1 Oct 1979
The TE Gemini marked the model’s halcyon days. Holden altered almost every panel to create a sort of mini VB Commodore – then Australia’s favourite car.
The coupe disappeared, new wheels, cabin trim, seats and instrumentation were implemented, the SL/X replaced the SL/E, and suspension modifications improved the harsh ride while not affecting the TD’s accomplished handling.
Power dropped again (in the interests of fuel economy – a big selling point back in ’79), to 50kW and 110Nm.
The omnipresent mechanical din was reduced too. Initially Gemini sales skyrocketed against ageing rear-drive rivals like the Ford Escort, Toyota Corolla and Datsun Sunny, until Ford’s original (KA) Laser blitzed all others and popularised front-wheel drive small cars to Australians.
Suddenly the “Gem-Gem-Gemini” seemed very old and cramped indeed.
The Sandpiper II special edition was all Holden could hurl at the Laser, along with a sluggish 40kW/105Nm 1.5-litre diesel SL/X sedan sourced from Isuzu that proved popular with country folk.