Motorclassica’s celebration of Holden

The Holden brand has been one strongly associated with Motorclassica over the years, no more so than in 2017, when the Royal Exhibition Building played host to a celebration of 100 years since the first Holden bodied car was made on these shores.

The event also sadly marked the curtailing of local Holden manufacturing, with the final Commodore rolling off the production line in the same month as Motorclassica.

Leading the Tour Classica parade that year was perhaps one of the company’s most famed prototypes, the EFIJY, a tribute to the 1953 FJ model which debuted in 2005.

 Based loosely on an extended Chevrolet Corvette architecture, the custom piece of art won the award for the United States Concept Car of the year in 2007, and Hot Rod of the Year in 2006.

Further prototypes from the Holden’s history were displayed alongside the EFIJY, including the very car where the marque began – the first Australian-built pre-production version of the 48-215 from 1948, having previously changed hands for a then record price of $675,000. 


With the first three prototypes beginning life in North America, this fourth iteration was largely thanks to then GM-H Managing Director Sir Lawrence Hartnett, and Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley, who paved the way for the mass production of cars on these shores.

Also making an appearance was the Hurricane, a 1969 design that featured cutting edge technology such as digital instruments, climate control, auto tune radio, rear view camera, inertia-reel seatbelts, oil cooled disc brakes, tilt steering column, adjustable pedals, as well as “Pathfinder”, which utilised magnets built into the road to guide the driver in the pre-satellite navigation era, with the restored car first seen at Motorclassica in 2011.

The final prototype to make an appearance that year was the Torana GTR-X from 1970, featuring a swept wedge-shaped design and pop-up headlights, cloaking XU-1 running gear.
It was the very first Holden to feature four-wheel disc brakes, and unlike the Hurricane, it was a genuine contender to reach the production line, with the company’s marketing department going to the effort of creating promotional material that featured the model. While three initial prototypes were crafted, only the lone version survives to this day.

All told, the display featured 24 classics covering everything back to pre-General Motors Holden machinery, including the one-of-a-kind 1928 Buick boat tail speedster, whose fantastic story included lapping the famed high banked British Brooklands circuit at 138mph, while it was later to run moonshine across the New South Wales-Victoria border.

Upon its capture by local authorities in 1964, it was pushed into a creek, where it sat undisturbed for 20 years.

Also exhibited were all eight generations of the Commodore, including the public launch of the European sourced ZB, which has ultimately proven to be the final in the series.

Also on show were some of the finest machines from the Holden racing stables, with variants ranging from the GTS Monaro, to XU-1 and A9X Toranas, and the Commodore, with the machines commanded by luminaries such as Peter Brock, Allan Grice and Bill Brown, while stars including Colin Bond, John Harvey, Jim Richards and Peter Janson all attended the event in person.

Outside of the 2017 tribute to the marque, Holdens have over time made a real impression on the event. The 2018 edition saw Sam Santoro’s immaculate 1969 Holden HK Monaro GTS claim not only the Modern Classic GT USA & Australia award, but also the coveted People’s Choice accolade. While the Holden badge may be disappearing from new car showrooms, Motorclassica will forever have a home for this most iconic Australian marque.



Did you know?

Years Holden was in operation: 1856 - 2020


No. of Holden nameplates produced: 54, from Acadia to Zafira


Total no. of cars Holden manufactured in Australia since 1948: 7,687,675


Total no. of Commodores manufactured for Australia since 1978: 2,300,000


No. of Holden Dealerships: 204


Number of employees across seven manufacturing plants in four states: 1964 – 23,914


Rarest Commodore produced: VH SL/E T30, 30 examples produced


Most popular Commodore model – Qty sold: VT, 303,895


Most popular Holden vehicle - Qty sold: HQ Kingswood, 485,650

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