Over the decades, a handful of Holden models have really captured the public's imagination. The very first Holden, the 48-215 was just such a novelty, so was the HQ of 1971 and the same goes for the first Commodore, in 1978. And between those landmark cars was the Holden EH of 1964. The EH's magic lay in the fact that it took Holden cars from fairly staid, conservative vehicles into the realm of more exciting transport. The sluggish old grey motor was replaced by the vastly more powerful red motor (named for the colour they were painted) and optional equipment like carpets, automatic transmissions and even heaters were becoming much more popular. Under the new skin, there was still a lot of traditional Holden in the engineering, but that didn't alter the fact that the EH car was the fastest selling Holden ever at that time, racking up 257,000 sales in the 18 months it filled showrooms.
Holden EH On The Road
Even a well-kept Holden EH in good nick will still feel pretty dated against even the most humble modern car. The gearbox with its column-shift is petty slow (and likely to feel sloppy by now) and the drum brakes are weedy and unassisted. The steering has no assistance, either, so it'll feel heavy at parking speeds and vague at highway velocities. The engine should do it for you, though. It might not be the smoothest motor ever made, but the six-cylinder red motor is torquey and flexible and propels the relatively lightweight EH quite well. The handling is a roly-poly experience but better modern shock absorbers can help in that department. The biggest problem is an EH that is half flogged to death. At that point, it'll be fairly horrible to drive, so finding a nice, tight one is well worth the time and effort.
Buying a Used Holden EH
Not too many Holden EHs are still around in their original form. Some modifications are fine, others less so. Better suspension, slightly wider wheels and modern tyres are okay, but huge power increases, radically lowered ride height and wild paint jobs do nothing for the collectibility of the car in question. They can also make it even clunkier to drive. Check for rot pretty much everywhere, starting at the leading edge of the bonnet and working along each sill, around the windows and inside the boot. The door skins can rust, too, but thanks to Australia's relatively mild climate and plenty of old-fashioned wrecking yards dotting the horizon, spares shouldn't be a problem. Keeping an EH running is pretty simple, provided the bodyshell is basically sound.
Holden EH - The Final Verdict
+ A classic if ever there was one
+ Red motor is simple, robust and does the job
+ Find a Premier with luxo trim and feel smug
- Modified cars can be true dogs
- So can worn out originals
Holden EH Standard Specifications
Engine Size: 2.6/2.9 litre
Fuel System: Carburettor
Standard Transmission: 3-speed manual