Unique Cars - - CONTENTS - Guy ‘Guido’ Allen GUY ALLEN

AT THE mo­ment I’m swinging be­tween shrug­ging the shoul­ders and just saun­ter­ing off into the mid­dle dis­tance, or driv­ing up to Can­berra to have a se­ri­ous full vol­ume rant at the first (prefer­ably ever y) se­nior min­is­ter I can find. For cr ying out bloody loud, we’ve screwed up here.

Lo­cal vol­ume man­u­fac­ture of cars has come to an end. Ford went last year, Toy­ota has just gone and Holden pulls the pin on Oc­to­ber 20. Now I’ll has­ten to add I’m not an econ­o­mist, but I’d still rate this as one of the great (and there are sev­eral) blun­ders in re­cent lo­cal his­tor y.

Where do you start? How about los­ing an in­dus­try which re­quires a high de­gree of tech­ni­cal so­phis­ti­ca­tion to keep go­ing? With it goes de­mand for a whole raft of skill sets that are valu­able in other in­dus­tries and in their own right. Plus, we’re talk­ing of an in­dus­try that’s about to un­dergo fun­da­men­tal gen­er­a­tional tech­ni­cal change – in­clud­ing al­ter­na­tive sources of power and new guid­ance sys­tems – and we es­sen­tially will miss the en­tire boat on that one.

And here’s an irony: this is hap­pen­ing just as the prod­uct reaches a level that is up there with the best, dy­nam­i­cally and as a value-for-money propo­si­tion. Drive a cur­rent SS-V Red­line and you’ll quickly un­der­stand what I mean.

Those are my more or less sane rea­sons for be­ing up­set. But there is a strong vis­ceral as­pect as well – the fam­ily his­to­ries that are tied up with lo­cal car man­u­fac­tur­ing. Now by def­i­ni­tion you can’t lose a his­tor y, but you can end it. That’s prob­a­bly what’s an­noy­ing me more than any­thing else.

Cars are wo­ven into the fab­ric of our fam­ily lives and none more so than a lo­cal prod­uct. My fam­ily has owned the same Kingswood for 35 years and the next gen­er­a­tion (which has lit­er­ally grown up in it) has ver y firm plans to keep it. They’re al­ready talk­ing about what the ground rules are when a third gen­er­a­tion comes along and reaches driv­ing age!

For some, the con­nec­tion goes much fur­ther. Pic­tured is Mark Austin and his son at Holden’s Lang Lang prov­ing ground. You could have taken more or less the same photo 30 years ago, when Mark was a kid and at­tended the Holden Christ­mas pic­nic with his dad. You can read more about them in a separate stor y on page 112. Suf­fice it to say there are al­ready three gen­er­a­tions of this fam­ily with strong emo­tional ties to build­ing cars lo­cally.

The de­ci­sion to cease doesn’t be­long en­tirely to GM, as the is­sues are far broader and I have to say that suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have as­sisted this to hap­pen. Yes, I un­der­stand the in­ten­tions were good, and so too was much of the rea­son­ing, but it’s a dread­ful re­sult.

So I guess it’s time to roll out the stan­dard line we like to use when speak­ing at a funeral: we’re not here to mourn a loss, but to cel­e­brate a great life. And it has been great. It’s been 69 years of ad­ven­ture and fun with lo­cal cars, so that’s some­thing to be grate­ful for.

This is­sue we wrap up what has been a 10-month cov­er­age of Holden and its iconic prod­ucts. En­joy…

(Our heart­felt thanks to GMH for giv­ing ac­cess to Lang Lang. It not only meant a lot to us, but ever y par­tic­i­pant on the day.)

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