For over thirty years Russell has been driving his 1967 HR Holden around Wanaka and Twizel, reveling in the car's ability to navigate winter's ice and snow and deliver him safely. His car and his humour are well known locally and his car is a common feature against the picturesque backdrop.
Russell's love of Holden cars started with a memorable trip early on in his marriage. "We were away for two or three weeks, travelling around the South Island. All I needed was my beautiful wife and a mattress in the back of the Holden, it was unforgettable" said Russell.
Performance was improved over the HD by virtue of enlarged 161 and 186 versions of the red engine with higher compression ratios and many minor improvements. A twin carburettor X2 option available on the 186 delivered 109 kW (145 bhp), making it the most powerful Holden engine to date.
Six months after launch, all HRs were given a safety upgrade with the standard addition of front seat belts, windscreen washers, reversing lights, padded sunvisors and a shatterproof interior mirror.
From June 1967, a new '186S' engine became available as an option. Boasting the same output as the X2 engine it replaced, this two-barrel single carburettor engine delivered its power more smoothly and featured Holden's first automatic choke.
Driveline firsts for the HR were an optional limited slip differential and an all-synchro floor shift four-speed manual gearbox, offered as an $85 factory option.
The new Trentham plant is officially opened on August 25th 1967 by the Prime Minister Sir Keith Holyoake. It began producing Holdens and Vauxhalls. It was a typically large manufacturing complex of its day. A concrete floor lay beneath a fibrocement low-line roof.
The conveyer belts were set out in rows. It was cold and draughty in winter, hot and sticky in summer, unavoidably dirty in places and inevitably noisy. Hundreds of people were employed there and, according to staff photographs and newsletters still remaining, more than a few enjoyed the experience.