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The original Statesman HQ long-wheelbase sedans were released on July 22, 1971 as a replacement for the HG series Holden Brougham, although drawings exist of an HQ Brougham, albeit in short-wheelbase guise.

The first Statesmans were based on these short-wheelbase Holden HQ variants. Statesman was initially offered in two specifications, an upmarket Statesman de Ville and a basic Statesman Custom. Engines ranged from a 202 cubic inches (3.3 L) Red six-cylinder, a 253 cubic inches (4.1 L) V8, a 308 cubic inches (5.0 L) V8 and a 350 cubic inches (5.7 L) Chevrolet Small-Block V8, however the de Ville featured the 308 engine as standard equipment. Compared to the short-wheelbase Holden HQ models, the Statesman featured a wheelbase extended by 3 inches (76 mm), totalling 114 inches (2,900 mm), in common with the HQ range of Holden station wagons. The extra length was incorporated behind the rear doors to allow for additional rear seat legroom.

The Statesman was intended as a rival for Ford Australia’s successful Fairlane which had debuted in Australian-designed form as the ZA series in March 1967. The Fairlane had created a new and exclusive category of Australian-made prestige cars. It was derived from the Falcon, with an extended wheelbase and unique front-end and rear-end styling to differentiate the car's appearance. At the time, this category of vehicle proved to be very profitable, in that the sale price was significantly higher than the base car from which the prestige model was derived, and the additional costs of production were only moderate. GM-H went to some length to set the new luxury Statesman marque apart from the Holden equivalent in their sales literature. for the new models, totally avoiding the presence of the name "Holden", even to the extent of using the term "General Motors" in lieu of "General Motors-Holden's". Advertisements in newspapers among other mediums followed the same format.

Statesman HQ models were marketed in South Africa as the Chevrolet Constantia and the Chevrolet de Ville and were exported to many other countries as the Chevrolet 350. From 1973 to 1976 HQ and HJ models were exported to Japan as the Isuzu Statesman De Ville. Isuzu sold 246 De Villes between late 1973 and 1976.