The Eye of the Fish

Leviathan
February 18, 2020

Holden’ on, Holden gone

I’m not sure how I feel about Holden leaving a sinking ship – with their announcement that they are leaving their brand behind. Its probably been a foregone conclusion since they stopped production of the Commodore back in 2017 – along with Ford stopping production of their big Falcons in Australia as well. I remember way back when, when the campaign cry was “V8 till ’98” as the worry back then was that Holden might stop making the mighty v8 engine and force those poor Aussie blokes to have to put up with a straight six or even worse: God forbid, a 4-pot Holden! the campaign worked so well that the V8 stayed on for another couple of decades – but now it really faces the chop for good. So today all those bad news days have come together at once for Holden lovers, with no cars at all.

I’ve never been enough of a bogan to buy into the Ford vs Holden wrangle – I’ve owned neither but have driven both over the years, and my dad had a four cylinder Commodore after he got rid of the six cylinder Falcon 500. At least I think it was – it was a long time ago, and I was too young to drive back then. I’ve never owned a v8 but has that made my life any less worthy? I dunno. But I know some people live and breathe the myths around Fords and Holdens – to be honest, both of those brands are simply great big old donkeys, with a fair bit of kick but not a whole lot of sophistication.

60mPa help me out here – I’m picking you’re an owner of one of these brands at some stage over the last 40 years? Which one do you prefer? I’m pretty sure you must be a car-driver as you live somewhere out in the wopwops… and I’m sure you don’t take the train in to work in your high-rise crane or breaking concrete or whatever you do in an awfully manly manner. The rest of our readers are mainly architects or people in an architectural role, at least I think they are (those that comment anyway), but I don’t know what they drive. If they’re fulfilling cliches, then they will either be driving Citroens, Saabs, or Alfa Romeos. Stuart Gardyne – what do you drive?

But I do find it sad that NZ and OZ cannot support a car industry at all – although really the days of petrol engines are long gone. We not only can’t have our own cars – we don’t even make our own bicycles any more either, and I’ve no idea if we ever even made motorbikes. Did we? Was the Trekka really our only NZ-made car? A cheap copy of a LandRover, with parts courtesy of Skoda I believe? Although it is lauded by some, it is honestly all a bit shame-faced naff really…. Massey University grads and alumni produced a sports car called the Hulme a decade ago, but I think it was a one-off – and of course we can claim Kiwi involvement in the McLaren, although you couldn’t really say it is a NZ supercar by any stretch of the imagination. But gorgeous and clever, of course.

What we should be designing and selling tom the world, of course, is an electric bike – either an e-bike or something like the new Harley Davidson LiveWire, which looks vaguely like an ordinary Hog, but sounds nothing like it. Will big bad bikers still want a bike if it doesn’t make the traditional fart and burble? Will Bicycle Junction sell the LiveWire alongside their other “electric bikes”? Or is a Hardly Davison not really the real deal? It’s interesting, but hardly beautiful.

What I really want is for someone to make a vehicle that is beautiful – and affordable. It could be a car, or a bike, or an electric motorbike, but I want to see something and ride something that was conceived of in passion by someone who truly loves design. This “Efijy” from a few years back is one such – just a concept car of course, but you can tell that the bones are based on something that was alive and beautiful.

Leviathan
18 - 02 - 20

And yes, before anyone asks, or feels like telling me off for “promoting” car culture, it is possible to both love cars and hate traffic. I know. I get the irony. But I’m a designer, right? I love good design, OK?

Andrew
18 - 02 - 20

I bought my first Commodore when I was eighteen – it was a four cylinder 1.9L on CNG! To say it was gutless was an understatement but it was my pride and joy for many years until it got stolen from the street in Northland and found stripped on the Kapiti Coast later that day.
Since then I’ve owned a couple more Commodores, a Calais (which is a higher spec Commodore), a Calais-V (which is a higher speck Calais) and my current car which is a Calis-V series II (the car designed and built fully in Australia). I’ve also had a Falcon and a couple of Fairlanes. The later Commodores and Calais are as highly spec’d as any comparable Euro or Japanese car – lovely to drive, reliable and with all of the bells and whistles of the day. The Fords were just that little bit more agricultural, even the highest spec Fairlanes, but did tend to have a bit more raw get up and go (all of the later cars I had were straight sixes – never got a V8) but I put that down to them being maybe a bit lighter and maybe a bit rougher so they feel like they’re going a bit harder. All in all I’m sad this will be my last Holden, not actually because they’re no longer made (all of mine have been 2nd hand) but because I no longer have 3 teenagers to cart around town at home.

