LOCAL Holden fans might still have their “football, meat pies and kangaroos” but the stuffing’s been knocked out of their iconic Australiana jingle with news Holden is set to close its Australian manufacturing operations in 2017.
With news the brakes have been well and truly put on the historic national carmaker, Holden lovers across the north were left lamenting what’s down the track.
Tamworth Holden buffs Matt Halpin and Bert Caulfield were among those left in the slow lane by the news.
General Motors Holden confirmed it would discontinue vehicle and engine manufacturing by the end of 2017 and significantly reduce engineering operations in Australia, ending days of growing speculation about its future.
Tamworth Sporting Car Club president Matt Halpin has been an unabashed fan of Holdens since he bought his first LJ Torana at age 17.
“I think it’s absolutely devastating, both for the economy and hardcore fans,” Mr Halpin said.
“It’s been one of our great national icons over the years and it really is a tragic day.
“I don’t think the quality of Holdens is slipping, it’s more the quality of imported cars is getting much better.”
Tamworth Classic Holden Club president Bert Caulfield said he was “sorry to see it happen” but understood the government could not keep “propping them up”.
“I don’t like to see an Australian icon such as Holden, as we know it, disappear from Australia into foreign hands,” Mr Caulfield said.
“It’s been on the Australian landscape for many years.”
The 69-year-old purchased his first Holden, a 1951 215 (commonly known as an FX Holden) at the age of 18 and hasn’t looked back since.
“I’ve had Holdens pretty much all my life,” Mr Caulfield said.
“As I was growing up I was taught that it was important to help the industry, to buy local.
“If you buy things like that when you’re young and they’re reliable products, well it’s just what you stick to.”
Scott Kensell of Kensell Holden said the decision would not affect dealers whatsoever but admitted it was a “sad day for Australian manufacturing”.
Government ministers, led by Treasurer Joe Hockey and Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss, indicated that Holden’s decision was inevitable and known for some time.
They cited high wages, the relentlessly high Australian dollar and difficult economic circumstances, as reasons for Holden’s departure.