Statesman WB Caprice
|Manufacturer||General Motors Holden|
|Also called||Chevrolet Constantia
Chevrolet de Ville
Chevrolet Caprice Classic
Isuzu Statesman de Ville
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Engine||202 cu in (3.3 L) I6
253 cu in (4.1 L) V8
308 cu in (5.0 L) V8
350 cu in (5.7 L) V8
|Successor||Holden Statesman / Caprice|
Statesman was an automotive marque created in 1971 by General Motors Holden (GM-H), the Australian subsidiary of General Motors. Statesman vehicles were sold through Holden dealerships, and were initially based on the mainstream Holden HQ station wagon platform, thereby providing more interior room and generally more luxurious features than their Holden sedan siblings. Production ceased with the last of the WB series cars in 1984.
GM Holden re-introduced the range in 1990 with two long-wheelbase sedans; however, the cars were no longer marketed as Statesman by brand name, but instead as the Holden Statesman and the Holden Caprice. In September 2010 with the "Series II" updating of the WM series, use of the long-serving Statesman name was discontinued. Holden's long wheelbase contenders are now branded as Holden Caprice and Holden Caprice-V.
The original Statesman HQ long-wheelbase sedans were released on July 22, 1971 as a replacement for the HG series Holden Brougham, although drawings exist of an HQ Brougham, albeit in short-wheelbase guise. The first Statesmans were based on these short-wheelbase Holden HQ variants. Statesman was initially offered in two specifications, an upmarket Statesman de Ville and a basic Statesman Custom. Engines ranged from a 202 cubic inches (3.3 L) Red six-cylinder, a 253 cubic inches (4.1 L) V8, a 308 cubic inches (5.0 L) V8 and a 350 cubic inches (5.7 L) Chevrolet Small-Block V8, however the de Ville featured the 308 engine as standard equipment. Compared to the short-wheelbase Holden HQ models, the Statesman featured a wheelbase extended by 3 inches (76 mm), totalling 114 inches (2,900 mm), in common with the HQ range of Holden station wagons. The extra length was incorporated behind the rear doors to allow for additional rear seat legroom.
The Statesman was intended as a rival for Ford Australia’s successful Fairlane  which had debuted in Australian-designed form as the ZA series in March 1967. The Fairlane had created a new and exclusive category of Australian-made prestige cars. It was derived from the Falcon, with an extended wheelbase and unique front-end and rear-end styling to differentiate the car's appearance. At the time, this category of vehicle proved to be very profitable, in that the sale price was significantly higher than the base car from which the prestige model was derived, and the additional costs of production were only moderate. GM-H went to some length to set the new luxury Statesman marque apart from the Holden equivalent in their sales literature. for the new models, totally avoiding the presence of the name "Holden", even to the extent of using the term "General Motors" in lieu of "General Motors-Holden's". Advertisements in newspapers among other media followed the same format.
Statesman HQ models were marketed in South Africa as the Chevrolet Constantia and the Chevrolet de Ville and were exported to many other countries as the Chevrolet 350. From 1973 to 1976 HQ and HJ models were exported to Japan as the Isuzu Statesman De Ville. Isuzu sold 246 De Villes between late 1973 and 1976.
General Motors–Holden’s updated the range in 1974 to create the Statesman HJ, retaining the Statesman de Ville whilst creating a new flagship in the Statesman Caprice, replete with standard luxury features such as air-conditioning and leather seating. Statesman Custom was discontinued with the HJ series and engine availability was restricted to the 308ci (5.0 L) V8 engine. Statesman Caprice was the most luxurious car offered by General Motors in Australia at that point, with air-conditioning, leather seats, electric locking, power windows and no fewer than 13 interior lamps all featuring on the standard equipment list.
The Caprice was visually distinctive with a specific radiator grille, Cadillac style front bumper overriders and lavish fluted hubcaps, whitewall tyres, and a bonnet ornament borrowed from the Chevrolet Caprice.
Once again, the Caprice was General Motors − Holden’s response to a new Ford car. In 1973, Ford had upped the ante in the Australian prestige car stakes when they unveiled the LTD. This was a Fairlane which had the wheelbase extended again – to 121 inches (3,100 mm) – making it the only Australian car which fitted into the US full size category. The LTD was a significant success for Ford, both in terms of sales and profits, as well as making a statement regarding their prowess as a manufacturer.
