Holden is a marque synonymous with Australian motorsport and, in particular, Australian touring cars.
Holden was on the grid for the first Australian Touring Car Championship race in 1960 and the first Great Race at the Mount Panorama Circuit in 1963. Since then, alongside great rival Ford, it has been a key pillar in Australian touring cars with iconic Toranas, Monaros and Commodores being driven by legends such as Peter Brock, Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes.
With the Holden brand retired and the name leaving Supercars at the end of 2022, we look back at its history in Australian touring cars, particularly in the Bathurst 500/1000, and what comes next for General Motors in SupercarXtra Magazine issue #126.
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From saddlery manufacturing in Adelaide in 1856, Holden grew into an Australian automotive giant. After moving into automotive manufacturing in the early 1900s, Holden became a subsidiary of the American General Motors (GM) brand in the 1930s. Along with Ford, it was a major player in the Australian automotive landscape, dominating the market for decades with local manufacturing at its core.
However, with the influx of overseas-based brands into the Australian market and local manufacturing becoming economically unfeasible in recent decades, the news of its demise wasn’t unexpected when announced in February 2020. Despite the expected confirmation, it was still felt acutely not only within Supercars but across Australia. After all, Holden has been part of the Australian automotive and motorsport fabric since its formative years.
When the Australian Touring Car Championship was born at Gnoo Blas in New South Wales in 1960, 23 of the 44 cars on the grid were Holdens, the majority being the 48-215 (FX). It set the tone for the future of the championship, with Holden not only a constant presence but often having the most cars on the grid. Six decades on, Holden still contributed more than half of the cars on the grid with 16 of the 24 entries in 2020.
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