Driving home from Holden’s wake
by Andy Bryenton
The press has been full of autopsies of the great Aussie and Kiwi icon Holden lately. Grown men broke down and cried when the auto giant declared that they were pulling up stumps last month — such was the cultural significance of the brand.
They were the grinning best mate who still had a mullet haircut, the intro from AC/DC’s Thunderstruck and the crisp frost on a cold can of beer after a day at the beach rolled into one if you listen to the eulogists.
That, and a car company who sold its soul, lost sight of its roots and started glueing a badge steeped in Bathurst blood, sweat and oil to the front of the wrong machines; if you ask the armchair marketing gurus.
Moreover, though the long shadow of Holden now stands hand-in-hand with the tall guy with the scythe, there’s a bigger question for our national motoring identity here. What do we drive home from the funeral?
If you fancied a hairy-chested v8 with a lazy thump and big armchair seats, Holden, Ford and Chrysler were once pleased to assist. Now your v8 options are limited to a two-door Mustang, and while there is nothing wrong (and oh so much right) about Ford’s pony car, it’s in a field of one. Certainly, the likes of Germany’s big three (Mercedes, BMW and Audi) offer eight-pot machines of creamy, voluminous horsepower.
Price and image conspire to make them different from the working-class hero, which Holden had become in the national psyche. Lexus makes a very nice GS sedan with a crisp V8, a successor to the legendary 1UZFE.
Nevertheless, it’s in the price bracket of the Germans, and as clinical and neat as those old Commodores were loose and brutal. Chrysler’s 300c is no more. Jaguar is a Bond villain to Holden’s gold-hearted larrikin.
Meanwhile, Holden’s parent company GM say that they have zero interest in bringing any of their stable of fun-looking, v8-powered big boys toys to the antipodes with the steering wheel on the correct side.
The Corvette and Camaro, and rival Dodge’s Demons and Hellcats, will remain small-number imports for hardcore fans. So those with Holden Astras will be able to adjust to life with a Suzuki Swift, and Colorado drivers can finally fold and be fought over by Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux campaigns. For the driver who loved Holden for all the right reasons; the ones that involve handing Dad spanners, watching ‘the big race’ on old-fashioned CRT televisions, and eating hot chips off a newspaper in the back of a Kingswood, the choices are few. Here’s a tip.
Buy a good, low kilometre v8 one now. Tuck it away in the garage, and watch the value soar.