Holden’s priceless collection of up to 70 classic and historically significant cars – including the first and last vehicles it manufactured locally – will remain in Australia and not sent to Detroit, as some fans had feared.
While Holden is yet to announce exactly where the vehicles will be stored and if the public will be able to view them, CarAdvice has been told there are no plans to export the vehicles to join the global General Motors collection in Detroit.
A high-ranking Holden insider has told CarAdvice: “There is absolutely no plan to send the cars to Detroit. We will make arrangements to make sure the heritage collection is treated with the respect that reflects their historical significance.”
Holden has between 60 and 70 cars in its heritage collection, including the first and/or last examples of significant models.
Most of the collection is already behind closed doors at Holden’s Port Melbourne site, inside a building not far from where then Prime Minister Ben Chifley stood next to the first Holden in November 1948 and declared "she's a beauty" (pictured below).
Some cars from the heritage collection have been on loan to museums around the country for limited viewing periods. It is expected this arrangement will continue even after Holden closes its doors at the end of this year.
CarAdvice has learned an archivist from General Motors’ head office in Detroit is due to visit Holden in the coming weeks – a trip that was planned more than 12 months ago, not triggered by the Holden shutdown.
However, the archivist’s visit is not to run a stocktake of the heritage car collection (which includes the last Holden made in Australia, pictured below) but rather to arrange for digital copies of Holden’s vast historical documents so they can be preserved forever.
Furthermore, CarAdvice has learned, an Australian law that protects articles of historical significance would likely prevent General Motors from ever removing the Holden heritage collection from Australia.
The Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act (PMCH) of 1986, which covers aboriginal artefacts, war medals and other significant articles is designed to “protect national and international movable cultural heritage, regulate exports and imports, and help museums, galleries and libraries acquire important cultural material”.
The only way Holden’s private car collection would be allowed to be exported is if “a permit or certificate has been obtained” and the vehicle is eventually returned.
Permits are granted by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, on the advice of the National Cultural Heritage Committee and expert examine, the Act states.