OVER the past few weeks, Shannons Club has released three instalments of its End of an Era doco series, charting the rise of the Aussie car industry. But the fourth and final part, A Legacy Lost: 2000-2017, landed over the weekend to document the fall. Just in time for Bathurst, and, much like the Great Race itself, it’s sure to stir a few emotions and perhaps cause the odd tear.
As the new millennium gained traction, Holden was selling several different body styles and had a lucrative export programme under the benevolent eye of Peter Hanenberger. Over at the Blue Oval, the dynamic Geoff Polites was integral in the creation of the DOHC Barra turbo motor, successful Territory SUV and even Craig Lowndes’ 2001 defection from Holden Racing Team.
It was a time when manufacturers were free to advertise their cars with flair and excitement, and plenty of such adverts grace the screen during this 46-minute episode. Former Holden engineer Tony Hyde, Ford racer John Bowe, author Gavin Farmer and auto historians Mark Oastler and Dr John Wright all throw their considerably informed opinions out there on what went right and what went wrong.
The documentary also chronicles the sharp decline and closure of Mitsubishi’s Adelaide plant, along with the quiet success and eventual expiration of the Aussie Toyota Camry. Presenter Shane Jacobson explores some of the reasons for the downfall of our once-mighty industry – not only the social influences, but the role played by the left and right of politics as things unravelled.
Most importantly though, he encourages enthusiasts like us to keep the flame alive, as our locally made cars were more than just transport; they were part of our identity. And in this respect, he is preaching to the converted.
As End of an Era: Part Four draws to a close, several minutes are dedicated to a montage of our industry’s best and worst. Fan favourites like the HQ Holden, VU ute, Bolwell Nagari, XK Falcon, Ford Territory and FPV range swap screen time with those we love to hate: the JB Camira SJ, Leyland P76, AU Falcon, and Brock’s folly, the ‘polarising’ VL HDT Director.
The four-part series stands as a concise record of our achievements and the forces that conspired to cease them. Full credit to the enthusiasts at Shannons Insurance for putting it together, without bias and with no sales agenda. If you’re after a tearjerker tonight, leave that Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks DVD box set on the shelf; all you need is Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon nestled either side of big Shane Jacobson. Get the tissues; it’ll be tough – but worth it.
All four parts can be viewed here.
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.