Holden Dream Cruise farewells Aussie-built Holdens

Hundreds of classic Holdens cruise through Elizabeth in South Australia past the Holden factory


Only days out from the final Commodore rolling off of the production line, the GM Holden run Holden Dream Cruise saw thousands of Holden’s finest from across Australia descend on the Elizabeth City Centre. The cruise allowed owners as well as 25,000 emotional and enthusiastic fans to celebrate the red-lion’s Aussie manufactured builds.

Punters lined the streets as the cruise zig-zagged past the Holden factory, finishing on several ovals nearby. Colour coding kept eras together and allowed for super-smooth running of the event. On the main oval was the official show’n’shine featuring 100 Holden’s representing specific models, amongst a bevy of food vendors and a main stage where special guests such as Mark Skaife regaled stories of Holden’s past.

The Holden Dream Cruise not only offered a place for fans to meet, it also had a serious side, raising a total of $807,000 for charity. $307,000 of this was from the live auction of three iconic, limited edition Commodores; Director #5, Motorsport #5 and Magnum #111. With the Director selling for $130,000, half of those proceeds went directly to The Lighthouse Foundation, a charity supporting the homeless represented by Beverly Brock. A further $742,000 went to the Smith Family of which $500,000 went towards to The Smith Family’s Learning for Life sponsorship program from GM Holden.

With the last day of Holden manufacturing, in fact any Aussie vehicle manufacturing, occurring this Friday will see another gathering of proud Holden bidding an emotional farewell to Holden Australia.

For Jodie Garner, Holden’s are part of her daily life, “Ever since I can remember, Holden’s have been in my family and in my blood. Each year on my birthday I would sit down with my Dad to watch Peter Brock take on the Fords at Bathurst. Brocky was such a big influence that we named our son Brock. My first car was an LC Torana, after I learnt to drive in Dad’s hotted up 186ci powered EH. It’s fair to say we are a true Holden family.” Jodie’s pictured with husband Michael (SM Nov ‘14) and kids Bella and Brock, beside her beloved LC Torana (SM July ‘12).

David Smith’s ’54 FJ pano sports a 179ci with a Supra 5 speed gear box and HR front end. The 10 year to build started with a rusted-out wreck, yet after all of that work it rarely leaves the shed. “But when we saw that the event was happening there was no way we were going to miss it,” says Dave’s wife Colleen. “It’s a tragedy that we won’t be building cars in this country anymore. Today is great though, so many Holden’s have come out of the woodwork yet the volunteers have it well and truly under control. They should make it a regular event!”

For so many, this is also a good-bye to employment which may have spanned several generations in the same family. Blake Evans (SM Sept 16) says, “My father, grandfather and great grandfather all worked at Holden from Woodville then when they moved Elizabeth 55 years ago. To see so many quality cars of the one make all in one spot today is great. And my LC handled the cruise well – even though it’s a warm day it didn’t get hot at all!” Blake’s current pb is 9.94sec quarter at 133 mph.

Barry Gaghan’s merged two Holden’s create his ultimate ride. His FJ features an SS LS1, Tremec six-speed with Commodore suspension, brakes and rear end. Inside are VZ SS bucket seats, dash and console. Barry reckons there’s 3000 hours in the car at a total cost of $60,000.

As a local, it really moved me to see a range of interstate rides head across to take part in the celebration of Holden’s life and the closure of its last manufacturing plant.

Fans lined the street to wave at the lion-badged parade. We accidentally joined the cruise for a short period as we looked to park in our unkept VZ Commodore wagon, which saw us gain a few misguided waves. Yet being in the heart of the circus was quite emotional, bringing tears to my eyes.

HSVs were dotted throughout the event and given that the SV5000 is getting close to 30 years old, with a mere 291 in SV Racing Green, it’s fairly rare to see one in the flesh these days.

Flared goodness of the earliest HDT Special Vehicle – the VC Commodore – is a pride-worthy sight for any Holden fan. From NSW, this example travelled a fair distance to be part of the day.

Thanks to the live auction of a VF II Director #5, $65,000 was donated to The Lighthouse Foundation, a charity supporting the homeless and represented by Bev Brock.