Written on the 25 October 2017 by David Simmons


The final car ever to be manufactured in Australia rolled off the factory line at the GM Holden plant in South Australiah last week.

The Elizabeth-based factory closed its doors for the final time, marking the historical end to Australia's rich history of automotive manufacturing.

As the doors shut on Adelaide's GM Holden facility, an exhibition was unveiled to pay tribute to the great Australian car. 

Holden in South Australia, together with the History Trust of South Australia, foresaw the significance of the closure of Adelaide and Australia's last remaining automotive manufacturing facility, and the result is [Re]Assembled; an exhibition at the National Motor Museum in Birdwood just minutes up the road from the now-closed Holden plant in Elizabeth.

When launching the exhibition, Greg Mackie, CEO of the History Trust of South Australia, says the state had an obligation to memorialise the manufacturing sector.

"We have a role, and take great pride in making sure the story of our automotive manufacturing sector is added to our permanent exhibitions here at the National Motor Museum," says Mackie.

"We do this not because the journey of industry is valid in its own right, although it is, but we do it because that journey has had such a profound effect on the lives of generations of South Australians."

"This exhibition enriches the history of our state."

The exhibition, which launched in late September, fittingly coincided with the Bay to Birdwood which is one of the world's largest and most historic classic and vintage car events. Many classic Holden vehicles were on display on the day, showcasing the variety and scope of Adelaide-made vehicles that are beloved by their owners to this day.

[Re]Assembled involves a re-assembled production line like one would see if they stepped into the Holden factory. As exhibition-goers follow along from the first car to the last you can get an understanding of how these cars were built by Australian workers. The final car on the 'production line' is a complete Holden car, with the signatures of every single Holden worker from around Australia scribbled on the exterior.

Paul Rees, the director of the National Motor Museum, says the museum has a duty of care to document the history of Australia's automotive history.

"It's our duty to document these sorts of things while they are happening," says Rees.

"In 50 years' time, someone might say "well good on you for thinking about that!".

Speaking at the launch, Graham Prendergast from GM Holden Elizabeth, says the employees at the plant couldn't wait to be involved in the historical project.

"As the project progressed through the year, more and more people inside the plant became aware of what we were doing and the enthusiasm was just amazing," says Prendergast.

"There was a wave of enthusiasm in the plant and people were fighting to be part of this."

Executive director of manufacturing at Holden, Richard Phillips, says the memorial to the industry at Birdwood is fitting legacy.

"Of course, all the manufacturing occurs just down the hill at Elizabeth, so I think it's fitting that the tribute to Australian car makers lives on here in the Adelaide Hills," says Phillips.

"We're proud to help tell these stories, and to give Holden people a chance to show future generations of their families what it was like to build cars in this country."

[Re]Assembled is open now at the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, South Australia.

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Business News Australia

Author: David Simmons





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