I should say a few things before I start. Firstly, I do like old Holdens. Secondly, I believe that at one time Holdens were probably the best cars you could buy in Australia. Thirdly, I've never personally owned a Holden. Fourthly, as a teenager I was a Ford man. Having said all that, let's try and get a feel for what happened here. I'm no expert, but even a cursory glance at changes in motoring over the last 50 years should help us understand.
1. Holden is not really an Australian company.I know people will want to lynch me for this, but what Holden provided for Australia was the same thing Ford Australia provided until quite recently. Hence the initials GMH. General Motors Holden. Since the days of the 48-215, Holden has been at the behest of the US GM giant and it's executive. I'll talk more about that later on, but this is a pretty salient point.
2. More than half the cars Holden sold over the years were not in fact Australian.So for my second lynching... what we knew as the FX-FJ was in fact a Canadian GM effort dolled up for the Aussie Market. Now admittedly, most of what we got in late 1950s through to the mid 1970s was Australian designed but after that almost everything came in from oversees in one way or another. The commodore and torana were german, the gemini also from opel with a Jap drivetrain. By the 1980s lots of things from suzuki swifts to toyota camrys got rebadged with Holden lions. The first V8 we got was from the US, as were automatic transmissions and the like. Aussie V8s were made but again, we're back to US and Euro engines even in the large cars. I'm not saying cars didn't get improved on or developed for Australian conditions, but much of it came from elsewhere.
3. Holden spent too much time on the "Big battle".This is V8 supercars (which btw is the death throws of the large car in Australia). So much attention placed on large saloons with V8s. Large saloons more and more Australians were not buying. Every time I looked at the cover of 'Wheels' magazine or similar, it had a falcon or commodore. Guess what Ford and Holden, you both lost the battle.
4. Holden has made a real hash of small-medium sized cars.I was born in 1973, the heart of the muscle car era. I don't remember a time in my life when Holden really did well with small to medium sized cars. The older I got, the worse it seemed to be. How is it, for instance, that the Torana was never available as a wagon? Or for that matter a hatch? Every other manufacturer at the time had a medium sized wagon, but not Holden. If you wanted a wagon, you had to buy a Kingswood. Let's not even discuss the Camira. Small cars were equally problematic. The Torana started small but outgrew that market. The Gemini was good, but not an Aussie car strictly. Lately, we ended up with Astras and Barinas. Some good, some not so good. The Astra was a good car, but Holden deleted the model. Opel started bringing them in themselves. Craziness. As a brand Holden never had a consistent reputation for small cars. As Australia was crippled by recessions, fuel crisies and a rubbish dollar, we bought more small to medium cars. The Japanese made the most of this. You can see where this is going.
This prototype never reached production. Why?