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In the summertime: Ian Ginns’ Holden HK Premier Wagon

31 July, 2015


When it came to packing up the kids for the big Kiwi summer holiday in the ’60s, the best way of getting to the beach was in a classic Holden station wagon

Peering out the window at the current cold damp misery outside, New Zealand Classic Car magazine decided to feature the perfect vehicle to help you reminisce about those wonderful trips away in search of new and exciting Kiwi holiday destinations, or the favourite spot you and your family have enjoyed for years. We reckon we came up with the goods when we discovered this truly amazing, and very rare, HK Holden Premier Station Wagon. I imagine most of you will agree that the Holden has been very much a part of the great Kiwi summertime holiday season for decades.

Holden through and through

The HK’s owner, Ian Ginns, is indeed a Holden fan through and through — especially when it comes to examples from the late ’60s and early ’70s, the HK, HT and HG models. However, his own preference is for the HK above all others.

Ian’s first experience of riding in a Holden dates right back to 1967, when he accompanied his mate — Barry Melville, who at the time worked for Reo Motors in Takapuna — to the Barry Point Road rubbish dump in a light-green HR ute.

Not long after that, Ian’s father bought a new, green HK Kingswood sedan — the car in which Ian later learned to drive. As you can imagine, Ian’s interest in Holdens was beginning to grow. A year or so later, his father traded in the Kingswood for a new HT Kingswood and, at the same time, Ian purchased his first car — a 1962 PAX Vauxhall.

After leaving school in 1969 he followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a painting contractor. The PAX proved to be a fairly reliable workhorse, though he yearned for a white Holden HK or HG ute, but was unable to scrape together the deposit at the time. However, a few years down the track Ian was in a better financial position and, finally, he was able to acquire his first Holden — a green 1966 HR Premier with a white roof. This was later pressed into service as his wedding car — with his father’s HT playing the role of the bridesmaid’s car.
A couple of years later Ian traded in the Premier for a blue 1972 HQ V8 Premier and, in turn, this was followed by a gold-coloured 1972 HQ GTS Monaro.

For some time Ian had been keeping an eye on a 1970 HT Brougham that he’d spotted in Taupo Bay and, after reaching the conclusion that he favoured the HK, HT, and HG models, he managed to acquire the HT in 1978.

Ian and his wife, Jenny, hold one very special memory of that Brougham, as it was the car in which they brought their son, Rob, home from the hospital after he was born. As well, that’s probably why Rob shares his father’s interest in anything relating to Holdens — indeed, he’s since owned six Holdens, and has currently settled into a silver 2008 VE SSV, which he has owned since new. Ian and Rob are also working on another project — restoring a 1969 HK GTS Monaro, a car they discovered in Wanganui.

After selling the Brougham, Ian’s next car was a 1975 HJ Kingswood. He kept this car for several years, during which time he also purchased a 1972 Torana GT-R. The Torana was sold, unfortunately, due to its lack of practicality — a two-door proving too difficult with a young child. A rather nice HJ Statesman Chevrolet Caprice was the next car parked in the Ginns’ family garage, before it was sold to help fund the purchase of a property north of Auckland.

Wagon wheels

Three or four years later, while driving through Hamilton, Ian and Jenny spotted a blue HK Premier wagon driving along the road. As they followed the Holden, it turned into a car dealer’s yard, and the couple speculated that the wagon might be up for sale. As they stopped and waited, the Holden’s owner emerged, giving Ian the chance to ask if he wanted to sell the Premier. The car wasn’t for sale at that stage, but telephone numbers were exchanged and, as luck would have it, a few months later Ian received a call from the owner. He was no longer using the original, three-owner Premier and wanted to sell it to someone who would look after it. After taking his mate, Barry, to Hamilton to check the car out, a deal was done and Ian owned the wagon. That all happened back in 1987.

A spot of research by Ian confirmed that the Aussie-built Premier wagon had been originally shipped to New Zealand on the boat Karepo, arriving at Terry Motors in Blenheim (now named Wadsco Motors) on April 8, 1969.

A few words on the HK

The 1968 HK ranks among the most important models in Holden’s history, and at the time undoubtedly represented the manufacturer’s most ambitious series to date, bringing a large array of additional models that were sleeker, looked more muscular, and offered better safety features.

Prior to the release of the HK, Holden’s position on the Australian and New Zealand markets had looked unassailable. But the arrival of Ford’s V8-optional XR Falcon created a new set of buyer expectations, which left Holden with no other option than to introduce a seriously modernized full-sized vehicle line-up — one with the potential to drastically outshine the previous HD–HR models. 

Whilst six-cylinder engines still powered the majority of Holdens sold, the introduction of a single, Chevrolet 5.0-litre V8-powered HK model — usually equipped with two-speed Powerglide transmission — saw around 15 per cent of buyers opting for the bent eight. With pressure on Australian car manufacturers to contain costs and maximize Australian content, the subsequent models, the HT (halfway through the model run) and HG, received 4.2-litre and 5.0-litre versions of an all-Australian V8.

