There was a time when the sight of Holden’s iconic logo would make an Aussie feel warm and fuzzy with pride.
Often covering a monster V8 engine, anyone other than a Ford-hugging fanboy would call it an Aussie icon and an institution in most homes throughout the ages.
These were the cars our fathers drove. Our father’s fathers drove.
King of the Mountain: Peter Brock will forever be linked to the iconic brand. He is pictured here in 1983 after winning the race in a Holden Commodore. Prime Minister Bob Hawke can be seen in the background
A spectator holds on to a car performing a burnout on Tuff Street during the Summernats car festival in Canberra in 2012. Holdens will become increasingly rare on the young street scene with its planned demise
Peter Brock’s 1978 A9X Torana on the Gold Coast in 2009. Similar versio ns are worth bucket loads today and are likely to be worth even more with the demise of the Holden brand
My grandfather was getting about in a yellow Gemini up until the day he died.
He would have rolled in his grave the day I blew that car’s engine. And again when I blew it the second time.
No doubt he’s rolling in his grave again now, with word the Holden brand will die too.
How could it come to be? This is a brand as Australian as Foster’s Lager, Vegemite and Barbecue Shapes.
That Gemini was my first car and in the years since I’ve gone onto love the Holden Lion and Stone and some of the classic vehicles it has sat upon.
I’m told today that kids couldn’t care less about it.
The petrol heads that have thrashed their precious Australian-built engines over the years have gone so far as to make them look like an American car.
This includes – God forbid – jemmying off the Holden badge and replacing it with a Chevrolet one.
You’d be right if you thought this kind of action was un-Australian.
It’s the kind of behaviour that will see the brand all but vanish from Australian roads.
General Motors will not just axe the Holden name but also stop selling cars altogether in Australia.
The dumping of the Holden nameplate will end a motoring tradition that began in November 1948 when the first 48-215 rolled off the production line at the Fisherman’s Bend factory in Port Melbourne.
The Night Rider: That is his name. Remember him when you look to the night sky. He died with his ‘floozy’ while driving a HQ Monaro in the movie Mad Max
The HQ Monaro on its last ride down the rubber road to freedom. It had been hotted up for the Mad Max movie, but remains a much loved vehicle among Holden fans
I wonder if the Chev-badged bogans who desecrated their actual Holdens will feel kind of dumb when thousands of them are cruising about next year?
I know for one, I’ll be cranking the engine of my 5.0 litre, VL Calais just a little louder at the lights on its next trip to the bottle shop.
I picked up that VL from a mate back in 2007 when he sadly (for him) had to offload it while going through a messy break-up.
I told him I’d look after it for him and I sure as hell have.
The VL used to be the go to car for youngsters hell bent on going fast and making hoons of themselves.
The Turbo in particular was modded, hotted-up and many times wrapped around a tree.
In Melbourne’s west, where I call home, driving about in the VL turns heads like a Ferrari does.
A lot of people my age, pushing mid 40s, remember those cars as a sign of better, simpler times.
Older and no wiser: Wayne Flower on a trip to Barmah on the Murray River. He ran his VL into a ditch and had to be rescued by a worker from the Barmah Hotel. He repaid the favour with a slab of Crown Lagers
A younger Wayne Flower points to the 5.0 on his VL Calais. He was only starting high school when the car was released but plans to be buried in it
The VL Calais as driven by Wayne Flower. The car remains a head turner in the western suburbs of Melbourne
The VL itself is comically linked to a man who made the Holden brand a legend in this country.
He was known as the King of the Mountain – Peter Brock.
‘Brocky’ had been running Holden’s factory-approved tuning company HDT in the 80s when his loopy idea to jam crystals inside of it saw him dumped.
Brock won the Australian Touring Car Championship three times, the gruelling Bathurst 1000 endurance race an incredible nine times, an achievement that’s yet to be matched, won the Sandown 500 touring car race another nine times, and did some open-wheel racing and European touring car racing as well.
He was at the top of his game when he wanted to jam a ‘Energy Polarizer’ in the VL.
It’s a long story, but Brock believed the crystals could make the car drive better.
‘It’s a magic cure. It makes a sh*thouse car good,’ he said.
It didn’t and Brock was sent packing by Holden.
He sadly died in the 2006 Targa West rally at the age of 61. But remains a Holden legend.
Holden is baked into Australian history. A history that sadly might now be forgotten by a younger generation who will likely only ever drive electric cars.
The maker of popular models including the Kingswood and Torana, was for many decades Australia’s most popular car brand, marketing itself during the 1970s as: ‘Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars’.
Its market share has gradually eroded since Bob Hawke’s Labor government began to unwind Australia’s 57 per cent import tariffs from 1988.
The finish of the 1984 James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst was won by Peter Brock in a VK Holden. Brocky went onto design special vehicles with crystals inside them. The idea never took off
A classic Holden V8 Monaro from the 1970s that was ripped off by a Holden-loving thief. Holden owners have long been targets from lovers of the brand, which will no longer exist
Holden began its life in 1856 as a saddlery and assembled GM cars from the United States that had been sent to Australia in kit form.
General Motors Holden was born in 1931 and during World War II helped support the military among the allied nations.
In 1953, the FJ Holden went on sale for about $2046 new.
Ten years later the iconic Holden EH went into production, with 256,959 built in less than two years.
In 1968, the Kingswood went on sale and was later immortalised in television by Kingswood Country and its character Ted Bullpit.
The V8 Monaro came out that same year and would later feature in the classic Australian movie Mad Max.
The axing of the Holden nameplate will end a motoring tradition that began in November 1948 when the first 48-215 rolled off the production line at the Fisherman’s Bend factory in Melbourne. Pictured is then Labor prime minister Ben Chifley with the first-ever model
In that movie, the HQ Monaro was being driven by a nut job running from the Ford-driving lawmen.
I must have remembered every word of the Night Rider’s rant in the years I was writing-off that Gemini.
‘I’m a fuel-injected suicide machine! I am a rocker, I am a roller, I am an out-of-controller!’.
While Holden released some stinkers over the journey, its demise signals a sad, sorry state of affairs in a country that now thinks building dodgy submarines is better than investing in Aussie car manufacturing.
Maybe our old Holdens will be worth more now?
Who knows. Mine will be stolen before I ever dream of selling it.
So as I took my hat off for the Night Rider after he died in that fiery wrecked Monaro, so too do I take my hat off for Holden.
Onto Valhalla proud lion. Cheers and thanks for the ride.