AUTOMOBILE

Australian Police Are Retiring Their Last Holden Commodores

Historically, the vast majority of Australian police vehicles were built by Holden and Ford, with a smattering of Mitsubishis and Toyotas thrown in for color. The last 15 years saw all four automakers shut down their factories Down Under, however, and police have slowly been phasing out locally built models since then. Police in Melton, Victoria are following this trend, retiring the last Holden Commodore SS in the fleet.

Known as ‘Thomas’ to the local police, the Commodore was retired on November 30, having first been delivered in February 2018. The vehicle was a run-of-the-mill police car used for regular daily traffic patrols. It also saw use in bushfire-affected areas, and at border checkpoints established due to the pandemic.    

The Holden Commodore SS was a popular choice for police vehicles, typically being the lowest model available with a V8 engine. As the final Australian-built Commodore, the VF Series II model featured a 6.2L LS3 V8 in SS trim, good for 408 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. It was also available in the United States as the Chevrolet SS, selling in limited numbers. When the Elizabeth factory was shut down, it was phased out for the ZB Commodore in 2018, built by Opel in Germany. The Commodore nameplate would not live much longer, however, as Holden was declared dead two years later.

When government departments purchase vehicles, there’s often a strong preference towards locally-built models. It’s good politics after all, supporting domestic jobs and flying the flag for the fruits of local industry. As automakers fled Australia, though, organizations have had to source vehicles from other brands. 

The Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon were the default Australian police vehicles for years, and replacing them has proved difficult. The standard patrol car Down Under was a full-size rear-wheel drive sedan, somewhat of a dying breed in the Australian marketplace. Some police forces have looked to the Kia Stinger as a replacement, while others have explored switching to SUVs. Melton Police Force has gone this route, selecting the BMW X5 as the successor to the V8 Commodore.

As the automotive market in general has shifted away from sedans as the most popular body style, it’s no surprise that budget-conscious fleet buyers are going the same way. Regardless, this story serves as another sign of Australia’s once rich automotive ecosystem slowly becoming naught but history. The last few Holdens in service have been leaving police fleets this year, and it won’t be long until they’re all gone.  

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