Holden statesman 1973 de ville

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The Aussie-built Japanese limousine

When Isuzu needed a limo in its line-up, it turned to Holden.

We’ve already covered the Mazda Roadpacer, that ill-conceived take on the Holden Kingswood powered by Mazda’s ubiquitous rotary engine. More recently, we discovered the Daewoo Royale Salon with more than a passing resemblance to our own VB Commodore.

And then there’s this, the Isuzu Statesman De Ville, a rebadged Holden HQ Statesman intended for the Japanese market.

The story goes… well, there’s not a lot of story, the Statesman De Ville conspicuous by its absence in official Isuzu history. Maybe it’s because they only sold around 250 of them (246, according to some sources).

What is known is that unlike the Mazda Roadpacer, which arrived in Japan from Holden in knockdown form, the Isuzu Statesman was built in Australia and exported to Japan as a complete car.

Externally, the Isuzu Statesman can be distinguished by its Japanese-spec rear-view mirrors prominent on the front guards and a different design of wheel cover. Conspicuous by their inclusion, were GMH's famous lion logo badges, Isuzu not even bothering to rebrand the De Ville for their own domestic market.

Inside, it was a different story, the Isuzu Statesman offering trim levels that would make most Aussie buyers squirm. A patterned velour-like seat trim – available in an array of colours, included an eye-watering green on green – spoke to the luxury Japanese market while Japanese buyers could option either bucket seats up front or the more cuddle-friendly bench seat.

Under the bonnet, all Isuzu Statesmans (Statesmen?) received Holden’s 5.0-litre V8 mated to a three-speed automatic with a steering-column mounted shifter.

It’s fair to say the Isuzu Statesman de Ville wasn’t the roaring success the Japanese manufacturer hoped it would be. In a segment dominated by the Toyota Century, the Statesman de Ville cut an imposing figure with its big Aussie V8, rated at around 165kW, under that long snout.

But, in a country where culturally bigger isn’t always better, the Isuzu Statesman de Ville struggled to find its place and after three years on sale between 1973-76, and having shifted only 246 of the big, limo-like sedan, Isuzu quietly scrapped the model from its line-up.

It wasn’t all bad news for exported Aussie-built HQ Statesmans though, which enjoyed sales of around 3000 cars in South Africa from 1973-74 where it was marketed as the Chevrolet Constantia.

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