Opinion

Farewell to an Aussie icon - but keep polishing

By Shepparton News

Australians have always loved their cars.

Perhaps because of the vast distances between urban and rural centres, Australians took to the freedom the car offered at the turn of the last century like no other nation.

And Sheppartonians are no exception.

It is no accident we have a thriving motor museum, more car washes than you can throw a hose at, and countless precious custom cars lovingly cared for in sheds and garages across the district.

A love of cars has been a part of Australia's and Shepparton's history for a long time, and as the only Australian brand, we have embraced Holden vehicles as part of the family.

Car trips to the beach in a Kingswood, watching Peter Brock burn the competition at Bathurst or steamy nights in a panel van are seared into the memories of many.

As our stories in today's News show, we have loved our Holdens with a passion.

They have always been more than a car, or even a brand; they are pure Australiana.

So when Holdens stopped being made in Australia in 2017 something died.

We fell out of love. This is shown in the figures — sales plummeted from a high of 170 000 a month in 2005, to just over 40 000 in 2019.

Because of its Aussie nostalgia value, it is easy to forget that Holden had been a subsidiary of the United States-based General Motors since 1931.

This week's news that General Motors will retire the iconic Holden and close down Australian operations would come as no surprise to market watchers.

Business is a cold pursuit; it does not thrive on emotional attachment.

General Motors’ reasoning that to invest money in an ailing brand is throwing good money after bad makes sound business sense.

Nevertheless it is an emotional blow to Holden enthusiasts — and a real punch in the gut to hundreds of employees in Australia and New Zealand.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has accused GM of letting the brand "wither away" despite millions of taxpayer dollars poured into the company.

But there are silver linings behind this cloud.

Parts and service commitments will continue for at least 10 years, and, for now, doors will remain open at Holden dealerships so it could be a good time to wrangle a good deal.

And if you own a vintage Australian-made Holden — keep polishing.

Peter Brock's 1982 Holden Commodore sold for $2.1 million in 2018.