FORGOTTEN HEROES?

UNIQUE CARS Winner LETTER OF THE MONTH

Carl L Kelsen Vic

I HAVE JUST finished reading and enjoying your issue 406 (October 2017) edition of Unique Cars, but not surprisingly and perhaps regrettably, your report on General Motors-Holdens (GMH) October 2017 closing, centres only on one car, that car being the garden variety GMH manufactured Holden. Like GMH themselves, and many others you choose to totally ignore the full range of models that GMH offered Australian buyers from 1949 to 1970.

Because of this I feel the pressing need to write and express my concern so the full story and real ‘historical’ loss of General Motors Holden’s maunfacturing and local assembly of passenger cars in Australia is fully recorded. I say the real historical loss because despite what our media might want to report, the loss is not in anyway centred around just the Holden as a car. Holden may be important to many but its failing Australian market share indicates it’s dying a speedy if not certain death in Australia.

General Motors-Holdens (GMH) has always done its absolute upmost to eliminate totally from its memory and or historical records, that from 1949 until 1970 GMH not only manufactured Holden vehicles, but also asssembled (with considerable Australian made content) Pontiac, Chevrolet, Vauxhall cars and Bedford trucks.

In fact, it was not until the release of the 1962 Holden ‘EJ’ Premier sedan, that Holden actually offered anything more than very basic vehicles.

Prior to the 1962 Premier, all Holdens had simple vinyl upholstery, rubber floor coverings, a very dated ‘grey’ motor. They were simple cheap vehicles that the average working class Australian could buy relatively cheaply. In that regard they succeeded, but there was nothing outstanding about these early Holdens.

The historical fact is that Holden during most of the 1950s and 1960s was very much the Australian working class car of the GMH range. GMH offered the Vauxhall Velox and Cresta models to Australian upper middle class buyers as well as Chevrolet Bel Airs / Impalas and Pontiac Laurentian / Parisiennes to wealthy Australian buyers.

The Holden, as a car has only existed for 69 years, by most standards Holden has to be seen as a new entry into worldwide automobile brands. Added to this GMH has

only sold Holden exclusively for just on 47 years!

Prior to November 1949 GMH did not offer a car called the Holden. However GMH did, prior to 1949 manufacture Cadillac, La Salle, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Chevrolet, Vauxhall and Bedford.

Until at least the mid 1970s Australia did not have ‘Holden’ dealers, we had ‘GMH’ dealers and those GMH dealers prior to 1970 could sell their customers a new Pontiac, Chevrolet, Vauxhall, Beford or a basic entry-level Holden.

Your “Farewell TImeline” should have included at least the following: 1949: GMH commemce Australian assembly of ‘CKD’ Chevrolet / Pontiac. 1970: GMH final Australian assembled ‘CKD’ Chevrolet / Pontiac passenger cars Mid 1970s: GMH downsizes its product range to just Holden.

It could be argued that the GMH departure from Australian manufacturing started in 1970 as by this time GMH had stopped Australian assembly of Pontiac, Chevrolet, Vauxhall and Beford. GMH had effectively downsized to one brand being Holden.

From a worldwide prospective, the Holden name has a very small and reducing market influence. Eventually GM needs to retire the Holden Brand in the same way that GM has already retired Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and has sold Opel and Vauxhall. A future worldwide GM needs to focus on its bookend brands of Cadillac and Chevrolet. This is a well regarded view.

With the recent anouncement that Holden Special Vehicles will import Chevrolet Camaros in 2018, the fact that these Chevrolet Camaros will be sold through GMH dealers and the likelihood that Cadillac will return to Australia, it’s not difficult to see that Australian GMH dealers will again be offering a wider GM range consisting of Cadillac, for the Australian premium market and Chevrolet for the mass market.

Equally it’s difficult to see where the Holden Brand could fit in but perhaps Holden could become the entry level cars as they were back in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Regards

ED:

“I JUST CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE DON’T DRIVE THEM”