1979 Holden Gemini TD 1.6L carb from Australia and New Zealand


Great first car for teenager and as strong as an ox


The petrol cap cover broke off and it was very hard to find a replacement. It had a leaky door aswell but all it needed was a new rubber.

General Comments:

Good handling because it is a rear wheel drive, un-like later versions. It was also able to fit 6 inch speakers in the side doors which is fairly hard in cars this old due to space.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th January, 2006

1979 Holden Gemini TD 2 Liter petrol from Australia and New Zealand


An excellent value for money little car; as well as reliable, rugged and impervious to abuse


This actually wasn't my first Holden Gemini.

Through my late teenage years, I had been an avid club racer in my first Gemini, a 1975 model 4 door sedan. My experiences with the previous car had well prepared me for any problems I might have had stumbled across in my ownership of this car.

Basically, the TD Gemini was handed to me in fairly run down condition however there was a lot of potential. I had a lot of parts and engineering expertise at hand, although I had little need for it. I knew the history of the car over the last 8 or so many years, It was merely a shopping trolley and a daily commuter; so I had little or no preconceptions about the car or any expectations. It was extremely cheap, the first item on my repair list was the battery however, and for $39 at the local supermarket I had the car going.

The original 1600cc engine was well worn. It had a burnt exhaust valve which made it a little noisy and rough at idle, an exhaust leak and an uncomfortable drivers seat which was also well worn. With each fill of petrol I considered that I was doubling the value of the car.

All considered, the Gemini was an exceptionally good little car. Even with these little niggling problems (though few) it managed to cover another 30,000km before I decided to make changes and repairs to the car.

General Comments:

It was however very thrifty; it's 52 liter tank giving no less than 550km range around town equivalent to 8.5L / 100km - this was an engine which was very ill however. I soon moved to replace the engine with a new unit, and found for $250 a 2 liter engine from a "Rodeo" (Holden / Isuzu). The engine is a bolt for bolt replacement for the original, and after a minor rebuild was fitted to the car. The standard Nikki carburettor and inlet manifold, as well as exhaust are still in use and with a little fine tuning, the 2 liter powered Gemini is extremely fast and tractable. It has bags of torque in a lightweight and rigid chassis.

The car's already good handling has been improved marginally with the replacement of the original shock absorbers and springs, with new aftermarket components, as well as the placement of a larger (24mm) front sway bar. Wider (and taller 14") rims from an E30 BMW 3 series are fitted to the car to improve the car's surefootedness at speed and in the wet.

Currently the fuel economy is a little worse than that of the 1600cc engine at 9.5 liters / 100km, however no compensation has been made for the use of taller 14" rims to this figure. A correction in the order of 7% may be made to compensate for the innacuracy in the cars' odometer due to this.

Even so; on the highway the car will attain 7.5 Liters / 100km.

The performance of the engine is nothing short of amazing considering it's vintage, and the combination of high levels of adhesion to the road, predictable handling, good brakes and powerful engine make it an extremely rewarding little car to drive. Good tyres are the only thing able to keep down the wheelspin in the wet, even in the higher (3rd & 4th) gears.

More than anything, this car is the type of car that will take a fair bit of abuse or neglect and still lose none of it's luster. The engine is extremely reliable and the gearbox is just as strong. Nothing is unbreakable though; and in this respect, I personally ensure that oil changes are done every 8000km for the engine, 30,000km for the gearbox and differential. Coolant and brake fluid is flushed and replaced on an annual basis.

Originality is possibly an issue to any owner, however my example is wholly Isuzu (the original builder of the Gemini and it's various powerplants).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th September, 2002

12th Mar 2004, 01:19

I thought this was a great review of a great little car! I also own a 1979 Holden Gemini TD and also love it to death. I am amazed at it's reliability and 'gutsiness' and how beautifully the engine goes after all these years. I have been fortunate to have inherited my car from my Grandma (!!!) so the odometer only reads 140000 km. I have heard of a couple of other people putting in the Rodeo engine as well, sounds like a good plan. Hope your little car keeps serving you well and congrats on a great review of a great car.

21st Nov 2004, 02:34

Great review of the Gemini, I too own a Gemini, but the later model TE gemini and I have found these same things you have explained about yours, they're a sweet little car and I am putting a 2 liter Isuzu engine in mine, it'll be off tap!!! go the Gemini!

26th Mar 2005, 04:49

Yep - right on the money. My first car that I was planning to keep only 3 years ended up lasting 11. And still sold it for $500 with no RWC. Bullet-proof, indestructible - cheap to fix.

What's with the constant leak above the drivers foot though?

8th May 2008, 20:23

Yes, these RWD Geminis are really tough cars. I had the Isuzu version in Singapore and they were great handlers, but unappreciated owing to their quirks - odd angled gear stick, wind noise above 90 kmh and a temp gauge that showed 2/3 towards H when stuck in traffic (though it never actually overheated).

1979 Holden Gemini TD 1.6 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Ideal first car


Head gasket needed replacing at 180,000.

General Comments:

This car is a great car, especially for first car buyers like myself. It is fairly cheap to run, and it can put up with a thrashing with no complaints.

The only running problems are...

Up hills. it doesn't like very steep hills, and sometimes a change down to third gear is necessary.

Runs sluggish on 40 degree (celsius) days, but just take it easy and nothing will go wrong.

You can get a top speed of about 160 in this car, on a flat straight road, yet it is doing about 5200rpm at this stage.

Overall, it is a good car to get you from A to B, and I won't be selling mine in the near future.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th February, 2001

8th Apr 2001, 00:20

Well, I am disappointed with the stats on the 79 td. I own the the same make and model, but with the 1.8L 5 speed coupe it is a top car.