HomeCar CultureMy Classic CarMy Classic Car: John’s 1959 Holden Special

My Classic Car: John’s 1959 Holden Special


John's first drive was 90 mph in a 30 zone | Say Monkey photograph
John’s first drive was 90 mph in a 30 zone | Say Monkey photograph

It wasn’t my car, it was my Dad’s Holden. I had my license for a couple of years and my Dad bought this Holden. I’d had an old 1948 Morris 8 which was just a heap. It cost me $35 to buy and hundreds to keep it on the road.

Dad got this Holden Special — what an awesome vehicle — and I was a little scared of this powerful car so i didn’t drive it. However, one Saturday night, me and my two mates, Andy and Wayne, where going to a Scottish dance in Onehunga, not to far from where i lived at the time, and they come to pick me up and Andy asked if he could drive Dad’s car as his Holden was playing up.

We got to the dance and had a great time. We had some ladies we were hanging out with at the time. We were about to leave and Andy reckoned he was feeling crook so he asked me to drive. I said I wasn’t confident to drive this beast, I mean, it had a grunty 186 horsepower, which in essence wasn’t all that powerful but when you are used to a side-valve 8-hp powerpower plant it was a beast.

I got behind the wheel and I felt like I had a V8 under the bonnet. I felt a renewed sense of confidence and barreled down Mt. Smart Rd doing 90 miles per hour even though the speed limit was only 30. I could have been done like a dinner if a cop had seen me.

I never looked back after that night; my Dad had problems getting his car back. Served him right, and that was one of the many stories in my repertoire.

Sadly, my Dad sold his Holden a couple of years latter and he bought himself a 1971 Skoda Octavia Combi. I didn’t speak to him for month after that little debacle.

— John Phillips, Otahuhu, South Auckland, New Zealand

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  1. A lovely car John and no wonder you were all proud of it, but they never had a “186 HP” engine, they had a 132 cub inch 6 cyl rated at about 20+, but fast for their day in as “locally” producedd in our part of the world.
    I can understand why you were a litlle “cranky” with your dad.
    Thanks for the story.

  2. Hi John G’day from the mainland. Even those old Skodas have a following these days.
    I came across a Holden like your dad’s at an air/auto show in UK while I lived there ten years or so ago – they’re not exactly thick on the ground in England so it was a nice reminder of home (you take what you can get when you live in a country where the lunatics run the asylum). I asked the driver “Is it true?” Naturally he wanted to know was what true? “I understand this model has 21 places within reach of the driver’s seat where it’s possible to remove the crown cap from a bottle of beer” He laughed and, while he had never actually tried it, he had no doubt whatsoever that this would be a fact.
    They don’t make them like they used to – try that in a new Toyota.

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