Holden Caprice

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For automobiles built by General Motors–Holden's Ltd from 1971 to 1984 under the Statesman marque, see Statesman (automobile).
Holden Caprice
2006-2009 Holden WM Statesman sedan 01.jpg
Manufacturer Holden (General Motors)
Also called Holden Statesman
Buick Park Avenue
Buick Royaum
Chevrolet Caprice
Daewoo Veritas
Daewoo Statesman
Production 1990–present
Assembly Elizabeth, South Australia
Body and chassis
Class Full-size
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout Front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Platform GM V (1990–2006)
GM Zeta (2006–present)
Related Holden Kingswood
Holden Commodore
Bitter Vero
Buick Park Avenue (China)
Predecessor Statesman

The Holden Caprice is a full-size car which has been produced by Holden in Australia since 1990. The similar Holden Statesman, which was also introduced in 1990, was discontinued in September 2010.

Between 1971 and 1984, Holden marketed their long-wheelbase sedans under the Statesman marque. The Statesman and Caprice are essentially long-wheelbase variants of the Commodore range and, as of 2006, were the largest rear-wheel drive sedans offered by GM. Internationally, Statesmans and Caprices have been sold as the rebadged Buick Royaum, Daewoo Statesman and Chevrolet Caprice. In addition, there have been the rebadged and subsequently Chinese-built Buick Park Avenue and the Bitter Vero, a rebodied version from Germany.

The main difference between the Statesman and the Caprice lies within their equipment packages. Moreover, Caprices are commonly powered by V8 engines rather than V6s and, whilst modern Caprices may be mistaken as fully specified versions of the cheaper Statesman, the two were separate Holden models in the past. Appearance wise, Caprices can be distinguished by their unique interior and exterior trim such as the grille insert. In addition to the large V8 engine, in latter years the Caprice suspension was often more sport-orientated as from the WH series.

Traditionally in Australia, the Statesman and Caprice have been direct rivals to the Ford Fairlane and LTD, respectively. However, Ford's decision to discontinue these models in 2008 left Holden without direct competition at pricing point occupied, at least until the launch of the Hyundai Genesis in 2015. As announced by Holden in 2014, its entire Australian production comprising the Caprice will cease in 2017.[1]

Statesman (HQ–WB; 1971–1984)[edit]

1980–1983 Statesman WB Caprice

It was the right car at the wrong time. A few years later people woke up to the fact that the WB was one of the best big Holdens of all time, and the values of used examples took off with a lion's roar.

Tony Davis and John Wright, 1994.[2]

Prior to the introduction of the Holden Statesman and Caprice models in 1990, Holden marketed its long-wheelbase range through a separate Statesman marque, absent of all "Holden" branding.[3][4] These original vehicles, were sold through the General Motors-Holden's dealership channel, and were based on the mainstream Kingswood/Premier range, offering more luxury, additional length, and styling to differentiate it from the smaller donor cars.[5] The first of such cars were introduced in 1971 as the HQ series Statesman, replacing the short-lived Holden Brougham.[6] Subsequent HJ, HX and HZ models were updates to the original HQ bodywork,[7] as was the final WB series which introduced a new six-window glasshouse.[8] WB represented the most significant update yet, with only the front doors and bonnet common with the HZ sheetmetal.[9] Notwithstanding these alterations, the WB fell short of great market success, that is, until 1984 when production cessation was announced, generating a rapid sales ascent. For Holden, the decision had been made—the line's discontinuance was irreversible.[10]

First generation (1990–1999)[edit]


Main article: Holden Caprice (VQ)
1990–1991 Holden Statesman (VQ)

In 1990, after a six-year hiatus since the WB Statesman's dismissal, demand for a long-wheelbase luxury sedan in Australia saw Holden resurrect the Statesman and Caprice names. Given the model designation VQ, these new luxury models utilised the long-wheelbase chassis taken from the VN Commodore station wagon, as opposed to the VN sedan's short-wheelbase. These VN models were in turn heavily revised and enlarged versions of the Opel Omega A.[11] In comparison to the regular Commodore sedan, VQs added an additional 110 millimetres (4.3 in) of length, and were still 64 millimetres (2.5 in) longer than the VN wagon.

