Holden Gemini TD
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
The Gemini was being upgraded and released as a new model in quick succession in the late 1970's. Just 3 years after its initial release the 3rd model was introduced as the TD. The most noticeable visual change was the introduction of more attractive and up-market looking square headlights.
The grille was, as always, changed again and now the little Gemini incorporated RTS (Radial Tuned Suspension
) which was much heralded in its big brother, the Holden HZ
. RTS was to take the Gemini's handling
to best in its class, as RTS offered such technology as anti dive geometry, stabilizer bars front and rear and a panhard rod rear end.
The Gemini SL/X
When it was released, many considered the Gemini SL/X as merely a new model level for the already vast Gemini range. A new model that fitted in between the SL and luxury SL/E in both equipment and price. But it was more than that. The SL/X was the forerunner of a similar model level that was introduced across the GMH range, including the Commodore
. Likewise, the Torana
/Sunbird replacement (actually the German Opel Rekord reworked ala Commodore but with the shorter nose) also was to come in an SL/X level.
GMH were clever in the creation of the SL/X model level. They took the basic SL sedan, then added the laminated/band tinted windscreen, sports exterior mirror and AM radio-/cassette player with rear speakers that were standard kit on the SL/E luxury model. Previously optional (on SL and SL/E) ribbed cord cloth seat inserts were also fitted whilst the General even managed to resurrect the mag-wheel look alike full wheel covers from the old TC Gemini. Add a blacked-out grille, and you had the Gemini SL/X.
It was good value too. The Gemini SL sedan was priced at A$5,121, while the upmarket SL/E came in at $5,930. Sitting nicely between these was the SL/X, at $5,437. It was obvious that the model was priced to fill a gap (albeit small) in the Gemini range. That it came in the four door version only seemed to confirm the fact. Not surprisingly the SL/X felt no different on the road to any other Gemini.
The familiar rack and pinion steering
, arguably the best in its class, pointed you in the right direction, and was complemented by equally capable handling
, What did come in for some criticism was the Gemini's ride, it being harsh under most conditions. The back end in particular transmitted a high degree of impact harshness through to the cabin. The ribbed cord seat trim did help to hold you in place, but if you were pushing the car's high cornering limits, the seats still didn’t hold you well enough. Most motoring journalists thought the front pews needed more shape, and therefore support.
The interior of the Gemini was always a standout, well organised, everything (except perhaps the light-switch which remained on the dash) was within easy reach, the instruments were clear, and the controls light. However, the interior, and to a lesser extent the exterior, was starting to look dated by 1979
. The Gemini was now fighting an opposition that was generally newer, with sharper lines, better space utilization, more comfortably equipped interiors, better economically designed controls, and so on. But, for our money, we would still have bought the Gemini.
Once you got behind the wheel you would find the Gemini to be a fun thing to wheel around. For a car that had been travelling Australia’s roads since early 1975
, it didn’t show its years as much as you would have expected. GMH's excellent RTS suspension and steering meant that the Gemini was still ahead of its opposition in those areas, although ride suffered accordingly. As for the SL/X itself, it offered a wider choice for the buyer; whether that was good or bad depended on them. The long-term significance of the SL/X was probably not all that important – but it did demonstrate GMH's much improved marketing philosophy of offering as much as possible for a reasonable price in what was, even way back then, a very competitive market.
In all there were seven versions of the TD that included the TD wagon, the panel van and a luxury SL/E model. Today they remain highly sought after.