The Australian Made Japanese Limo – Drive

We have already covered the Mazda Roadpacer, that poorly designed version of the Holden Kingswood powered by Mazda’s ubiquitous rotary engine. More recently, we discovered the Daewoo Royal Lounge with more than a passing resemblance to our own VB Commodore.

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

The story goes… well, there isn’t much of a story, the Statesman De Ville is conspicuously absent from official Isuzu history. This may be because they only sold about 250 (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 is distinguished by its prominent Japanese-specification mirrors on the front guards and a different design of the wheel cover. Notable for their inclusion of GMH’s famous lion logo badges, Isuzu not even bothering to rebrand the De Ville for its own home market.

Inside it was a different story, with the Isuzu Statesman offering trim levels that would make most Australian buyers squirm. A patterned velor seat upholstery – available in a range of colors including an eye-watering green-on-green – was aimed at the Japanese luxury market while Japanese buyers could choose between bucket seats in the front or the more cuddly bench seat.

Under the hood, all Isuzu Statesmans (Statesmen?) got Holden’s 5.0-liter V8 mated to a three-speed automatic with a column-mounted shifter.

It’s fair to say that the Isuzu Statesman de Ville hasn’t been the runaway success the Japanese automaker hoped for. In a segment dominated by the Toyota Century, the Statesman de Ville cut an imposing figure with its big Australian 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 footing and after three years on sale between 1973 and 1976, and having only displaced 246 of the large limousine-like sedan, Isuzu quietly removed the model from its lineup.

This was not bad news, however, for the exported Australian-built HQ Statesmans, who sold around 3,000 cars in South Africa from 1973 to 1974, where they were marketed as the Chevrolet Constantia.

CONTINUED:Holden Statesman Showroom
CONTINUED:Search used Holden Statesman cars for sale
CONTINUED:Holden Statesman Showroom
CONTINUED:Search used Holden Statesman cars for sale
Rob Margeit

Rob Margeit has been an automotive journalist for over 20 years, covering both motorsport and the automotive industry. Rob joined CarAdvice in 2016 after a long career at Australian Consolidated Press. Rob covers automotive news and car reviews while writing in-depth feature articles on cars and automakers of historical significance. He also enjoys discovering obscure models and researching their genesis and history.

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