Holden made many efforts to distinguish the Statesman from the Commodore, on which it is based. These features include a formal grille and a very different glasshouse reminiscent of contemporary GM products such as the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (see image), and the rear license plate repositioned to the bumper, while incorporating the doors and lights from the Commodore station wagon. Both Statesman and Caprice models were offered and equipped with independent rear suspension—a feature introduced one year later on high-end VP Commodores.[12] Also in 1991, Holden introduced the VQ Series II models. The Series II Caprice ushered anti-lock brakes as standard, however it was optional on the Statesman. The Commodore's 127-kilowatt (170 hp) 3.8 litre 3800 V6 engine was now standard on the Statesman, with the old 5.0 litre V8 reserved for the Caprice, becoming an option on the Statesman.[13] Both powerplants were mated with a four-speed THM700R4 automatic transmission.[14]


1994–1995 Holden Statesman (VR)

The VR followed in 1994, mirroring the model change of the standard VR Commodore, incorporating engineering improvements as well as sheet metal changes. The updated running gear included a new electronically controlled version of the GM 4L60-E automatic transmission, and the latest revision of the Buick 3.8 litre V6 engine.[15] The engine now featured rolling-element bearings in the valve rocker arms, increasing compression ratios from the VQ II series engine.[16] These changes combined to deliver an increase in power to 130 kilowatts (170 hp) and further improvement in noise, vibration, and harshness levels.[17] In terms of equipment, a driver's airbag became standard on both the Statesman and Caprice.[14]

For the VR series, Holden no longer used separate model designations for its Statesman and Caprice. Instead, they adopted the same two-letter title as the Commodore. This same principle applied for the VS models, but not for those succeeding it.


1998–1999 Holden Caprice (VS III)

The 1995 VS saw the introduction of the updated Ecotec (Emissions and Consumption Optimisation through TEChnology) version of the Buick V6 engine which coincided with the changes to the engine in the United States.[18] The Ecotec engine packed 13 percent more power, an increase of 17 kilowatts (23 hp) over the VR. Holden mated the new engine with a modified version of the GM 4L60-E automatic transmission, bringing improved throttle response and smoother changes between gears.[19] Series II and III revisions came in September 1996 and June 1998, mainly consisting of a more rounded rear treatment and new alloy wheel designs. The Series II also heralded the introduction of the L67 Supercharged V6. This engine slotted in between the existing V6 and V8 engines and was officially rated at 165 kilowatts (221 hp), just 3 kilowatts (4.0 hp) below the V8,[20] though a 185-kilowatt (248 hp) HSV option for the 5.0 litre V8 was available.[citation needed] A special edition Statesman International was briefly offered in 1995.[21]

For the Statesman, Holden included the ten-stack Compact Disc player from the VR Caprice as standard. A new two-stage door remote was also made standard across the range. The remote, located on the key fob allows for just the driver's door to be unlocked. Safety-wise, a passenger airbag was introduced as standard in the VS range, following the introduction of a driver's airbag on the VR series.[18] The Used Car Safety Ratings, undertaken by the Monash University Accident Research Centre, found that first generation Statesmans (VQ–VS) provide an "average level" of occupant safety protection in the event of an accident.[22]

Second generation (1999–2006)[edit]


1999–2001 Holden Statesman (WH)

The next model came in 1999, two years after the launch of the all-new VT Commodore from which the new WH was initially based.[23] The WH series saw Holden return to a standalone model designation, rather than adopting the same used by the short-wheelbase Commodore. Models followed much the same pattern as the previous car: a standard Statesman, a special edition Statesman International, and the Caprice as flagship.[24] The doors and front windscreen were again shared with the mainstream Commodore while wheelbase was increased to 2,939 mm (116 in). It should be noted that WH Series I cars built between 1999 and 2000 had more in common with VT II Commodore, while 2000 onwards bore more resemblance to the updated VX Commodore in parts and finish.

