With the future of Australian car manufacturing under the spotlight, it may be timely to look back at the Holdens people drove throughout the years throughout the generations. The spotlight today is on my family, going all the way back to the 1950s.
For my family it all started when my pop bought a brand new FJ in 1956 from Gersbachs of Wellington, NSW. This was then replaced with an FB in 1960. He got an EH in 1964. This was the car my dad and my aunty learnt to drive in, they all lived on a farm out at Cumnock. In 1968 it was a HK Belmont. These last few were purchased from Camerons of Orange, back in the days when the dealership was in the main street; this dealership transferred to ‘Cameron Place’ in 1987 and they built the site where Tony Leahey Ford/Nissan/Hyundai is now.
My dad was studying vet science at Sydney University and in his last couple of years he was doing practicals out at Camden, so to make the commute easier he was given a 1966 HR Ute in 1970. He kept this til 1974 when he traded it in on a brand new LH Holden Torana SLR 3300, in turquoise and houndstooth seat trim. Funky.
Meanwhile Pop bought a new HQ in 1972 but the big drought of 1973 wiped the farm out so he and nan sold up and moved into town, and in 1976 got an LX Torana as their last Holden.
In 1977 my parents were married and to fund their first home dad sold his Torana. Not to worry, at the time he had as a work car a HZ Kingswood V8. In 1983 I popped onto the scene, and I came home from hospital in a cream VH Commodore SL, again dad had this as a work car. At the time the main family car was mum’s 1973 Chrysler Galant she was given as a gift; with 2 kids this was too small so the parents got a late model used 1982 JB Camira, not traditional Holden, but still locally made.
The cream VH was followed by a red VH and finally in 1984-5 dad got a WB Statesman Deville as a work car; we were able to use the work car on family trips. In 1986 we bought a new Mitsubishi Magna, and the relationship with the Holden brand temporarily ended.
Now when I was little I was fascinated with cars. When I was 6 I was given a book about Australian cars, and got my first Trax model, and FJ Holden. Dad would tell me all the stories about his father’s FJ Holden, his Torana, and that’s it I was hooked. Throughout my childhood and adolescence I collected Holden models and books. When dad brought home a pool vehicle from work, most of the time it was the latest Holden. When the VT came out, it was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen, and decided my first car (purchased with own money) would be one of those. When I left school in 2000 and went to university, my parents had bought a new VTII Commodore Acclaim.
Now, at university my interest with the brand began to wane. My best mate at Newcastle university was British and was just as much into cars as I was. But not really large Aussie cars, he disliked their dynamics and reliability, but liked the value for money.
So my interest in Aussie cars did wane as through other enthusiasts I was introduced to imported Japanese and European vehicles that I liked. My first car was a 2000 Toyota Corolla Seca, and I replaced this with a new 2005 Toyota Corolla Sedan when I started with the RTA. Through the 2000s I became a bit critical of Holden, especially the Commodore. It was too big, used too much fuel, and wasn’t that safe in NCAP testing. In 2009 the parents bought a new VE Commodore, but advanced age meant it was hard to get in and out of. This was replaced with a Mazda CX-7 in 2011.
Moving on to August 2009 after selling a Nissan Patrol and a small boat I bought my VB Commodore as a hobby/project. When I left my old career, I began working on it, a little bit each day. It was very cathartic as I battled depression. I joined suitable car clubs, and to this day the VB still turns head whenever I take it out, even if it’s just to pop down to Officeworks. It’s an actualisation of teenage desire (though would have preferred a V8 SLE – but meh, that’s life)
After tiring of having small cars I got my VX Commodore Equipe in 2011, and kept it for 2.5 years; However I saw why people are leaving large cars. It was hard to get into standard parking spots and not get door-ed, I was getting 15L/100km around town, it had very sloppy dynamics and wasn’t at all versatile from a design perspective. In the last fortnight I did a ‘treasonous’ thing in trading it on a new Thai-built 2013 Ford Fiesta – it’s fun, frugal and practical. But am keeping the VB for the long haul, I see it now as an artefact from when Australia was an industrialised nation, a time it appears is drawing to a close.
Anyway, thank you Holden for 65 great years in Australia. Your product has left a mark on the lives of thousands if not millions of Australians.