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Supercars: the Holden v Ford war is over

By Tim Robson, 11 Dec 2019 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.

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 inevitable news that Holden will kill off the slow-selling Commodore in the face of irrevocable consumer change sinks in, 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 friend, 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 arguably mark the last year we see a factory-backed Commodore in action.

While Holden maintains it will support the Commodore in local competition until the end of 2021, the swansong year will, in all reality, start in Adelaide next March.

“Holden recently re-committed to racing in Supercars through until the end of 2021, and that will happen with the currently homologated ZB Commodore race car,” said the company in a statement.

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? Despite proclaiming itself “dedicated exclusively to SUVs and light commercial vehicles” going forward, the Camaro is still on sale – even though it’s not in the clear itself in terms of its future.

Could Holden race this in 2022?

“Racing is a strong part of Holden’s brand identity and we will assess our options as Supercars continues to evolve its rules for the next generation of cars currently due to be introduced in 2022,” says Holden bravely.

Read more: Rules need to change for Camaro Supercars

Teams will already be 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 2019 Supercars round to Ford v Holden duking it out at the front end of the grid.

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