There was a time Holden had to discount its V8s to shift them off the showroom floor, now some are fetching close to or more than $1 million.
It’s amazing what scarcity does to the price of a car – and how we never truly value something until it’s gone.
Since US car giant General Motors announced the axing of the Holden brand on this day 12 months ago, enthusiasts have gone nuts paying top dollar for pristine examples of cars they once could only dream about.
Industry experts say the coronavirus crisis and subsequent international travel restrictions have helped push up the price of collectible Holdens and other cars.
Rather than spending money on overseas holidays, Australians are treating themselves tocars, caravans, boats, jet skis and kitchen renovations. And rare Holdens.
Earlier this month, a V8 Holden ute sold for $1.05 million – the highest recorded auction figure for an Australian road car – and a Holden Commodore with the last ever serial number went under the hammer for $750,000.
Auction listings show rare, late-model Holdens and HSVs keep on coming.
Craig Moore, a Sydney wholesaler, former car dealer, and a veteran of the trade is among those selling a low-kilometre HSV GTS-R sedan. His 2017 model – in slipstream blue with manual transmission – has just 880km on the clock.
“People are looking at what’s happened in the past with the Ford Falcon GTHO and people are confident these Holdens are never going to be made again, and one day they’re going to be worth lots of money,” said Mr Moore.
“When you take into account how many were used as daily drivers, or how many were crashed, the number of available cars keeps falling and the number of people wanting to buy at the moment keeps growing.”
The HSV GTS-R sedan cost about $110,000 plus on-roads when new, but low-kilometre examples are being advertised online for more than double that amount.
The next question: when will the bubble burst?
Rian Gaffy from Grays Online – who specialises in the auction house’s rare automotive finds – says high prices are here to stay until the novelty wears off. Or until a generation of buyers moves on.
“The surge in prices definitely has a lot to do with the COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions; people aren’t spending money on holidays,” said Mr Gaffy.
“The closure of Holden of course has also had a fairly strong impact on prices. And with Holden not being the face of motorsport any more, people are starting to realise there are no more Commodores and no more HSVs and they’ve decided to start collecting them.”
Mr Gaffy says the price rises won't ease any time soon. “I think it’s just getting stronger and stronger. People have reached an age where they’ve got an income to spend a bit of money on the cars they dreamed of or couldn’t afford when they were younger.”
Mr Gaffy said the value of cars from the 1940s and 1950s was starting to wane “because the people who really like those cars are getting too old.”
He said there was also strong growth in the prices of Japanese performance cars from the 1990s and early 2000s.
“The prices of some Subaru WRXs have doubled in the past 12 months. Iconic Japanese performance cars and Australian performance cars are really starting to increase in value,” said Mr Gaffy.
There is one final curiosity to all this: if Australians were prepared to pay this much for a V8 Commodore years ago, maybe the Holden factory wouldn’t have closed.
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