Ad Outtake: The 1986 Formula Holdens – One Big Family


For many years, Holden was best known for… the Holden. Well, it wore names like Kingswood and Premier and Belmont, and it came in sedan, coupe, wagon and ute styles, but there was “a Holden” much as there was “a Chevy”. Then the late 1960s brought the compact Torana, and then a few years later the even smaller Gemini was introduced. But it was the 1980s where the floodgates well and truly opened and suddenly Holden had a sprawling lineup of captive imports and rebadged products, much as Chevrolet came to have during the same decade.

This two-page advertisement, depicting a minor trim package with yet another cribbed-from-the-US name, shows just how varied the Holden lineup had become. The smallest Holden was the Suzuki Swift-based Barina, sold in North America as the Chevrolet Sprint. Then there was the Astra, a rebadged version of the Australian-built Nissan Pulsar. It could never match the Mazda 323-based Ford Laser in sales but it did better than the short-lived RB Gemini pictured below it, known elsewhere as the Isuzu I-Mark and Gemini and Chevrolet/Geo Spectrum. At the bottom is the VL Commodore, the real “Holden”, while to the right is the J-Car Camira.

Not pictured are the Drover (Suzuki Sierra/Samurai), Scurry (Suzuki Carry van), Jackaroo (Isuzu Trooper), Shuttle (Isuzu Fargo), and Rodeo (Isuzu Rodeo). There is, however, a Holden Piazza (Isuzu Impulse), probably Holden’s biggest flop in history. But more on that another time…