Auction watch: Max Wilson executive-special HJ Statesman coupe!

This uber-rare factory project coordinated by Leo Pruneau is crossing the block soon


If there’s one upshot to last week’s closure of the beloved National Holden Motor Museum (aside from the directors enjoying a well-deserved retirement), it’s that all sorts of rare and special goodies are being spotlighted as part of the clear-out process.  

High among them is a HJ ‘Wilson’ special coupe: a Monaro converted to wear as much Statesman kit as humanly possible, at the request of American GM-H executive Max Wilson.  

In his round-up or special Monaros (see below), Dave Carey describes Wilson, who was then GM’s Director for the Asia-Pacific region, as a bloke with “a penchant for Cadillacs but a dislike of formal sedans.” Wilson had previously ordered a 400ci Oldsmobile-powered HQ LS, demonstrating that luxury coupes with a touch of difference were right up his alley.

Legendary director of design Leo Pruneau was tasked with building at least two of these coupes – the first with HJ Statesman parts, and the second believed to be with HX equipment.  

According to correspondence with Pruneau in the late 1990s, the stock Monaro chassis, suspension and wheel-and-tyre specs were all left in-place. Exterior-wise, it got the same front sheet metal, bootlid, wheel covers, badging, and vinyl roof as an HJ Caprice, plus Sienna paint. Even the badging proclaimed the car as a Statesman Caprice, while the pinstripe design was tweaked to match the Monaro’s contours.

The fit-out carried through the interior, melding Monaro parts like the instrument panel and seats with Sienna-coloured Caprice trim and soft-touch stuff wherever possible.  

“Before delivery to Mr. Wilson, the Caprice Coupe was used as a special exhibit car on the GM stand at the Melbourne – and I believe Sydney – Motor Shows at the time,” Pruneau wrote.  

“The design as well as all the modifications to the car were carried out entirely by and within GM Holden’s Design Department, Technical Centre, Fisherman’s Bend, Victoria.” 

After Wilson’s ownership, the coupe was reportedly offered to the Holden dealers and snapped up by Suttons Motors in Homebush, NSW. When a private owner bought the car, 500km were said to be on the clock.

The HJ now shows 20,242km, and will be auctioned alongside the rest of the museum’s huge collection on-site on May 18-19. Everything from FX Holdens to clay models and prototype engines will go under the hammer. It’s all being catalogued right now now; you can find all the photos and details on the Burns & Co website.