Engines were as per the Commodore, so a 3.8-litre V6 Ecotec unit, a supercharged version of the same, and a new 5.7-litre Generation III V8, rated at 220 kilowatts (300 hp).[23] A Series II revision in 2001 brought a 5-kilowatt (6.7 hp) power increase for the Ecotec V6 bringing it up to 152 kilowatts (204 hp).[25] Since the WH, which was engineered for both right- and left-hand drive, the Statesman has been exported to the Middle East as the Chevrolet Caprice, following the same model changes as the Holden.[26]

Compared to the previous model, stability improved through the use of wider tracks a longer wheelbase and four-channel ABS disc brakes with traction control. Usable boot space increased to 541 litres. Cornering lights were provided integrated into the front fog light assembly- these cornering lights were illuminated whenever the indicator was operating on that side of the car, illuminating a turning path for the driver. Electrochromatic rear view mirror sensed headlight glare from vehicles travelling behind, and automatically adjusts mirror glass tint level to reduce driver glare.

Dual zone climate control was a standard feature across the WH range, as was 12-mode trip computer integrated into the instrument cluster. Caprice including rear roof mounted climate control and stereo controls for rear passengers- rear passengers were also provided with two headphone jacks in the rear parcel shelf and could listen to a different audio source to the front occupants. A rear flip down table was incorporated into the rear armrest, complete with storage pocket and cup holders. The exclusive-to-Caprice options included standard Howe leather seats, 260-watt 12-speaker DSP audio system, individual ignition key memory (not available in Statesman- stereo settings, seating position) for three drivers, upright Holden crest logo on the bonnet, chrome exterior door handles, as well as heated side view mirrors and auto dipping passenger side view mirror to avoid alloy wheel damage when reversing. Headlights could be set to automatically sense low light levels and turn on without driver input. Caprice featured a fine chrome vertical bar grille, while Statesman used a chrome matrix style front grille design, and lacked chrome exterior door handles.

HSV branded special order options included electric tilt & slide glass sunroof, VDO MS5000 satellite navigation system in place of front console ashtray, HSV alloy pedals, rear deck spoiler and choice of two 17-inch alloy wheel styles. Vehicles specially ordered with any HSV optional extras received a Holden-by-Design individually numbered build plate in the engine bay.

The use of self-levelling rear air suspension available in Caprice brought advantages when hauling heavy loads and improved vehicle dynamics when towing.[27] Safety in the WH model was also enhanced, with the addition of side impact head & torso airbags and pyrotechnic seat belt pretensioners along with drivers steering wheel and passenger dashboard airbags all as standard. If the seat belt pretensioners trigger, the doors automatically unlock, both engine and fuel pump shut down and all interior lights will switch on.[28] Also new to the WH are the electric wing mirrors, which when reversing, the passenger mirror faces downwards to assist the driver when parking, thus preventing kerbside wheel damage.


2003–2004 Holden Statesman (WK)

A revised WK series was launched in 2003, with a facelift. The curvaceous front and rear end styling of the WH was abandoned in favour of angular lines, starting with the headlights borrowed from the VY Calais. From the rear, the redesigned taillights were now separated by sheet metal, rather than being joined with a horizontal strip of plastic.[29] The redesign had the after effect of lowering the WK's drag coefficient to 0.30.[30] Other changes came in the form of revised bumpers, wheel trims, with the interior dashboard and centre console receiving a major overhaul. Powertrains carried over from the previous model, but the Generation III V8 engine was now rated at 235 kilowatts (315 hp) for the Statesman and 245 kilowatts (329 hp) for the Caprice.[29] Other engineering changes were made to the structural integrity of the car. The reinforced front flooring and sills gives the upshot of a 70 percent reduction in lower limb injuries in offset frontal crash tests at 60 km/h (30 mph).[30]

