After being overshadowed by other models in the HQ range the Premier regained status to commemorate Holden's 25th birthday as the limited-production Silver Anniversary edition. The Silver Anniversary model was an ash-colored, automatically trans 202-engined Premier package. At the time of release most considered its price to be good, but not great value. As an Anniversary special, it was not a promotional package, but a commemorative one, and as such should be remembered that way. For the collector, it is important to note that only 1500 were produced during 1974
Aside from paint, trim and emblems the Anniversary model was essentially a Premier with selected options fitted as standard. Included were the Tri-matic transmission (with column shift), oil and temperature gauges, electric clock, push-button radio with rear speaker, reclining bucket seats, inertia reel front seat belts, vinyl roof and remote controlled exterior rear view mirror. Power assisted disc front brakes were also fitted, but don't really count since they were a mandatory inclusion for Premiers in any case.
The net result of the anniversary edition was a moderately distinctive, reasonably comfortable and mildly plush Holden carrying a $4205 tag. At the time it represented a saving of about $100 over that of a regular Premier optioned to the same level - and $100 back in 1974 was way more than it represents today. While the Premier had been a bit outside the mainstream of activity in the HQ range, it was the Statesman that grabbed the glamor as the top of the line "luxury" model (though officially it was never a Holden at all). The Monaros are the "performers" and the Kingswood was the bread and butter family car of the range.
The Premier filled the middle-class role successfully - as a car and in sales - but in its HQ form it never received the same publicity or attained the same image as the earlier editions enjoyed. The down-key approach was one of the reasons why we previously had not tested a HQ Premier. As for value, if you took a stock Premier and went to the options list to bring it up to Silver Anniversay specs, then you would start with a car featuring the standard bench front seat, conventional belts and stock instrumentation. You could then add wide (six inch) rims ($13), radials ($51), tinted laminated wind¬screen ($55), power steering ($137), vinyl roof ($64) radio ($120), rear speaker ($17), automatic transmission ($268) and air conditioning ($425). All of which together raised the ante from the base $3066 (with the mandatory discs) to $4647.
HQ Holden Premier 25th Anniversary Special - only 1500 were built.
The all-grey interior of the 25th Anniversary HQ Prem was officially called "Ash". The seats, trims, steering wheel and even the handbrake were colour-coded.
The Silver Anniversary HQ, in contrast, came with bucket seats and inertia-reel front belts, with all the additions already mentioned, along with an all-grey interior (officially "ash"). If you jump behind the wheel of a Holden fitted with a 202 these days you will no doubt realise the older Holdens were well down on power compared to what we drive today, but for 1974 the 202 engine performed well enough for everyday driving, even when saddled air-conditioning and power steering, but both of these options really took a toll on the HQ's fuel consumption.
The silver metallic paintwork was complemented by an exclusive 'ash-colored' vinyl roof. The interior, too, was finished throught in light grey tonings, including the dash, steering wheel, seats, carpets, even the handbrake lever. The bench seat in the regular Premier differed visibly from that of the Kingswood in having a pronounced roll at the front of the cushion and top of thebackrest (plus a centre arm rest). It was a better seat than the Kingswood's but it was not really comfortable on a long trips due to a lack of support for the small of your back, and the tendency for the side edge of the cushion to sink down.
The relationship between steering wheel and pedals was also widely criticised by road testers. The wheel was considered by most to be two or three inches too close to the seat (as it was on Falcon and Valiant) and prevented a comfortable driving position being obtained. Put the seat at proper legs' length from the pedals and you had two undesirable choices for your arms: you either gripped the rim correctly and bent your arms acutely to hunch over the wheel, or you stretched your arms and draped one or both hands beyond the wheel. Neither method was conducive to ready and full control of the helm.
The reclining bucket seats fitted to the anniversary model went some way to alleviating the problem by enabling the backrest to be raked enough to put the wheel at arms' length. The disadvantage of this was that it lowered your eye level and wasted some of the otherwise excellent forward and three-quarter visibility that was a feature of the HQ Holden. While its sides and front were deeply bolstered for comfort and support, the cushion could have been improved if its front edge was raised; it was always a bit flat and you tended to slide forward into a slouched stance.
Despite the ADR 27 emissions limits performance across the HQ range was about the same, however fuel consumption seemed to be slightly worse. Perhaps that was only our experience here at Unique Cars and Parts. With just over four turns lock to lock the unassisted steering on the Premier was reasonably direct for normal conditions and not too heavy for parking - on the standard cross ply tyres. But it would develop your forearm and shoulder muscles if fitted with the optional wide rims and radials. The cross ply boots provided good ride and were quiet on the straights regardless of road surface, but developed as much squeal as cornering power through the turns. Though the wide-rimmed radials on the regular Premier proved to harshen the ride slightly, this was far outweighed by their quieter, more sure-footed behavior with tangibly better road- holding.We wouldn't have anything but radials in conjunction with the power steering - even with them the steering's feel - was only marginal.
Power assisted steering was relatively new to Holden, and unlike the well sorted equipment fitted to current day cars these early versions required some familiarity for cornering and through-traffic manoeuvring, and especially for sharp changes of direction. It was easy to apply more lock than you intended, requiring correction to restore yourself to the driving line. The radial-shod car was degrees truer than the cross-ply model but both had understeer disproportionate with the turn in when cornering, because the radius was reduced. Throttle control was difficult and ultimately lead to end plough.
The marriage between the 202 and the Tri-matic transmission was a happy one. It was a nice and easy driving combination thanks to well chosen ratios and (ordinarily) almost imperceptible shifts up and down the range. Those with cross-plys were fitted with a standard 3.36:1 final drive ratio, which was quicker than radial fitted Premier's which were handicapped by a 3.55:1 final drive ratio. But there was little effective difference in the gearing overall because its radial tyres turned fewer times per mile (larger rolling radius) than those fitted with cross ply tyres. Solex with only a nominal 0.4 mph per 1000 rpm between them in top, the gearing was near enough to identical.
One criticism from owners we have spoken to is concerning the windscreen washers, the original fitments being a little too weak and were only able to squirt cleaning water halfway up the glass. We assume any HQ's around today would have replacement washer systems so this would not be a problem. But that was a very minor criticism of a car that, in its prime, was both robust and well put togther. A 202 Prem may never have set your heart on fire, nor was it a car for those who enjoyed spirited driving, but they were dependable (almost bulletproof), and had a design that, to our eyes, still looks great to this day.
Also see: HQ Holden Review
| HQ Holden Specifications
| HQ - HZ Holden Production