The ‘last’ Holden Commodore has sold at auction today for a staggering $750,000 – as US giant General Motors clarifies the mystery behind two identical examples claiming to be the final Australian-made car.
The red Commodore V8 sedan sold by Lloyds Auctions today was the last serial number to be allocated to an Australian-made Holden – and the final vehicle to go through the Adelaide factory’s body assembly and paint shop.
After bidding started at $305,000 the hammer fell this afternoon at $750,000 after almost half an hour of offers received online and via the phone. The sale price is more than 10 times the car's $65,000 showroom cost in 2017.
The car sold today was originally bought by a Holden factory worker after he learned the final car to roll off the assembly line in a ceremony for workers and the media was in fact not the last serial number.
However, US giant General Motors says it owns the real last Australian-made car, an identical red Holden Commodore V8.
The vehicle retained by General Motors – currently on display in the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, about 50km north-east of Adelaide – was the last Holden Commodore to ceremoniously roll off the production line on the final day, 20 October 2017 (pictured below).
The red Holden Commodore V8 sold at auction today – and which was allocated the final serial number – was sent to a dealer in Melbourne to be sold as a regular customer car.
However, the Holden factory worker traced the vehicle and placed an order over the phone, requesting the delivery stickers and other protective covers be left on the car.
He had the vehicle trucked from Melbourne to Adelaide; it sold today with the number plates FINL-01 with just 102km on the odometer.
A media statement issued by General Motors overnight said: “The Commodore on loan to the National Motor Museum in South Australia was the last car that ran down the General Assembly line and is not for sale.”
General Motors said the Holden Commodore on display has the serial number ending in 333542, whereas the identical example sold at auction today has a serial number ending in 333644.
On the final day of production – 19 October 2017 – it is understood Holden built a handful of identical red Commodore V8s, any of which could have become the last car.
However, the one with the best panel fit and paint finish was selected as the last vehicle to roll off the line in front of the media and employees on 20 October 2017.
General Motors says the red Holden Commodore V8 it retained as the last car (pictured below) was “the last body to enter the General Assembly plant and go down the assembly line receiving all of its components via the standard production process”.
However, the car giant confirmed the red Holden Commodore V8 sold at auction today was “the last body to leave the bodyshop and enter/exit the paintshop – not to come off the general assembly line.”
A statement by General Motors said: “Therefore, and very importantly from a heritage perspective, the vehicle in the National Motor Museum in Birdwood SA (serial number ending in 333542) is absolutely the last Holden.”
Last year, the owner of the red Holden Commodore V8 sold at auction today, Alex Kyriakopoulos, told WhichCar magazine: “With my car the last to be framed up, last to be allocated a (serial number) and last through the paint shop – and the media car being the final vehicle to be completed and come off the line, both are the ‘Last Car’ in their own respects.”
He added: “Some would argue the media car holds that title, some would say it’s mine. All I know is that together, both cars are for the workers, Holden fans, car lovers and anyone interested in Australian automotive history.”
Which of the two red Commodores is the last of the 7,687,675 vehicles to be made locally by Holden is now a debate for the ages.