Guess who designed the Holden Camira that Leo drives?

Leo Pruneau’s 1988 JE Holden Camira station wagon is a rare classic for three reasons.

First, the 35-year-old car is a one owner.

Second, it is in as-new condition, despite being a work vehicle on Leo’s rural property.

And third — and this is what gives this Camira extraordinary classic car provenance — Leo was one of the key people who styled the Camira for Holden back in the early 1980s.

Quite simply, the guy who styled the car owns the car.

You can’t beat that!

“I bought it from Holden when I retired and I’ve had it ever since. It’s a great mid-sized car and I’ve not found anything I want to replace it with,” Leo told me.

The Camira is driven almost every day and yet the interior and exterior are unmarked.

”The reason the car is in such great condition is that I have kept it under cover and out of the weather when not being used ” he said.

Leo Prunneau has a long history with General Motors.


Leo had a long and influential career with General Motors in the United States, Vauxhall and Holden before he retired to rural Victoria.

He was on the team that shaped the first Chevrolet Camaro.

He styled the HD Holden and the 1964 Opel Kapitan.

Leo was then asked to develop the styling themes for what would become the 1968 HK Holden range.

After that he penned the HB Vauxhall Viva, which became Holden’s Torana and moved to Vauxhall as its assistant design director.

After six years at Vauxhall, General Motors sent him to Australia in 1969 and he was appointed Holden’s design boss in 1974.

He did the facelifts of the HQ Holden and Monaro, shaped the LH Torana sedan and hatchback, recast the Opel Rekord into the first Commodore and took GM’s global J Car design and turned it into the award-winning Camira.

“The basics of the J Car were done at Opel and Chevrolet,” he said.

“GM then gave the package to Pontiac, Cadillac, Holden, Vauxhall and Isuzu in Japan to implement”.

First released in 1982, the Camira replaced the Torana which Leo had designed.

Leo’s team also developed a station wagon version which incorporated the rear bumper bar in the tail gate.

It allowed for a very low load height.

This innovative design was then exported to other GM operations.

“GM did not believe it could be done, but we showed them,” Leo said proudly.

The name “Camira” comes from an Aboriginal word meaning “wind.”

Camira was produced from 1982 until 1989. After production wound up in August, 1989, Holden replaced the Camira with the Apollo, a rebadged Toyota Camry.

More than 3 million variants were produced, in 1.6-, 1.8- and 2.0-litre configuration. 1.8- and 2.0-litre versions were fuel injected.

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos


CHECKOUT: Why is the Holden Camira shunned by collectors?

CHECKOUT: Designers share secrets about Aussie cars

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *