A bidder has paid $750,000 for “the last car ever produced at Holden Australia” — even though General Motors says “absolutely the last Holden” is on display at the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, South Australia.

Key points:

  • The car was sold as the “last” manufactured in Australia
  • General Motors says the last is not for sale but is on display at a museum
  • An ex-factory worker had bought the car before it went to a dealership

The historically significant vehicle was expected to fetch about $500,000 at auction on Saturday, but exceeded expectations.

An advertisement for the 2017 Holden VF Series II sedan ahead of the auction had described it as “the last car ever produced at Holden Australia”.

Auctioneer Lee Hames said it was “arguably the most collectable … Australian car in the world right now”.

But General Motors reportedly said another Commodore was “absolutely the last Holden”, and was currently on display at the National Motor Museum.

That vehicle, which ceremoniously rolled off the assembly line at the Elizabeth manufacturing plant as it shut in October 2017, is not for sale.

The closure of the factory, north of Adelaide, marked the end of large-scale car manufacturing in Australia.

‘Chance conversation’ led factory worker to historic car

Mr Hames, the chief operating officer of Lloyds Auctioneers and Valuers, said the Commodore sold on Saturday had been destined for sale at a dealership before an ex-Holden factory worker “intercepted” it.

The auctioneer said a 14-year veteran of the Elizabeth plant had purchased the historically significant car before putting it up for auction.

“Just by a chance conversation on that last day, he overheard that the car was destined for a dealership interstate,” Mr Hames said.

“So he made as many phone calls as he possibly could to connect with the dealership and make a private sale for that car.

“It never made it to the dealership. He managed to intercept the car before it did.”

Describing the car before the auction, Mr Hames said it was, “one of … [the] one last car manufactured in the country”.

The historic Holden Commodore sold at auction on Saturday.(ABC News)

“It represents the end of an era or the end of [car] manufacturing in Australia,” he said.

He cited the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which he said was the last of any Australian-made Holden.

He also said it was the last to go through the Elizabeth factory bodyshop and paintshop.

“This is the last car that was bodied, the last car that got a VIN … and the last car that got the Holden badge put on it,” Mr Hames said.

The vehicle was sold at an auction house on the Gold Coast.

The final sale price of $750,000 was reached after an intense bidding war on Saturday afternoon, involving in-person, online and telephone bidders.

The car sold after a heated bidding war on Saturday.(Youtube: Lloyds Auctions)

General Motors insists exhibition car Australia’s ‘last’

General Motors conceded that the car sold at auction was indeed the final one to go through the bodyshop and paintshop at the Elizabeth factory, but said it was not “absolutely the last Holden”.

The car that was auctioned was “the last body to leave the bodyshop and enter/exit the paintshop — not to come off the general assembly line itself,” the US company told carsales.com.au.

This Holden Commodore was the “last car” that rolled off the factory floor at the Elizabeth Holden plant in October 2017, and is now on display at the National Motor Museum.(Supplied: National Motor Museum)

“The Commodore on loan to the National Motor Museum in South Australia was the last car that ran down the general assembly line and is not for sale.

“The vehicle … is on display in the National Motor Museum in Birdwood, SA and was the last vehicle to come off the end of the general assembly line late morning of 19th October, 2017.”

General Motors owned the Holden brand until it was discontinued last year.

The Birdwood Motor Museum exhibition runs until December.