Holden HG Brougham
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
It could be argued that there were many things that the long-booted HG Brougham wasn't (such as a drivers car) - but there was no disputing that it was, in its day, a supremely comfortable passenger's car. Undeniably luxurious in equipment and finish, the Brougham was a big car that, in some respects, served to impress its passengers more than it made things easy on the driver.
The seats were high-backed and thickly padded, being of the genuine "sink into" variety and upholstery materials were carefully chosen to maintain an air of opulence throughout the interior. But despite the excellent comfort offered, when behind the wheel it was not all wine and roses for the driver. In deference to rear seat passengers, the rearward travel of the bench front seat was limited to allow adequate leg-room in the back, with the result that taller drivers tended to find themselves propped hard against the steering wheel, elbows bent almost at right angles and their spine rigidly vertical.
This was not the sort of driving position that was conducive to deft wheel-twirling. But it was all in keeping with the chauffer-driven image that the car seemed to exude. But this was nothing new for the HG series, and could be traced back to the fact that the Brougham was really nothing more than a very well finished and expensively furnished Holden with a longer boot-line, but retaining the same wheelbase.
A lack of generosity in interior stretching space could have been excusable in an every¬day family car, but it was not ideal given the external dimensions of the Brougham. This was magnified by the fact that the two cars the Brougham was designed to sell against - the Ford Fairlane and the Chrysler VIP - both offered more in this respect than the shorter-wheelbase cars they were based on.
The Brougham, with its 111 inch wheelbase, could never hope to match the ride stability and passenger space offered by its competitors. Aware of this, (although not prepared to openly admit it) GMH went to great pains to ensure that the Brougham at least came out ahead in the finish department. The brocade was sensational, in fact the quality of materials used throughout the interior was unquestioned. And they were put togther very well too, the best of any locally produced car at the time, the Brougham was a lesson to other manufacturers in just how well a mass-produced car could be finished.
That extra care was taken during assembly was evident everywhere - all panels, chrome strips, etc., fitted neatly and the deeply lustrous paintwork was free of "flat" patches or other faults. Classy cut-pile carpet covered both interior and boot floors and there were not too many square inches of exposed painted metal inside the car. Apart from the obviously better finish the Brougham further distinguished itself from the HG Premier by extra (simulated) woodgrain on instrument panel and door sills and on an insert around the rim of the steering wheel.
Unquestionably the best thing about the HT/HG Brougham range was the 308 cubic inch V8
- a development of the 253
engine announced with the HT series. Lighter by about 40 pounds than the imported 307 unit used in the HK version, and available on the more mundane Holden’s of the time, the 308
was manufactured in Australia at GMH's then new V8 plant and was, in 1969, only offered with the Brougham. It developed a healthy 240 bhp at 4800 rpm and belted out 315 ft./lb. of torque at 3000 rpm - well in front of the 307's 210 bhp at 4600 rpm and 300' ft./lb. at 2400 rpm. All HK Broughams were fitted with the 307, and the first 4 months production of the HT were also fitted with the 307 - which can be a bit confusing when it comes to ascertaining the originality of a car.
The quoted kerb weight of the HG Brougham was down slightly over the previous model so performance was also improved. Comparisons with acceleration figures achieved during a test of a 1968 model Brougham revealed that the HG was 3.7 seconds faster to 70 mph, covered the standing quarter mile in a very rapid 17.4 seconds, which was 1.2 seconds faster, and had a top speed of 110 mph, where the 307-engined car could only top 102 mph. All these gains were made without any great loss in fuel economy, most road testers reporting an average around the 17 mpg mark.
Indeed most road testers and motoring journalists felt the HG Brougham was a much quieter and smoother car, much of the credit going to the new engine mountings and rubber-bushed front suspension. Like the HT Holdens, the ride was much softer, at the expense of some lateral stability when cornered hard. Nevertheless, the wider track allowed corners to be taken slightly faster, the car clinging quite well despite large amounts of body roll. Fore/aft pitch, which was noticeable in the original Brougham, was still in evidence, partially due to the car's generous rear overhang of more than three and a half feet.
Rough roads, not exactly the forte of either Ford's or Chrysler's cars, had the HG Brougham unruffled. It would ride smoothly and serenely over the roughest patches and the tail rarely moved out of line. Brakes, except for some rearranging of pressure balance between front and rear, were virtually unchanged, with discs at front and drums at the rear. Power assisted, they stopped the car efficiently, fade setting in only after repeated violent usage. Also standard with the Brougham was power steering, although most thought it too light and a little vague. But the steering was still miles ahead of the over-light systems used by both Ford and Chrysler. was no questioning though that the overall "feel" of the HG Brougham was improved over the prior model, the lighter weight of the engine, the wider track and the more pliable suspension contributing to a certain feeling of balance not enjoyed to the same extent by the 307-engined car.
But despite how good it was, the Ford Fairlane outsold it by a large margin. The Brougham was replaced by the long-wheelbase Statesman models in 1971, on the redesigned HQ platform. More than ever a "passenger's" car, the HG Brougham had comfort and class and a build quality beyond what many felt possible on a locally produced car. Maybe that is why the Brougham is today (and has been for many years) a highly prized collectable. Much like Ford's Landau, too few were made, making those that survive today an astute investment for the classic car collector.
What The Brochure Said
Whatever your current benchmark for outstanding automotive design, new Brougham is likely to influence you to revise those standards. Superbly silent, unwanted sounds from every source have been tracked down and isolated. Sound and vibration damping materials have been lavishly applied. Rubber mountings separate the passenger compartment from the drive train. Deep pile carpets and thick underfelt insulate the interior. By every known measurement, no quieter car is built in Australia.
Brougham’s spacious, lavishly appointed interior affords you the choice of glove-soft vinyl or luxurious Bavere cloth, woven to “breathe” in a way that makes cool to the touch. Accented by rich, dark woodgrain, the tasteful blend of colour-keyed fabrics create a mood of incomparable elegance and restfulness. Designed for outstanding comfort, the deep foam-cushioned seats with fold down armrests offer club chair relaxation.
Reclining bucket seats and a floor console automatic gearshift can be ordered as an optional extra. Nothing has been overlooked for your comfort and driving pleasure. Fully upholstered doors, deep pile carpets throughout, even to the floor of Brougham’s huge 32 cubic foot luggage boot. Under the elegant hood, a big 240 hp V8
. And the Tri-matic automatic transmission
knows precisely the right time to change up or down. Acceleration is remarkably smooth and positive. In hesitating city traffic you just sit back and relax. Driving couldn’t be easier, and with power steering handling the manoeuvring are effortless. Power disc brakes are standard. Isn’t Brougham where you belong?