N8N6D8Mp 1970 HG Holden Brougham 2
1970 HG Holden Brougham 2

Was the Holden Brougham really that bad?

Was Holden’s 1968-70 HK/HT/HG Brougham really that bad a car? 

According to some automotive writers it is.

Research Australia’s least admired cars and inevitability you’ll find the Brougham ranking near the top of the list.

And yet, there was nothing actually wrong with car per se.

What appears to have upset so many is that the Brougham is a visual reminder that Ford outsmarted Holden with the long wheelbase 1967 ZA Fairlane.

When the Fairlane was released in March, 1967 Holden had nothing in the pipeline to match it.

How embarrassing for the market leader.

Anyway, Holden realised it had to do something.

The first idea was for a long wheel base version of the soon to be released HK four-door Premier sedan.

After all, that’s what the Fairlane was to the Falcon.

But, after the finance folks had done their calculations and the engineering teams had figured out how to make it, the cost was high and the time to develop such a model put its release date up to two years into the future.

So, that idea was ditched.

No one is too sure who actually came up with the idea to extend the boot of a Premier, but that was what Holden’s senior decision makers agreed to do.

It was quick, cheap and they hoped nobody would notice.

As if?

The name chosen for this car was “Brougham”.

A Fairlane was quickly acquired, driven into the design studio and compared to the clay Brougham.

The products planners decided if the Brougham had to be based on the Premier it might as well be stuffed with almost every significant luxury option as standard.

On paper the packaging was attractive.

A Brougham owner would be pampered with the 5.0-litre Chevrolet V8, powerglide automatic, power disc brakes, power windows, power steering, brocade upholstery, thick carpet and extra sound deadening material — plus a heater/demister and vinyl roof as standard.

Only a radio and air conditioning were major options.

It was a significant value for money offering.

A similarly equipped Premier was almost the same price.

A comparable Fairlane was 10 per cent more.

But keen pricing was not enough to entice buyers.

Simply, the Fairlane looked and drove like a big American car.

The Brougham looked like a Premier with a long boot.

The Fairlane outsold the Brougham by something like 20:1.

The subsequent HT and HG model Broughams fared no better.

I have to confess; I’ve liked Broughams ever since our next-door neighbour bought one in late 1968. 

It was the quietest car I’d ever been in. 

The seats were so soft. 

I should have bought one (make that three or four) when they were almost being given away for free, back in the mid-80s.

Guess what they go for now? 

$50,000-$60,000 at least. 

Wrecks fetch around $10,000 from what I’ve seen. 

Time for a re-appraisal of the Brougham, I reckon. Though I suspect I’m in the minority.

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au


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