Today the last Holden Commodore rolled off the assembly line in South Australia. It’s a somber day for automotive enthusiasts and an entire Nation. The company has been churning out Holden products for 69 years in Australia; a legacy halted by the globalization and commoditization of the automobile. With the end of Australian automobile manufacturing, so too ends the affordable rear-wheel-drive V-8 sedan from General Motors.
This day has been in the works for several years. GM announced the closure of the St. Elizabeth plant years in advance; a move undoubtedly to the workers’ logistical benefit in terms of finding new employment, but also a prolonged agony of knowing corporate is killing the dream. Many factors led GM to this decision, including unfavorable exchange rates and an extremely small domestic market.
It’s befitting that the last car to roll off the Holden assembly line today was a red Commodore V-8 sedan. That car is emblematic of the Holden brand and the large dent it has left in the GM world.
America is no stranger to the Commodore. The rear-wheel-drive sedan first arrived in America as the Pontiac G8 sedan back in 2008. In an era in which most domestic GM products in the U.S. were lackluster, the G8 was a breath of fresh air and reignited enthusiasts who were beat down by the cancellation of a host of rear-wheel-drive products under the “Zeta” program. The G8 was sort of a consolation prize for enthusiasts.
One such enthusiast who seized on the Commodore consolation was myself. At age 19, I purchased a 2009.5 G8 GT on June 1, 2009. For the history aficionados, that’s the day General Motors went into chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The G8 was the first brand-new car I had ever purchased. I still vividly remember the entire process. Production of the car was already slowing down and, being the picky ass I am, I was assertive in that I only wanted a 2009.5 GT (indicated by a “3” in the VIN). So I made the dealership painstakingly look for a fully-loaded black GT with a specific VIN. Yes, I’m *that* guy.
From day one, I loved that car deeply. It was my wingman through nearly all of my undergrad career; attracting more attention on campus than the heavily-modded Evos and generation-old luxury cars. Hell, I even drove that car to school in winter with its summer-only Potenzas; young and dumb.
It wasn’t a super-fast car, but it was quick with its truck-derived L76 6.0-liter V-8. I loved the fact it was a big-ass sedan with a backseat that could double as a sofa. I also loved its quirky navigation-display-but-not-really-navigation radio screen, which could not have USB connectivity because the system wasn’t engineered with enough inputs for entertainment-crazed Americans.
Then I graduated, deciding that passing undergrad yielded the reward of a new car. So, I ordered a Cadillac ATS, trading off the beloved G8 for nearly the same price I paid for it brand new three years and 35,000 miles prior. What a mistake that was.
The G8 literally went to the shop one time during my three years. For anyone who knows me, well, you know my ATS was largely a piece of junk.
Today may be marking the end of a legacy; the end of the Australian V-8 sedan. But it’s also ending the last affordable rear-wheel-drive sedan in the global GM lineup (Cadillac doesn’t count), which is certainly a sign of the times for we enthusiasts. More importantly, it’s changing careers and lives for many at Holden.
However, we have memories. With that, I say thank you to the folks at Holden for the memories. This boy from Kansas adored his Commodore; I wish I still had it today.