starkive
18 - 02 - 20

I got this one…

Kiwi car (nearly)? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anziel_Nova

Electric bike? http://www.ubcobikes.com

Kumara Republic
18 - 02 - 20

My dad once drove an early 1980s VH Commodore company car years back, and later on a late 1980s VN Commodore. There was a marked difference in size between the 2.

starkive
19 - 02 - 20

I seem to have fallen foul of the “two links and you’re out” moderation policy. So here they are, one link at a time:

https://www.themotorhood.com/themotorhood/2019/8/21/homegrown-kiwi-car-near-misses-the-anziel-nova-and-marlborough-carlton

starkive
19 - 02 - 20

and

https://www.ubcobikes.com

Alan
19 - 02 - 20

Its all just badge engineering – there hasn’t really been any real design at Holden for decades. The Holden Commodore is just an Opel Kommodore under a different name, which is also much the same as the Vauxhall something and really, they are all just variations on a basic GM unit – i think it was possibly the Buick Regal ? What Holden did do well was the tweaking to make them perform better – as far as I understand, the Vauxhall is just seen as a big useless badly selling lump over in Blighty, and the Opel has never been seen as any sort of a rival for the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Levi
19 - 02 - 20

You’re not wrong about the badge engineering Alan – GM has been doing it for years. They’ve recently shelved a number of more unpopular badges though – like Oldsmobile (gone), Pontiac (gone), Buick (gone), and now Holden (gone). I remember back in the 80s when Holden NZ had to participate in the worst kind of this: taking a Vauxhall Astra (seen in Britain as a “hot hatch”) and rebadging it as a “Pontiac Le Mans” when in fact it was made by Daewoo in Korea…. I don’t think it fooled anybody. it was generally shit all round.

Do Daewoo even make cars any more? Or have they gone the way of stale kimchi as well?

Levi
19 - 02 - 20

Sorry Starky – was away from my computer overnight so i didn’t check the spam queue. Thanks for those two links though – i’ll go and check them out!

60 MPa
20 - 02 - 20

Yep, learnt to drive a car (had bike license years earlier) in my mates borrowed HQ ute powered by a 308 with fat tyres and manual steering
A pig of a thing in a cul-de-sac but driving a V8 is certainly nice in terms of being able to plant boot and get out of a bad situation
Back then it was ten bucks to town and back from Newlands so never cheap to run

I remember those Efijy concept drawings and loving the lines on them – I believe the name is a throwback to the early model FJs which had that 1950s rounded look ( movie note – The Cars That Ate Paris has a bunch of them marauding around a town in the outback)

Early Holdens (and plenty of UK cars) were heavy and underpowered with bad brakes and crap handling, it’s really the hotrodders and performance divisions that have made them come alive

I’m not sad at the end of the Holden banner – plus ca change and all that

I actually shuddered at the mention of Pontiac Le Mans earlier upthread

Speaking of cars I was drinking a Vandal -beer made by Boneface Brewing- and didn’t even realise that it was named after a famous hotrod
http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/shows/7246785/Timeless-rod-headlines-nostalgic-display

I drive a rough old Toyota ute as it happens but if get off my arse and get the hydropower turbine and battery setup happening here then I’d look at a secondhand Nissan Leaf – electric is the future

Seamonkey Madness
21 - 02 - 20

*Panhead Vandal ;-)

Kumara Republic
21 - 02 - 20

Daewoo is now officially GM Korea.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GM_Korea

60 MPa
21 - 02 - 20

Right you are SM – Panhead

name (required)
25 - 02 - 20

ha ha I’m a cliche of course.

I cycle to work but have owned many Citroens (including Chris Moller’s family DS Safari) as well as VWs.

And I drove a Trekka as teenager on an uncles farm – before putting it through a fence. :-(

stuart gardyne
25 - 02 - 20

ha ha I’m a cliche of course.

I cycle to work but have owned many Citroens (including Chris Moller’s family DS Safari) as well as VWs.

And I drove a Trekka as teenager on an uncles farm – before putting it through a fence. :-(