From March 1976, late in the HJ series, an electro-mechanical rear drum anti-lock braking system (ABS) was made available on the Caprice. This system, a Delco-Moraine unit, carried over to the subsequent Statesman HX models, but after the introduction of rear disc brakes on the Statesman HZ series, ABS was not seen on another Statesman or Holden model until the Holden Calibra coupe and Holden VQ Caprice in 1991. This new ABS system was the electronic Bosch patent system operating on all four-wheel discs.
The Statesman HX de Ville and Caprice models were released in July 1976. A more formal grille was adopted and emissions' regulations saw a re-tuned 5.0-litre V8.
In 1977, General Motors-Holden's introduced the Statesman HZ, which involved a minor cosmetic facelift. However, it had a significant engineering upgrade, along with the rest of the GMH range, involving the adoption of Radial Tuned Suspension, giving the Statesman better handling. 4-wheel disc brakes were now fitted to all Statesman models.
The previous Director of GMH Engineering, George Roberts [disambiguation needed] had insisted that the Statesman have a high standard of ride comfort (at the expense of ultimate roadholding). (Roberts previously had been the Chief Engineer of the GM Cadillac Division). Prior to HZ, the Statesman's Cadillac style of ride was not to everyone's taste.
The Statesman de Ville and Caprice were supplemented in 1979 by an intermediate model – the SL/E, which was launched with a different "egg-crate" grille.
The final series to be marketed under the Statesman marque was the Statesman WB. Released in May 1980, the WB series was offered in Statesman de Ville and Statesman Caprice models. As with previous Statesmans, GMH did not use the Holden name in the badging or the official sales literature. The WB had a six-light body, with a longer, squared-off roofline. The design was by GMH's Chief Stylist, Leo Pruneau. The styling of the WB Statesman was a compromise between achieving a fresh appearance and minimising the cost of redesign, by using panels from the antecedent HZ model. Production comprised 5,450 de Villes and 3,055 Caprices.
WB Series II models were released in September 1983 with only cosmetic changes. In late 1984 General Motors-Holden's announced that it intended to vacate the big-car market to concentrate on production of luxury versions of the Holden Commodore. Series II production comprised 4,269 de Villes and 1,153 Caprices.
In addition to the Statesman WB, a range of Holden WB commercial and passenger vehicles including long-wheelbase sedans and station wagons bearing the Kingswood and Premier names was planned, but only the commercial models (ute, panel van and cab-chassis "One Tonner") went into production.
- Luck, Rob (September 1971). "Bold New Breed". Modern Motor (Modern Magazines (Holdings)): 62.
- Wright (1998), p. 209
- Tony Davis, 1971 GM-H Statesman, Aussie Cars, 1987, page 121
- Ewan Kennedy, Ford Falcon, 2nd Edition, April 2004, pages 29 & 30
- "Statesman HQ brochure" (jpg) (BD102 ed.). Port Melbourne, Victoria: General Motors–Holden's. July 1971. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
- The Advertiser. 1971-07-27. Missing or empty
- Australian Muscle Car, Issue 33, pages 84–86
- 1972 De Ville and Kommando Article Retrieved from www.moby302.co.za on 25 August 2009
- Bedwell (2009), p. 199.
- 1976 Chevrolet Constantia brochure
- South African 1976 General Motors Chevrolet Caprice Classic Brochure
- Norm Darwin, 100 years of GM in Australia, 2002, page 265
- Green Book Price & Model Guide, March - April 1984, pages 79 & 80
- Davis, Tony; Wright, John (1994). Spotlight on Holden Commodore 1978–1988 (including HSV & Statesman WB). Marque Publishing. ISBN 0-947079-44-0.
- Norm Darwin, 100 Years of GM in Australia, 2002, page 271
- Tony Davis, 1980 GM-H Statesman WB, Aussie Cars, 1987, page 162
- Bedwell, Steve (2009). Holden vs Ford: the cars, the culture, the competition. Dulwich Hill, New South Wales: Rockpool. ISBN 978-1-921295-17-1.
- Easdown, Geoff (1987). A History of the Ford Motor Company in Australia. Drummoyne, New South Wales: Golden Press. ISBN 0-7302-0112-0.
- Wright, John (1998). Heart of the Lion: The 50 Year History of Australia's Holden. Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-744-5.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Statesman (automobile).|
- Statesman HQ television advertisement
- Statesman HX television advertisement
- Statesman HZ brochure
- Statesman WB brochure at "The Old Car Manual Project"
|Isuzu international road car timeline, 1950s–1970s — next »|
|Minx||Minx||117 Coupé||117 Coupé||117 Coupé|
|Full-size||Statesman de Ville|
|Compact pickup||Wasp||Faster / TF|