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Supercars: the Holden vs Ford war is over

By Tim Robson, 23 Mar 2020 Car Opinions

Supercars: the Holden v Ford war is over

When the Commodore bows out of Supercars at the end of 2021, it ends a parochial rivalry that crossed generations

You were blue, or you were red. There was no piking out – you backed Ford or you supported Holden, or you stayed the hell out of it.

The Bathurst 1000 race on the October long weekend was as sacred a day as Christmas or your birthday, and you only hoped your favourite – Brock, Moffat, Johnson, Grice, Perkins – came out on top for bragging rights at school the following Tuesday.

The Ford v Holden war in domestic touring car racing preceded Supercars and transcended the sport, making heroes of everyday men and superstars out of the cars they raced.

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Now, as the news sinks in that Holden is gone forever, that racing rivalry will truly be no more.

Read more: The day Holden canned the Commodore

And the Commodore was a success, notching 509 wins since the late Peter Brock drove a VB to victory in Tasmania in 1980.

As racing series go, Supercars – formerly V8 Supercars – is a unique formula. Originally, the rules were written specifically to enable only the Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon of the day to be eligible to race.

At the stroke of a pen, millions of dollars and decades of effort in other, non-local cars – Ford Sierras and Nissan GT-Rs, to name two – were swept aside in favour of a simpler, easier to digest, more promotable motorsport product.

And it worked – V8 Supercar racing, grounded in rivalries kept burning by fathers and mothers, sons, brothers and friends, went from strength to strength, building names like Mark Skaife, Craig Lowndes and others into household brands.

Image result for mark skaife bathurst

The cars morphed and changed, but the basic premise of an under-tyred, overpowered, rear-drive V8 monster remains to this day.

The game changed, however, when Ford announced in 2015 it would end production of the Falcon. The car would survive until the end of the 2018 season, but was supplanted by a mutated version of the company’s Mustang, which lost much of its beauty in the transformation to – ironically – fit the rules designed for the Falcon.

Holden followed suit, killing the locally built version of its Commodore, but choosing to keep the Commodore nameplate – a decision which, we’d suggest, the company now realises was the wrong one.

Anatomy of the ZB: Inside Holden's latest Commodore Supercar

The Opel Insignia-based Commodore Supercar ZB (above) came on stream in 2018, and it has enjoyed success in the hands of its Triple Eight Engineering team, who wrested the mantle of official factory operation from bitter rival Walkinshaw.

Read more: Holden’s top ten motorsport moments 

While season 2019 - dominated by the Mustang - will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, 2020 will mark the last year we see a factory-backed Commodore in action.

While Holden still maintains it will support the Commodore in local competition until the end of 2021 despite it going out of business as a carmaker, the Commodore's final year started in Adelaide in March (and won't get going again until June at this rate).

MORE Supercars a big loser with Holden's departure

What happens after that? It’s an interesting question. The Supercars category moves to what it’s calling a Gen3 car, which won’t look a lot different to the current machinery.

There will be a big focus on cost savings in areas that fans can’t see nor care about – front suspension uprights, for example, and new hub spindles – and we’d guess a change to the parameters that govern the car’s dimensions will allow the introduction of more coupe-shaped cars.

What car could that be for Holden? Even though the brand is leaving the country, the Chevrolet Camaro is still on sale – even though it’s not in the clear itself in terms of its future.

Could teams like Walkinshaw Andretti United race this in 2022?

Supercars CEO Sean Seamer was confident GM would remain involved in the sport.

“Gen3 will be driven in a large part by the direction that manufacturers are going, because it’s about maintaining and ensuring that we’ve got market relevance,” Seamer said at the Supercars 2020 season launch.

“I think that from what we’re able to see from the manufacturer road maps, two-door sportscars – obviously, the Mustang is the first of which – will be a core part.”

Read more: Rules need to change for Camaro Supercars

Teams are already assessing their options in a Commodore-less future – names like BMW are being bandied about, but we’re not sure that will happen – so the heat will come out of Commodore development at a point next year.

So if you’re keen to relive old schoolyard rivalries one last time, you’d better book a ticket to a 2020 Supercars round to Ford v Holden duking it out at the front end of the grid.