Holden would make the cars in Australia and export them as Holden Premiers, the luxury version of the Kingswood, to Japan, where they would be given even further added attractions.
The car was supposed to be used by high-ranking government officials, but the timing of the enterprise could hardly have been worse.
The gas-guzzling Kingswood-derivative was first sent to Japan in 1975.
Sales weren’t ever as good as hoped for, however, and were not aided by the oil shock, which sent petrol prices skyrocketing throughout the 1970s.
After selling only 800 units in two years, Mazda withdrew the Kingswood from the Japanese market.
The main character of the show, Ted Bullpitt, routinely derided Japanese cars during the program’s run from 1980 to 1984, using such terms as “Datsun deviant” for drivers of Nissan vehicles.
Ironically, the Kingswood would soon become an even bigger icon in its home country with the debut of Kingswood Country, a TV comedy about a bigoted suburban Australian man and his family whose great pride and joy was owning a Kingswood.
But it wasn’t just Kingswoods, either, that Australian automakers (well, Holden) were sending to Japan.
Arguably the premiere Australian vehicle, the Statesman de Ville, had also gotten a run in the Land of the Rising Sun a couple of years earlier and uncannily left an almost identical record.
The de Ville, also made by Holden, had been added to the Isuzu lineup of passenger vehicles for 1973-4.
It retailed at a then hefty 3.48 million yen (when starting wages were just over 60,000 yen per month).
Though car enthusiasts and critics were generally upbeat about the de Ville, it failed to touch a nerve with consumers despite golf superstar Jack Nicklaus being used to plug the car in Japan.
The de Ville was removed from the Isuzu range in 1975 after having sold fewer than 250 cars in the then still booming Japanese auto market.
Alas, despite the best efforts of Australian workers, the Oz automaking industry would ultimately suffer the same ignominious fate as its luxury car exports to Japan had seen: humiliating ends.
Buffered by considerable protection into the 1980s, the Australian car manufacturing industry coughed and spluttered its way through the final decade of the 20th century and into the first years of the new millennium.
But by the second decade of the 21st century it was clear that Australian automakers had priced themselves out of the market, mostly by overpaying C Suite types, but also by being unable to compete with countries that did not pay workers a fair wage.
Holden and Toyota Australia were the last automakers to maintain manufacturing plants in Australia, but both closed in 2017.
Holden and Ford Australia still have design and development facilities operating in Australia, so the country is still theoretically capable of producing cars.
Jack Nickalus advertising the Holden Statesman de Ville in Japan
Our tour has reached Kyoto, remarkably with only minor injuries and not a single puncture in the more than 11,000 kilometers the cyclists covered collectively since setting out from Izumi, Kagoshima Prefecture, on the morning of October 1.
The group battled a barrage of rain on the most prominent of climbs on Mount Aso and Koyasan, but got through unscathed each time.
The tour drew to a close in a journey between the two ancient capitals of Nara, where participants frolicked with the deer roaming freely through the city and saw its lauded Great Buddha at Todaiji, and Kyoto, where the group lunched at Inari Taisha Jinja.
Only a farewell dinner remains in a tour that passed way too quickly, but ends with typically outstanding timing as Typhoon No. 19 prepares to slam into Japan.
Incredibly, the final leg of the tour also included an unexpected encounter with a pack of kangaroos.
These marsupials were manufactured types, though, located in a children’s playground alongside the bicycle track running between Nara and Kyoto. The poor macropods had been crafted with a look of sheer terror on their face, perhaps because they were aware of Kangaeroo’s shoddy guiding?
Brommie performed outstandingly on the final leg of the tour.
His broken rack makes him harder to push, but that shouldn’t be an issue for a couple of days at least while he carries Kangaeroo back to Tokyo.
Thanks to Pedal Pedal, Japan Biking and all the tour participants for making it such a magnificent time for Brommie and Kangaeroo.
Glorious weather almost a complete turnaround from the previous day was the hallmark of the penultimate day of the 2019 Kagoshima to Kyoto cycling tour.
Sunny skies greeted the riders as they roused from their sleep in a chilly Koyasan temple.
Riding remained cold and rugging up was the order of the day with the first 20 kilometers of the ride a rousing descent from Koyasan onto the plains of Wakayama Prefecture.
Riders maintained a steady pace following the outstanding bicycle tracks along the Kinokawa River joining Wakayama and Nara prefectures.
Riders passed through some wonderfully quaint mountain villages, rustic farming neighborhoods and winding roads, many barely traversed by other traffic.
Lunch matched the high quality of the ride, with the dishes made earning the highest regard among cyclists of probably any meals served on the tour.
The afternoon was a continuation of the river riding.
Cyclists cranked their bikes along the rivers as they gradually moved toward central Nara.
Finally, after some hiccups in an industrial area and battling train tracks, they wound their way through a delightful series of backstreets in the ancient capital before reaching their lodgings, many completing century treks on the tour’s longest ride.
Perhaps the best news of the day in some regard was the re-emergence of Brommie. The finicky fold-up had virtually no need to climb and would thus not hold up any other riders, so he was given his chance to ride again. And he took it with both wheels open.
Unfortunately, he bumped a few times too many and opened a gash in the welding on his rear rack. Not a major problem, but one that will cost several tens of thousands of yen to repair.
Arriving in Nara, all went their separate ways. Our remaining time together is now less than 24 hours, but we have formed what will hopefully be some lifelong bonds.
Japan, the land of the gods, threw everything at the Tour de Kagoshima-Kyoto on Day 8, but the riders came up trumps, scaling the queen stage unscathed.
Despite persistent drizzle, the tour made it to the World Heritage List site Koyasan without injury or incident.
The tour’s first flat even still remains unclaimed!
Following the previous day’s travelling exertions, it was back on the bikes from Wakayama.
Almost half of the day’s ride was occupied on a beautiful cycling track with barely anybody else using it.
The track ran along the Kinokawa River and offered some nice views of the waterway, as well as distant mountains.
Looming over cyclists, however, was the constant presence of Koyasan.
The ride remained steady until lunch. Surprisingly, Kangaeroo’s early group ran into another bunch that were supposed to have been well behind, but had taken a short cut. The entire troup met for a superb lunch of chirashi-zushi and some also had ice creams.
Forecast rain arrived barely minutes into the afternoon leg and was a near constant thereafter.
As riders gained elevation, visibility was lost.
By the time the troupe reached the Daimon gate at the summit of Koyasan to welcome visitors to the Buddhist town, mist was so thick the normally imposing gate could barely be seen.
Showers were more welcome than usual following the cold, wet ride.
Warming cyclists’ hearts, however, was the news that the tour’s climbing is essentially over and it is, literally, all downhill from here (actually, there’s lots of flats, but nobody wants to let the truth get in the way of a good yarn, do they?)
And Brommie? Well, with so much climbing there was really only one place for the old foldup to play a part….warming up the back of the truck. His day will come again soon.