ZB Commodore revealed as Holden recalls its past

The next-generation Commodore has been unveiled today at a car event in Melbourne dedicated to high-end fare and past classics.


HE car that almost underpins Holden’s future has made its first fully public display alongside 23 of the brand’s heritage models.

The unveiling of a showroom-ready example of a ZB Commodore, which comes on sale in New Zealand next February, alongside such luminaries as the very first Holden, the 48-215 prototype, famous concepts – including the headline-making Efigy, Hurricane and Torana GTR-X – plus five past generations of Commodore came at a car enthusiast event in Melbourne today.

This is the first time the car has been shown undisguised in public – with the 3.6-litre all-wheel-drive VXR liftback taking honours over the alternate wagon.

It’s also the first time Holden has involved with Motorclassica, a three-day automania-themed display that pulls a huge crowd to view classic and collector cars (some of which are auctioned) plus new metal, and the timing is bittersweet.

Just days after it displays its future hope at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building it will close down the operation that made this nameplate what it is.

On October 20 the production line in Adelaide from which every previous Commodore has come down will fall silent forever. From thereon, Holden to Australia will become what it already is to Kiwis – a full import brand, with no homegrown product.

Some specialist assembly equipment from the 123 hectare Elizabeth compound will be kept by General Motors and rebirthed into other production lines around the globe. The factory and grounds – which include a cricket pitch - have already been sold to a developer. Intention is to turn it into one of Australia’s largest business hubs.

Meantime, the Motorclassica display is very much an example of allowing the product to speak for itself – company high-ups seemed to have steered clear and there was no formal media event. Holden New Zealand also confirmed none of its senior management planned to attend what to all intents is a pre-funeral wake.

Up to 24,000 visitors are expected to survey a display that has pristine examples of the VB, VN, VT, VE as well as the Opel-made ZB.

Holden said it decided to involve with Motorclassica because the event’s timing synchs neatly with milestones in the brand’s history, notably 2017 being the 100-year anniversary of Holden producing car bodies on a large scale.

Holden isn’t the headline act – nor is Mercedes, which brought this journalist across, even though it is one of Motorclassica’s principle partners and is using the show to tease the debut of the E-Class cabriolet, give an early look at the mid-life updates to the S-Class limo ahead of the flagship’s showroom debut in 2018 and to celebrate 50 years of AMG.

Topping the bill this year is Ferrari and its 70th birthday celebrations. The Italian supercar-maker brought together iconic cars throughout its history – from the classic 195 EL to the recently released LaFerarri Aperta.

In addition to distributor and manufacturer-supplied cars, the Ferrari’s Owner’s Club of Australia has organised for 70 of its vehicles to attend.

Other makers in attendance were Lamborghini, Jaguar, Porsche and Maserati.