End of the road for Holden Commodore

Holden to sell only SUV and utes after next year.

While it formally signals the end of an Aussie icon, news that Holden is pulling the Commodore from its showrooms by the end of next year should not really surprise anyone.

‘Australia’s own family car’ has been driving down a slippery slope ever since buyers increasingly turned to medium/large SUVs to fulfil that role nearly 10 years ago. The decision to end local production in 2017 served to further hasten its demise.

How times have changed. For the lion’s share of its 41 years of production to date, the Commodore was Australia’s most popular car, topping the sales chart for 15 consecutive years from 1996 to the end of 2011. At its zenith, 1998, Holden sold more than 94,500 units; this year, it’s shaping up as a mere 6000.

At some stage, just about everyone owned a Commodore. Did you? I did, a VB model the same colour as the one depicted above. It was an October 1978 build, making it among the very first to roll off the Australian production line.

Bought in used condition around the time of the tragic Ash Wednesday bushfires (February 1982), the Commodore performed its design brief of family transport for five fairly well. Typical of cars for its time, though, the six-cylinder engine and (optional) three-speed auto combination liked a drink, and no air-conditioning meant windows down was the modus operandi.

Water pump failure was a common fault and, sure enough, halfway through a gruelling, mid-summer trek from Melbourne to Brisbane we rolled into Parkes, NSW, coming on sunset with an ominous knocking sound coming from under the bonnet. But, being a Holden, there was a local dealer who opened on a Saturday morning and, in seemingly no time at all, we were back on the road.

It remains the only Commodore – and the sole Holden - I’ve owned among a dozen different makes and models.