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Holden exit: Lion brand to honour its heritage

History: A selection of the last locally made Holden cars will be retained by the company for a proposed Holden Heritage Centre that could be based in Lang Lang (left) or Elizabeth (below).

Heritage centre – or two – proposed to house Holden’s historic car collection


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14 Oct 2017

THE last locally made Commodore sedan, wagon and ute and Caprice to come off Holden’s production line at Elizabeth, South Australia, this week will be retained by the company for display alongside other historic Holden cars in a proposed Holden Heritage Centre.

In fact, Holden might even end up with two heritage centres – one in each of the two states where it has made most of its cars, Victoria and South Australia. The company is still trying to decide.

In Victoria, Fishermens Bend – home to Holden’s head office and site of the factory that built Holden’s first all-Australian car in 1948 – and the Holden proving ground at Lang Lang are among the candidates.

In South Australia, the Elizabeth factory where Holden is set to slam the bags on Australian manufacturing on Friday, is also a potential site. A temporary heritage centre is being established there while decisions are made.

Apart from hanging on to the final cars for its own collection, Holden will also donate one of the last Commodores to the Australian National Museum in Canberra, and has arranged a display of cars in a simulated manufacturing scenario at the National Motor Museum at Birdwood, in the Adelaide Hills.

And as GoAuto has reported, three special-edition Commodores – a Motorsport, Director and Magnum – from the final batch are being auctioned this weekend to benefit charity.

Holden communications director Sean Poppitt said that despite the closure of Holden manufacturing in Australia this week, Holden would always honour its heritage.

He said Holden could trace its origins back to 1856 – further than any other car brand except Peugeot which started out in 1810 as a bicycle and coffee machine manufacturer.

Mr Poppitt said Holden had gone through five phases, first as a saddle-maker, then as a carriage manufacturer, then as a car body builder, before switching to armaments in World War II, and then to building and developing its own all-Australian cars in 1948.

He said with the end of local manufacturing this week, Holden would enter a sixth phase as a sales and marketing enterprise, but still with a strong design and engineering presence in Australia.

Holden has a large collection of historic production and concept cars spread around the country, with some on loan to museums, others on display in its head office ground floor in Melbourne, and others in storage.

Among the concepts in the collection are the famous Hurricane sports coupe, Torana GTR-X sports coupe and the major fan favourite, the retro-styled Efijy concept.

Mr Poppitt said that until Holden had decided what to do about its proposed heritage centre, the final production cars to be reserved for the company’s collection would be held at the Elizabeth plant where the decommissioning process is expected to take at least 18 months.

A small museum – unfortunately off limits to the public in the inner sanctum of an Elizabeth factory administration building – also has been established to retain a selection of historic items, from marketing materials to production gadgets, until a permanent home is settled.

In a farewell to Elizabeth where Holden has been making cars for almost six decades, Holden this weekend has arranged a parade of up to 1500 vehicles owned by Holden customers, fans and employees, through the streets of the city, past the Holden factory and to a local football ground for a show-and-shine display.

While the fans and people of Elizabeth are honouring Holden’s past, Holden’s future – its new imported, Insignia-based Commodore – is on display this weekend at Melbourne’s Motorclassica motoring show.

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