In early 2020, the Australian iconic motor company collapsed. Its demise was slow and painful but not unforeseen. As they hit the plants in 2017 and halted manufacturing new cars, an end was seemingly near. This was inevitable as Australia proved to be the most expensive place to produce cars globally. The Australian icon was unable to keep up with the economies of scale and the global competition. Holden may have shut its doors, but it will provide Holden parts and services for up to 10 years through their service network. Holden may have shut down, but the dealerships will look after Holden parts, services, and guarantees.
Built for the Australian Landscape.
Holden cars were built for the Australian dream and rugged landscapes. The first cars that launched were quickly drawn to the conclusion that they belonged to the city roads. But even before the vehicles proved their mettle on city roads, the conversation turned to how useful they would be once the city road ended and the backcountry road began.
In the coming years, ‘overlanders’ dominated the roads; people drove their overlanders on the road and off-road alike. Holden built their cars to fulfill this need, to go beyond the road. These Overlanding pioneers opened a vast blank space for the people to put on the map during the Second World War.
The practical value of cars created a car culture with an emphasis on patriotism. More than leisure, comfort, luxury, and consumption, early Australian cars extracted a sense of patriotism among many. Cars and Australia emerged simultaneously, leading to an affinity between cars and the development of the nation.
A mobile symbol of the masculine citizenry.
Post the second world war; a hugely popular decision to fund an all-Australian car helped Holden capture half of the market. Holden produced all the Holden parts it needed and everything within the nation. However, the great enthusiasm for Holden back in 1950 was only remotely related to the vehicle’s utilitarian value. The whole utility story deflected from the less rational and emotional values that gave cars immense power in our lives.
This item’s utility was instead saturated with meanings beyond its metal, nut-bolts, and its functions. As more and more Holden commercials showed women driving their beautiful vehicles, portraying these vehicles as family cars, they were still predominantly in the hands of men. Holden proved to be a prized commodity that changed the ideas of Australian masculinity. For the first time, men were defined through what they consumed and how in the era of national prosperity.
An exciting mode of consumption
Unlike household consumption established as domestic and frivolous, car consumption was looked at as an exciting consumption. The consumption of Holden cars translated to more exciting things like taming the tarmac, exploring the country, mastering machinery, and acquiring skills and knowledge.
Holden cars were at the root and heart of these changes. Holden built new and proud expressions of Australian masculinity that cut across class differences.
Throughout the baby-boomer era, visions of men drifting in dirt tracks, finding happiness driving cross country, or taking their family to the beach seemed to define the Australian dream and birthright.
The end of the Holden era
The later generations had a mundane experience of cars as compared to the previous generations. Cars now are just seen as objects to transport from point A to point B. Holden’s marketing in modern times rarely invoked national sensibilities that it did in the golden days.
With the end of an era, Holden has promised not to leave the existing customers high and dry and assured availability of all Holden parts and service. Authorized dealerships will provide Holden parts and services.