Feature wise, the Statesman now offered standard rear parking sensors and optional satellite navigation, with the Caprice receiving the latter as standard along with a dual screen DVD entertainment system for the rear passengers.[31] The Used Car Safety Ratings found that WH/WK Statesmans provide a "significantly better than average" level of occupant protection in the event of an accident.[22]


2004–2006 Holden Caprice (WL)
2005–2006 Buick Royaum (China)

Released in 2004, the WL brought with it an all-new 3.6 litre Alloytec V6 engine, succeeding the WK's Ecotec unit. Power and torque figures were rated at 190 kilowatts (250 hp) and 340 newton metres (250 lb·ft), respectively. The Statesman's optional V8 was the 245 kilowatts (329 hp) version from the WK Caprice, with the WL Caprice's engine obtaining a further 5 kilowatts (6.7 hp). The V8s retained the four-speed GM 4L60-E automatic transmission, while the Alloytec V6 versions received a new five-speed GM 5L40-E automatic. Several new safety features were added to the WL line-up. Such include brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, Electronic Stability Program and LED tail lamps. The new LED lamps give an additional 5 metres (16 ft) of warning to trailing motorists travelling at 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph) because they illuminate in 60 nanoseconds, compared to 1,000 for conventional incandescent light bulbs.[32]

In 2005, General Motors began exporting the Statesman to China, where it was badged as the Buick Royaum. The Royaum was initially equipped with the 3.6 litre Alloytec engine fitted to the Statesman, however a 155-kilowatt (208 hp) 2.8 litre version of the same followed later in the year.[33] During 2005, Holden exported almost 2,000 units to South Korea.[34] With an identical powertrain to the Buick, the South Korean export model was sold through the GM Daewoo network and marketed as the Daewoo Statesman.[35]

Third generation (2006–present)[edit]

2006 Holden Caprice (WM)


Main article: Holden Caprice (WM)

The third generation WM was launched alongside the VE Commodore on 16 July 2006 at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre. With the Statesman's export plans, it was decided that its launch should be simultaneous with that of the Commodore, rather than months later, as had been the convention.[36] The WM development programme reportedly cost General Motors A$190 million with another $1.04 billion devoted to the VE Commodore model which the Statesman is based upon.[37] The WM series utilises the GM Zeta platform developed by Holden. Unlike previous models, the WM no longer shares its architecture with an Opel sedan,[38] and has rear doors different from those found on the Commodore.[39] Previously, it had to share the doors, or at least the lower parts, with the lesser Commodore. This is just one of the ways Holden has tried to create greater differentiation between the Statesman and the Commodore on which it is based.[40]

Like the second generation model, the WM is exported to the Middle East as the Chevrolet Caprice. In China since 2007, the sister model had been produced as the Buick Park Avenue, mainly using locally sourced parts and sharing some globally sourced parts.[41]

In 2008, Holden recommenced Caprice exports to South Korea as the Daewoo Veritas after showcasing a pre-production Daewoo L4X in 2007.[34] Compared to the Australian-specification model, the Veritas is V6-powered only and has a modified rear floorpan to accommodate the electrically adjustable rear seats incorporating a massage function. The head restraints are also electrically adjustable, with the Caprice's dual headrest-mounted LCD screens orphaned in favour of a single, ceiling-mounted unit.[42] GM Daewoo announced an updated Veritas on 31 March 2009 to take effect from 1 April. The update, which was yet to be seen in other markets, comprised a revised powertrain combination, featuring a new direct injection version of the 3.6 litre Alloytec engine. This new engine results in a power increase from 185 kilowatts (248 hp) to 204 kilowatts (274 hp) together with more torque and a reduced fuel consumption figure. These efficiency improvements have been enough to satisfy the government of South Korea's "Korea Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle" (KULEV) requirements. In place of the five-speed automatic transmission previously, these revised models ship with a six-speed GM 6L50[43] unit, featuring Active Select.[44]

