The last Holden: Australia's final locally made car rolls off production line

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Australia's last locally made car rolled off the production line on Friday. The final Holden to be fully manufactured here was a red VFII SSV Redline Commodore sedan.

For the first time, Australia will no longer build its own cars. But development and engineering divisions are expected to remain. Over 800 people were retrenched from Holden’s Elizabeth plant since the closure was declared. The other 950 formally finishes up.

Based on company figures, 83 percent of those who have left Holden have “successfully transitioned” into other opportunities. Some of them, 9 percent, are still looking for a job.

National secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Paul Bastian has commented about what was happening in the auto sector, saying it was a decision of the government to dare them to leave. “It was a disgraceful performance by a government, I’ve never seen anything like it before and I hope I never see anything like it again,” he said, according to Guardian Australia.

Holden started off as a saddle-maker in Adelaide. Then it embraced the arrival of motorbikes and cars by supplying upholstery and vehicle bodies.

The Australian government backed the company after the World War Two. During that time, it wanted to give the country some global status and wanted to launch domestic car manufacturing.

Nineteen forty-eight was the birth year of the first Holden 48-215. That was when the public's love affair with "Australia's own car” started, and it blossomed.

Fischer from Gosford Classic Car Museum said it was what he grew up with and what he knows. He showed BBC his collection of vintage Holdens. "I came home from hospital in a Holden car, my dad had one, my grandfather had one and so on, so you know – it is just a natural progression,” he said.

The last Holden is being seen as the end of an era after recent exits by Ford and Toyota. Toyota has previously rolled its last car off the line in Geelong.

Ford, on the other hand, closed its manufacturing plants at Geelong and Broadmeadows last year. Mitsubishi closed its plant in Adelaide’s southern suburbs in 2008.

The closure impacted employment in Australia, with a 2006 study indicating that the closure of Mitsubishi manufacturing plant found that 25 percent of those retrenched in the first wave of redundancies remained unemployed. Eleven percent was self employed, 7 percent had retired and 31 percent were in full time work.

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