The Red Flames Burn - What Do You Reckon 437

By: Glenn Torrens

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holden commodore wagon 3 holden commodore wagon 3

Glenn Torrens is sitting in the corner, a tear in his eye quietly surveying his fleet of Holdens

So that's it, ay? Holden – Australia’s Own – is gone. The brand I grew up loving – in that peculiarly Australian, school-kid rival Holden vs Ford society that I now consider myself extremely lucky to have grown up in – was shut down last month.

Inevitable? Yes… Grown-up car-magazine-writer-me knows, for the past decade, it was probably inevitable (and the fact we had our Aussie car industry at all, or for so long, is considered by many to be something of a miracle in the industrialised world)

Maybe no. But you’d have to go back maybe 20 years to divert us away from this disaster that happened on Monday. Little-boy me wants to throw teddy from the cot and cry myself to sleep.

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Right now, I’m sick of reading "Holden’s Demise: Everything You Need To Know" type headlines. I’m especially sick of the barrage of peoples’ ‘opinions’: ‘I Saw This Coming Three Years Ago’ (oh, really?!); ‘Didn’t Ya Know Holden Is Owned By General Motors Anyway’; ‘It’s Dead Because My Mate’s Ford Went Faster’, ‘They’ve Been Shit Since My Uncle Crashed his Kingswood And Didn’t Even Get a Dent’.

A few slightly more (maybe) switched-on enthusiasts have made mention of various government policies and market situations that have helped and hindered the Australian car industry over the generations... but some of these more scholarly ‘opinions’ seem to be voiced by people who have cherry-picked factoids from various Facebook pages rather than done – or researched – anything actually useful.

There are many inter-twined reasons why Holden is no more…

Usually, at the end of my monthly ramble, I’ll ask: "What do you reckon?" and look forward to enjoying some of the responses that the team here at Unique Cars magazine receives. But right now – sorry – I’m not interested in what anyone else thinks. I just want to sit and reminisce and look at pictures of Holdens.

I’m thankful I got the opportunity to drive and witness some seriously cool stuff that Holden – and the Australian industry – did for the seven decades that it made cars here and the three decades I enjoyed all Aussie cars since getting my licence and working in car magazines.

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But despite the doom and gloom of the past few years – that came to its conclusion two days ago – I’m also buoyed by people’s passion for Holden. The brand may soon be gone but people’s enthusiasm and desire for enjoying their Holdens and restorations etc will remain, stronger than ever it seems.

The red flames burn.

Thankfully, there is terrific aftermarket support for our Holdens – everyone from big units such as Rare Spares, to smaller mobs such as AusClassics and Nucom Parts, to the blokes behind the counter at your local old-school parts shop – and I reckon that will grow, not diminish.

I’m lucky enough to own a few Holdens. Based on what some good folk have said to me, it seems many of you also love my nothing-really-special brown 1979 VB Commodore SL wagon as much as I do. I’ve also shown you my ’89 VN Calais; I have another couple of Commodores, too, and I’ll be sharing their progress in Our Cars as it happens.

Yes, I look forward to the day when I wake up and leap out of bed, rarin’ to go for a full day of working on a resto or going for a cruise… just not this week. I’m just a bit sad right now.

 

From Unique Cars issue 437, Mar 2020

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