The HK was also the first Holden to wear the soon-to-be-famous Kingswood name for the volume-selling model, replacing the name Special, whilst the base-model sedan was called Belmont. The luxury, flagship model, the Premier, might seem sparsely-furnished when compared to the most basic of today’s Holdens, but it was nothing less than prestigious transport when new. This model remained in Holden’s line-up and, together with its less luxuriously appointed stablemates, offered a larger choice of engines, transmissions and options than had previously been seen in a mass-produced Australian car.

From tidy-up to restoration

Ian and Jenny used the Premier for weekend travels to Warkworth for around the following 10 years. After that, apart from the odd run, the Holden was effectively laid up for about 12 years.
Ian put the Premier back on the road in 2013, with the help of his friend, Brian Thurston, who also used to work at Reo Motors in Takapuna, and Mike Parr of Mike Parr Automotive in Glenfield. Both Brian and Mike are as passionate about Holdens as Ian.

The initial work included replacing all wheel cylinders and brake linings, as nothing much else had been done to the car, except for a new clutch and exhaust system installed back in 1986. 

With that work complete, the wagon was back on the road, but only a few months later, Ian decided it was time to treat the Premier to a tidy-up. With that in mind the wagon was taken to Dave at Auto Blast in Porana Road, Glenfield. There, the Holden’s underside was sandblasted and repainted with Resene Durepox. The car was then taken to Ian Hackett, of CarPro in Milford, for a small tidy-up, but things soon grew beyond that point.

Ian and Jenny were originally only going to strip and respray the Holden’s roof, but ended up respraying the whole car after attending to a few minor rust repairs.

The interior was completely stripped of all panels, seats, and carpet before the bodywork commenced. The motor was also removed and checked. While it was out of the car, Michael Parr Automotive replaced the front timing gear and frost plugs, and installed a full gasket set.
The body was then taken back to CarPro where the front guards were removed, and all rust repairs completed. All the doors were removed, old car-park dings and dents were repaired, and the roof was fully stripped and painted in its original shade of Ermine White. The body was then repainted, using Glasurit paint, once again to the original colour — in this case, Hacienda Blue. To complete the wagon’s exterior, the bumpers and wheel trims were re-chromed.

Once the Holden had been returned to Ian’s home garage, he decided to install a more sporty HK GTS dashboard, one that included instrument gauges rather than warning lights — with the ‘new’ speedometer being recalibrated to reflect the wagon’s original 94,000 miles (151,278km). Ian also installed the original seats, panels and carpets, while Brian Thurston attended to any final mechanical work. As a nice period finishing touch, Ian also fitted a set of blinds for the rear side windows, these having been purchased from Australia. 

The car was quite literally finished just days before our photo shoot, and while there are still a few minor jobs that need attending to, it’s abundantly clear that Ian and Jenny will have a great time over the Christmas break enjoying their gorgeous, freshly refurbished Premier wagon.

But wait, as they say on the TV advertisements, there’s more … Ian is still on the lookout for either an HK, HT or HG Holden utility, preferably an HK — naturally — or HR Premier, so if you can help be sure to let us know, and we’ll pass on the information. 

1968 HK Holden Premier Station Wagon

Engine: Holden in-line six-cylinder
Capacity: 3048cc (186ci)
Bore/stroke: 3.625 x 3.00mm
Valves: Two per cylinder
C/R: 9.2:1
Max power: 94kW at 4200rpm
Max torque: 245Nm at 1600rpm
Fuel system: Bendix-Stromberg single-barrel downdraught carburettor
Transmission: Three-speed column-change manual
Suspension: Front: Independent with coil springs, stabiliser bar, direct-acting telescopic shocks. Rear: Semi-elliptic springs, direct-acting telescopic shocks
Steering: Recirculating ball/power assisted
Brakes: Drum/drum, servo assisted


Overall length: 4694mm
Width: 1814mm
Height: 1435mm
Wheelbase: 2819mm
Track F/R: 1451mm/1451mm
Kerb weight: 1390kg


Max speed: 151kph
0-100kph: 14.7 seconds
Standing ¼ mile: 19.4 seconds
Total HK Production: 199,039
(All models — January 1968–April 1969)

The Jowett Jupiter turns 70

John Ball has always enjoyed tinkering with old boats and cars. He’s old enough to think having gearbox parts on newspaper on the floor of his bedroom, while the relevant car sat waiting on nail boxes, was a normal part of growing up. His passion has always tended towards old British bangers. He reckons he’s fortunate not to have got caught up in the American muscle scene.
John’s love affair with this Jupiter started in December 2015 when, with some time on his hands during a Christchurch trip, he searched online for ‘cars, before 1970 and in Christchurch’.

A passion for classics and customs

In the highly competitive field of New Zealand classic and custom restorations, reputations are won or lost on the ability to maintain consistently high standards of workmanship. A company managing to achieve this is D A Panel beating Ltd, of Rangiora near Christchurch. Is your classic or custom car restoration stalled, or in need of a refresh, or perhaps you are looking for experts to rebuild that recent import project out of Europe or the ‘States?