Monday, January 6, 2014

Editorial: We should all shed a tear for the impending demise of Holden as we know it

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Recently, we found out that Holden, that quirky car maker from Down Under, would be ceasing its manufacturing operations in 2017 and have its vehicle lines replaced with re-badged Buicks that will likely be manufactured in China. This is sad news for the motoring world as Holden, even throughout its ownership by the folks at GM, has always been a bastion for rear wheel drive and big push-rod V8 motors. The Holden brand has been synonymous with fast cars even for American car enthusiasts since the final generation of the Pontiac GTO, the ill-fated Pontiac G8, and the current Chevrolet SS are all vehicles derived from vehicles that were a part of the Holden line-up. Of particular interest were the cars of the Holden Special Vehicles group, an in-house tuning arm that took the already relatively powerful cars and cranked up the engines, suspensions, and appearance to 11.

For our friends down in Australia, this is a particularly deep blow as Ford has already announced earlier this year that it would be eliminating the Ford Falcon from its line-up and would no longer be replacing that car with another rear wheel drive sedan. The fabled Falcon vs. Commodore rivalry seems doomed to an early demise as the V8 Supercars racing series will be losing these two major competitors, even as it gains the likes of Mercedes Benz and Nissan.

So as this means another blow struck for V8-powered RWD 4-door sport sedans, we slowly see the segment shrink to a very few competitors. In fact, once Holden passes into the annals of history, only BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Cadillac are left producing cars in this category and even the long-term existence of those cars may be called into question as a result of ever increasingly strict emissions standards, a greater emphasis on fuel economy from consumers, and the steadily advancing march of AWD technology.

As enthusiasts, we should take a moment to salute the demise of a storied brand's true identity and hope that we can all be forgiven for allowing such a travesty to pass. That said, it is a damn good thing that forced induction has made for some increasingly fun and dynamically intriguing performance cars in the last few years.