Sometimes we forget that Holden is a lot more than just cars – there’s a significant social history as well.
Mark Austin is a great example. His family connection to the brand goes back decades. His father, a former stockman, joined the Dandenong assembly line eons ago and stayed for 34 years, eventually becoming Line Foreman.
This gave Mark and his siblings remarkable access – these were very different times – and he recalls several visits to the factory when he was very young.
“Dad would take me and my brothers through the factory and see how cars are made. We’d be there all day, walking through the plant – I was probably about five, so they would have been building the VB Commodore. It was an eye-opener, seeing something that was a bit of steel turning into a car that drives off the assembly line.
“Dad would bring home cars for a test drive, so I’d be at the front door waiting for him to arrive and he’d take us for a spin around the block. His favourite was probably the VC.
“I remember my brother and I meeting Peter Brock and John Harvey, when I was six. We were proudly wearing our Bathurst T-shirts.”
Mark is President and co-founder of the SS Club, and has been involved for around five years. “It’s dedicated all the SSs,” he says, “from HQ through to VF. We’ve got 3500 members Australia-wide and close to 1200 in Victoria. We do an annual cruise to Lorne and get 120 or so SSs cruising down the Great Ocean Road. It’s an awesome sight.”
His own car is 1995 VS SS. “It doesn’t come out much – maybe five or six times a year. It’s a project car.” His wife Joanne drives a 2009 VE SS-V.
So how does he view the end of local manufacturing? “It’s quite sad. Making cars is an iconic thing in Australia. To me the Holden name will always live on. They’re built with passion.” (For the club, see Facebook.com/SSOwnersClub)