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Thursday, March 4, 2021

‘Saved from obscurity’: last Australian-made Holden for sale

The finished product, with fitting number plates. Image supplied by Lloyds Auctions.

Bidding for the last Holden framed, stamped and painted in Australia started at $1 this week, and Lloyds Auctions COO Lee Hames says it will likely finish at a healthy six-figure sum tomorrow, 30 January.

“The interest in this car has been phenomenal, we have had enquiry from collectors, investors and Holden enthusiasts from all over the country, phones are ringing off the hook night and day,” he says.

Built on the eve of the Holden factory closure in October 2017, the last hurrah is a Holden VF Series II SSV Redline, which is now for sale with just 102km on the odometer.

According to Lloyds Auctions, the current owner worked at Holden for over 14 years and played a role in the manufacture of the car once its body reached the South Australian paint shop.

“Through a chance discussion on the last day of Holden’s manufacturing the owner was made aware that this car had been allocated to a dealer but had not been sold to the public,” the listing says.

“Armed with this information, he made it his goal to find the dealer and buy the car to save it from obscurity and it being sold to an unsuspecting customer.”

The production of the last Australian-made Holden was carefully documented. Image supplied by Lloyds Auctions.

Lloyds Auctions says the car ended up with a Victorian dealer interstate and the current owner, and former Holden employee, bought it ‘unseen’.

“So a blind deal was done on both sides, however with one small obstacle: Sale was “subject to wife’s approval” as shown on the contract.”

The listing goes on to explain the dealership in Victoria was “unaware of what they had and the car’s significance”.

Since the end of onshore operations, the nostalgia and value attached to Holdens has rapidly increased.

The auction listing says pictures of workers standing next to the car in the body shop – holding a sign to commemorate the moment the last Holden was built – are “a tribute to the importance of this car”.

“Not everyone can boast to have the last of anything but this car is like owning the holy grail of car manufacturing in Australia,” the listing says.

The demise of an iconic Australian car manufacturer

the body of the last australian-made Holden suspended in the workshop.
The body of the 2017 Holden VF Series II SSV Redline during manufacture. Image supplied by Lloyds Auctions.

At its inception in 1856 – many years before it became known for building trusty utes – Holden was a South Australian saddlery manufacturer.

From there, the business progressed through various iterations, from automobile upholstery repairs in 1908 to motor body builders in 1919.

In 1931, Detroit manufacturing giant General Motors acquired Holden, which allowed the multinational manufacturer to adopt an Australian identity for the market down under.

Holden went from strength to strength until the turn of the millenium, when a strong Australian dollar and decreasing government support dimmed its future.

In 2013, Holden announced it would cease on-shore vehicle and engine production by 2017, and just three years later in 2020, General Motors declared the Holden brand would be retired by 2021.

At the time, a General Motors spokesperson said Holden had been a “powerful driver of the industrialisation and advancement of Australia and New Zealand” over its “proud 160-year history”.

Ian Cubitt's
Ian Cubitt's