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Bullet-proof Holden Caprices “crushed”

Over and out: Holden Caprices once were the mainstay of the federal government’s Comcar fleet, including the prime minister’s armour-plated “C1”. Image credit: ABC News

Federal government parts ways with VIP armoured Holden Caprices

Holden logo14 Sep 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

A PIECE of Australian automotive history reportedly has been crushed into slabs of steel with the disposal of armoured Holden Caprices that once carried Australian prime ministers and other federal government dignitaries to various duties.

The federal attorney-general’s department told GoAuto that the cars reached the end of their life in 2014 and had now been disposed of “in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013”.

“It is not appropriate for us to provide specific details of who now operates the vehicles,” a spokesman for the department said.

However, Melbourne radio 3AW broadcast a rumour from a listener who claimed the vehicles had been crushed at an unnamed metals recycling facility.

Symbolically, the move comes just a few weeks before Holden manufacturing ends in Australia, crushed by multiple forces such as business pressures and federal government indifference.

It is assumed the vehicles were destroyed for security reasons, namely to avoid the possibility of them and their armaments falling into the wrong hands.

Built especially for the federal government by Holden and British arms specialist BAE Systems, the V8 limos were superseded by a fleet of nine armoured BMW 750Lis under former prime minister Tony Abbott’s reign.

The decision to make the switch from the local product to the imported vehicles in 2014 caused a furore, with the Labor Party saying the decision reversed a previous agreement approved by the secretary of the attorney general’s department to replace the previous fleet of Holdens with another fleet of Holden-BAE vehicles.

At the time, opposition industry spokesman Kim Carr described the decision as a snub for Australian manufacturing and part of a vendetta against Holden.

The switch to BMWs in a $6.2 million deal ended a decade-long run of Holden cars for the government elite, including the prime minister’s limo that always carried the federal number plate C1 (Commonwealth One).

The all-white, Australian-developed WM Caprices were frequently seen around Canberra, with prime ministers such as John Howard or Julia Gillard riding – Australian style – in the front passenger seat.

The highlight of television coverage at election time was the shot of the big, spotlessly clean Caprice with a small Australian flag waving on the front sweeping into the gates of the governor-general’s residence at Yarralumla as the prime minister of the day went to start the official election process.

Australian government fleet cars hauling VIPs around Canberra are maintained by Comcar and driven by federal police officers.

Apart from the BMW 7 Series armoured cars, the government also has a fleet of bullet-proof BMW X5s.

Ironically, Holden’s armoured car partner, BAE Systems Australia, is set to take over Holden’s old engine plant in Melbourne’s Fishermans Bend should its bid for a huge, $5 billion contract for 200 armoured military vehicles for the Australian Army be successful.

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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.