1983 Holden Camira SL/X 1.8 petrol


It has no flash, but heaps of substance - 25 years old, and still in daily use


Head gasket blew at 160000km.

Compliant mounting block for carburettor replaced at approx. 180000km.

1.6 litre Engine replaced with second-hand 1.8 litre unit from Leaded JD (model after) at 260000km after spark plug disintegrated and ceramic dust destroyed rings. Car still ran well, just smoked like a chimney, but was unroadworthy for pollution reasons.

Starter motor replaced at approx. 300000km.

Drivers seat replaced at approx. 300000km due to the adjuster breaking.

Alternator replaced at approx. 340000km.

Cylinder head replaced at approx. 350000km due to crack caused by inattention to hoses and loss of coolant... approximately 30000km after that event.

Front right wheel bearing replaced at 360000km due to noise and vibration issues.

Speedo cable replaced at approx. 320000km - damage was probably due to faulty re-fitting following engine replacement, but I'll never prove that of course.

Distributor replaced at approx. 360000km due to internal breakage.

Timing belts, hoses, surge tanks etc. as required - as with all cars, plastic cooling components and belts and hoses need to be thought of as consumable items.

General Comments:

This car is my daily commuter car. I average about 20000km per year, with reasonable fuel economy.

The paint is deteriorating, the interior looks like crap, in short it looks its age.

However, it is - overall - quite reliable provided attention is paid to the things that inevitably need doing on any 20+ year old car. Fluids, hoses, cooling system components... you can't afford to leave little things. The head was replaced precisely because it's still better to keep it running than to replace it with a fresh set of unknown problems in another car.

Parts are starting to get hard to find, but they're not overly expensive and the Family 2 engine is easy to work on. Mechanically, they're reasonably simple and straightforward - I changed the head myself, which is something I'd never contemplate with my wife's Mitsubishi.

It has the usual old-Holden problem with the keys - you can open it and start it with just about anything, so a steering lock is essential. Fortunately, with the price of scrap steel going down, nobody is likely want to steal it apart from joy-riders.

It's an ugly little car that runs well and isn't likely to be stolen from the car park at work.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th January, 2009