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No more Holden Commodore: Nameplate officially retired after 42 years

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Updated 4 Feb 2020

Rowan Johnstone

After 42 years as one of Australia’s favourite 4-door sedans, Holden has officially announced that the Commodore nameplate, an iconic name in Australia’s motoring history, will no longer populate new car showrooms by the end of 2020.

The current ZB Commodore, which is actually a rebadged Opel Insignia, is the first car to wear the Commodore badge that was designed and built outside of Australia.

The last Holden Commodore, the ZB. Photograph by sv1ambo, distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license.

The ZB is the successor to the last Aussie built Commodore, which stopped production in 2017.

However, by the end of 2020, they will no longer be importing these rebadged Insignias to masquerade around as Commodores, and the nameplate will officially be retired.

As a bloke who was born and raised flying the Ford flag, it’s a bitter-sweet moment to hear that in approximately 12 months time, there will be no such thing as a ‘new’ Commodore.

The sweetness is purely the result of the embedded Ford versus Holden rivalry which can be found boiling away in many Ford fans or followers around Australia.

In our eyes, the Commodore has finally followed the path that the mighty Falcon took three years ago, and it really doesn’t stem much further than that.

In the eyes of the diehard Holden fans, the Commodore nameplate probably did this when the last VF rolled off the production line in 2017, as they refused to accept this new European imposter with a Commodore badge as the rightful heir.

The last Aussie built Commodore, the VF. Photograph by Sicnag, distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license.

And I think that’s where the bitterness comes from for everyone, whether you were a Holden fan or not.

Everyone understood what the Commodore was and what it represented, especially thanks to their heavy involvement in Australian motorsport and their heavy presence on our roads.

Holdens attempt to change this image by replacing Australia’s iconic rear-wheel-drive, V6 or V8 powered hero car with a front-wheel-drive, 4 cylinder (Turbo V6 optional) hatchback, was risky business from the start, and customers ended up speaking with their wallets.

At the height of its showroom dominance in 1998, Holden sold over 94,000 Commodores in a year. Fast-forward to 2016 and there were still north of 25,000 new Commodores rolling off showroom floors in a much more competitive market.

Now, in 2019, they’re projecting that the total number of new Commodores sold will be around 6000.

The best-selling Commodore, the VT. Photograph by EurovisionNim, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

Yes, it is important to note that this isn’t purely because they reused the Commodore name on a car that simply isn’t a Commodore, and there is a magnitude of other factors contributing to these lowly numbers, such as Australia’s ever-growing love affair with SUVs and 4x4 utes.

Regardless, the ZB Commodore will go down in history as the last ever Holden Commodore, which, I believe, will be the reason that an otherwise perfectly fine car will forever be resented by both Holden fans and Aussie motoring enthusiasts alike.

Here at AutoGuru, we’ve helped thousands of Commodore owners better care for their cars by providing an easy way to access an awesome network of repairers.

And whilst it’s not like Commodores will begin to drop off the face of the earth, it will be a sad moment when we stop the ‘model year’ clock at 2020 for the Holden Commodore.

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Written By

Rowan Johnstone

On weekdays Rowan can be found in the AutoGuru office, driving content and growth with the rest of the marketing team.

On weekends you’ll probably find him in the garage with his father restoring a 1958 Ford Star Model Customline or enjoying a cruise through the Gold Coast hinterland on his Suzuki GSX-R600.

Despite his passion for being behind the wheel (or handlebars), he looks forward to the day when he can commute to work in his own driverless car.