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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:29 am
An Australian mechanic working in Iraq meets a fellow Aussie who’s up on blocks and down on his luck:
A few days ago I was out road testing a Chevy-badged Holden Commodore when out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a wrecked car in one of the back streets of the Green Zone in Baghdad. Something about it was vaguely familiar …
To my complete amazement it turned out to be a badly beat up HR Holden, one of the last things you could ever expect to see in Iraq. Going by the orange painted front guards and rear quarter panels, the old HR had been in use as a taxi cab. The car was left-hand drive and on close inspection it seemed that the conversion had been done in a professional manner.
It’s hard to tell what finally killed the car, but a missing cylinder head coupled with a lack of spare parts probably spelled the end of its time on Iraqi roads. The Iraqis are masters are keeping old cars mobile after living with years of sanctions and parts shortages, but this old soldier was obviously beyond even their means.
One of my Iraqi employees was familiar with the HR, and said that there were quite a few on the roads back in the ‘60s. He thought that Holden was an English brand, and had no idea how these cars ended up in the Middle East.
Coincidentally, the parents of our mate in Iraq owned an HR—notorious for its “kidney slicer” headlight surrounds—when he was young. As for the Commodore, it’s apparently one of three imported from Dubai for use by US army officers. All three bear the Capone-style marks of a mortar attack:
UPDATE. Holden expert Neil Lyons writes: “It was the 1965-66 HD Holden that had the ‘kidney slicer’ headlight surrounds, not the 66-67 HR Holden. The ‘kidney slicer’ was the main feature they tried to remove with the HR make-over.”
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