Bright future for past star
OLD HOLDEN’S TOP CONDITION CAPTIVATES ITS NEW OWNERS
Brent Hepple and his wife, Lisbeth, bought their 1964 New Zealand-assembled EH Holden Special sedan together 12 years ago.
Lisbeth says it was a joint idea to get a “nice old car,” and they liked the EH, as it was the car Brent owned when they met. He had planned to drop a V8 or supercharged V6 into the new purchase ... until they saw this one, in Matamata.
“It was sacrilege to change it, it’s clearly been garaged and pampered.”
So when they bought it, they decided it had to stay stock. It had done 56,000 miles (90,000km) and the body and cabin remained untouched, bar wax and polish, and new tyres.
A previous owner had repainted it in the original Gibson beige — as per the untouched dash. Everything else they’ve done is mechanical.
“After all it was 40, so all the gaskets were leaking,” said Brent.
A previous owner had put a diff manifold on “and butchered it” so Brent modified the linkage.
“I started at the back and worked forwards, replacing every rubber bush, pipe and gasket seal.”
Where possible he went for original parts, which was sometimes easier than expected.
“When I went to buy the rubber mount for the auto, I went in and saw Holden, and [the sales rep] said, ‘How many do you want?’It was the same as on the new Commodore!”
After all that he stripped the 3.0-litre engine (manuals were 2.5), got the original transfers, and repainted the motor so it looked new — but original.
“The engine wasn’t worn, it was original and standard, and I didn’t want to bore it out, so I had to find standard piston rings and bearings, which was hard as most engines have been reconditioned and bored.”
Rare Spares scoured Australia and found what it claimed was the last set of each, in faded packets. The Hepples also put on fatter wheels and tyres, and installed seat belts in the back for their kids.
The engine is mated to a three-speed Hydromatic auto, and the car is comfy, and also quite striking because of the Nasco-produced Holden optional extras on the car, including headlight protectors, bonnet trim and sun visor.
Brent says there aren’t many Specials in good nick. The Premier was the luxury model and the Special was the basic, so most of them have gone to the knacker’s yard.
It’ll cruise all day at 100km/h, so Lisbeth will take it to the Ruakaka bach, sometimes with a bunch of the girls, but generally it’s just used for Sunday jaunts, a couple of times a month, avoiding rain.