The update to the Veritas in South Korea was adopted in the Holden versions for the 2010 model year (MY10). This update was announced on 4 August 2009, and released in September.[45] The now direct-injected 3.6 litre V6, labelled Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) by Holden, is rated at 210 kilowatts (280 hp) for power and 350 newton metres (260 lbf·ft) for torque.[46] Gains in efficiency have been achieved via the implementation of direct fuel injection, improvements to the fuel cutout during coasting, the addition of a more efficient alternator and voltage regulator, a 50 rpm lower idle speed (to 550 rpm), and a new "turbine damper" for the automatic transmission that works to suppress vibrations at low rpm, thus enabling earlier upshifts.[47] In 2010 the Veritas was discontinued after GM phased out the Daewoo brand in South Korea in favor of Chevrolet.

In 2010, Holden made the decision to discontinue the Statesman nameplate, instead reducing the price of the upmarket V6 Caprice and filling the gap once occupied by the Statesman.[48] This coincided with the release of the "Series II" versions of the WM Caprice (replacing Statesman), and the introduction of the Caprice V (replacing Caprice).

Since 2011, a version of the Holden Caprice has been sold in US as a police cruiser, called the Chevrolet Caprice PPV (Police Patrol Vehicle). It uses the interior and dashboard of the lower-end Commodore Omega, and is marketed as an alternative to the Chevrolet Impala (produced in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada) for heavy-duty fleet use.


In 2013 Holden updated the Caprice as the WN series. The WN is an updated WM Series II model with the interior and alloy wheels from the VF Commodore Calais V.


Sales in Australia
Variant 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Statesman 1,836 2,125 1,350 3,991 4,461 4,409 3,857 3,806 4,222
Caprice 309 367 193 879 740 607 530 534 687
Variant 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Statesman 5,566 4,971 4,347 4,363 3,640 2,832 1,986 2,143 1,804 584
Caprice 804 547 611 1,061 1,011 741 1,090 2,611 1,641 1,455
Variant 2010 2011 2012 2013
Statesman 284 2
Caprice 1,715 1,892 1,460 1,113[49]


  1. ^ "Bad News From Oz: No More Holden Caprice After 2017". gmauthority.com. 
  2. ^ Davis, Wright (1994), p. 9.
  3. ^ Luck (1971), p. 62.
  4. ^ Wright (1998), p. 336. "Back in 1971 when the HQ Statesman was launched, the name Holden was not even applied. Ridiculously, GM-H's marketing people wanted to convince the public that somehow 'Statesman' was a marque rather than a model."
  5. ^ Wright (1998), p. 209. "...although the ineffective Brougham luxury model was replaced by the Statesman, which used a longer wheelbase and featured styling that set it more clearly apart from the smaller models."
  6. ^ Bebbington (1998), p. 40. "The all-new HQ series Holden was GM-H's most important new model range to date. [...] The Brougham was replaced by the all-new Statesman...".
  7. ^ Bebbington (1998), p. 52. "GM-H [...] released the HZ series in October 1977, this being the fourth version of the HQ/HJ/HX body style."
  8. ^ Robinson (1980), p. 25. "...the WB has gained an extra windows in the C-pillar...".
  9. ^ Bebbington (1998), p. 56. "[WB] Statesmans were more than minor facelift of the HZ. They had virtually all-new exterior sheetmetal, with only the front doors and bonnet carrying over from their predecessors."
  10. ^ Davis, Wright (1994), p. 10–11. "...the days of the big Holden were short numbered. Late in 1984 GM-H announced it was vacating the big car field... Incredibly, sales of Statesman were on the rapid ascendent when production was stopped in 1984. However, GM-H was already irreversibly locked into the decision to discontinue the model line."
  11. ^ Robinson (2006), p. 26
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  39. ^ McCarthy, McKay, Newton, Robinson (2006), p. 118
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  • McCarthy, Mike; McKay, Peter; Newton, Bruce; Robinson, Peter (October 2006). "2006 Collector's Edition VE Commodore: The Full Story". Wheels magazine (ACP Magazines). 

External links[edit]

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