My Experiences with Holden
On October 20th 2017, the last Holden left the assembly line. With it came the end of 69 years of the car brand’s Australian production history and the end of the Australian automotive industry. On that day, I travelled for the first time to the Holden plant in Elizabeth for a farewell event. A slight tear was in my eye as I approached the plant, seeing all the cars already lined up. It’s with this that I realise that this truly was the end.
Some of you might be asking why would I be talking about a car brand on my page. Well, Holden has been a massive part of my life, and has influenced me as both as a person and as a writer. I will be looking into why it’s special to me and how it’s influenced my writing career.
Right from when I was born, Holden was a part of my life. My parents owned a VH Commodore at the time I was born (1994), a fine car according to them. A few years later they upgraded to the much larger VN Commodore. That VN took me, my parents, and my baby sister across the Nullarbor Plain from my hometown of Adelaide to Perth for a holiday and back again with no problems. We later sold this car off around 2004, which began our brief no Holden period. My parents upgraded to a red VZ in 2009, which they continue to own to now. These family cars had made a major impact on me in a family sense as some of my best family memories are all in these Holdens. I still have memories of driving across that endless stretch of the Nullarbor in that VN, playing with a toy computer and the music of Cream and The Traveling Wilburys playing.
There’s then my family’s history of Holden. Both my parents had a Holden as their first car: my Dad had a Kingswood, and my Mum a Sunbird. When I was younger my Poppa also had a blue early model Commodore, which I still have many memories of. I remember how everything squeaked, the glass plates full of toast crumbs on the floor, and the conversations me and him had about planes and trains.
For me, my parent’s VZ was the first car I learnt to drive in when I got my Learners. Right from the moment I knew I wanted to own a Holden, which came true. My first car was a 1990 JK Apollo (a rebadged Toyota Camry). This car was everything to me in my late teens and early 20s. I took pride in it, even displaying it at a Holden show or two over the years. In 2015, I finally had enough money to buy my first “true” Holden: a VE Commodore. It was sad to say goodbye to my old Apollo, but at the same time I was happy to finally be a Commodore owner. I still own this car and continue to take pride in it. I do someday though intend to upgrade to a VF (the last Aussie built model), but that can wait a few more years.
It’s from all these personal experiences that it’s only natural that Holden has seeped into my writing. I’ve written many stories over the years where a Holden car of some sort has appeared. One of my Speakeasy Zine stories, ‘The Lion Roars’, features a possessed HK Monaro as the central antagonist. The first novel I ever wrote contained an FE Holden which was used as a connection between the real world and another dimension. Holden’s prevalence has even seeped into ‘Under the Southern Cross’, my current WIP novel. My main character, Ash, is a worker in a car factory which was inspired by the now defunct Elizabeth plant. I also make mention of classic Holdens, like the FJ and FB (my favourite classic Holden models) as symbols of freedom.
Holden has always been a central part to my life dreams. I imagine myself driving down the road in a classic Holden (mainly FB or FJ) listening to 50s/60s music and the sun shining. It’s a very farfetched dream I know, but it’s still one of my more normal ones. My other great dream is driving a Holden in an unusual part of the world. I would love drive a Holden, both classic and modern, through places like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan to name a few places. It sounds crazy I know, but it would make for some very interesting stories to tell, and would certainly turn heads.
Finding Holden in fiction works apart from my own is exciting to me. Some of my favourite Australian stories and films feature a Holden in some way shape or form. Some of my favourite classic Holden models appear in films like The Cars That Ate Paris (1974), while modern films like Wolf Creek (2005) feature more recent models. Once again in literature, some of my favourite Australian stories have Holden featured in them too. The first Wolf Creek prequel novel (Origin) features Holden in it, which combined with the character of Mick Taylor portrays them in that dark way, which I like. As for short stories, an LJ Torana features in the titular story from Jason Fischer’s Everything is a Graveyard short story collection. Having the Torana in that story gave a unique homely feel to an already frighteningly good tale.
Holden has played an important part in my development as a person and as a writer. It’s an icon that helped build Australia to what we see today. Thank you for the memories and story ideas you have given me Holden. There’s still many more memories to be had, even if they’re no longer built here.
For those who are interested in learning more about Holden, below are some links to some articles and videos/documentaries that I believe are great sources to learn about this car brand.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-20/how-holden-changed-australia-forever/9011198 – an article about the impact Holden has made on Australia
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/holdens-outsized-role-in-australian-arts-and-funding/9042118 – an article about how Holden inspired artists and fund the arts
Part one of a two part TV special from 1986
A Four Corners episode dedicated to why Holden closed down and who would it affect