YspeopleExplore tab

They said old Holdens never died ....

About James

I have lived a lot of years and the more years I have lived, the fewer answers i have found. I hope that by engaging here we can discover some answers together.

There were two kinds of family in my early years, Holden or Falcon. But it's not the only iconic Aussie duopoly to have bitten the dust.

The last Holden rolled off the production line in South Australia this week. It's truly the end of an era.

And it's an era that I remember well.

We were a proud Holden family, owning many models, including an FC.

We were a proud Holden family, owning many models, including an FC. Picture: Shutterstock

I can identify every Holden by its identification code - from the FC through to the HZ - and owned an EH, HQ and HX. My parents before me owned an FC, FB and EK, before going Japanese, much to the chagrin of many friends. We were a Holden family until my father ‘forgot the war’.

I recall there were two kinds of family in my early years, Holden families and Falcon families. No, not Ford families, but Falcon families. While this strict dichotomy has broken down in more recent years, I understand there are still Holden families, but now there are Ford families, responding to the passing of the Falcon and the birth of a wider range of options.

Read more James St James: Do you remember life before television?

My pondering also led me to consider the other duopolies that have caused dichotomies between families in Australia over the years.

The duopoly that is now Qantas and Virgin was, in the 1960s and 70s, TAA and Ansett. My parents liked TAA because it was government owned and not a capitalist conglomerate. Other families liked Ansett, because it was not government.

On the east coast of Australia there were two department store chains, Myer and David Jones, and families generally shopped at one or the other. There were even state biases, with NSW shoppers preferring David Jones and Victorians preferring Myer. Of course, this duopoly persists, although many observers would suggest only just.

In the supermarket sector, there was Coles and Woolworths or Safeway, depending on the state you lived in. Families tended to be loyal to one supermarket or the other, with advocates of both more than happy to argue the case for their choice. I also remember some minor players, like Tom The Cheap and Charlie Carters, in Western Australia.

Until the 1980s, there were only two commercial television stations in Australia, Channel 7 and Channel 9, and while many people tended to watch programs on both, there was a tendency for families to be loyal to one station or the other - especially when it came to news. There may also have been preferences in the test pattern at a time when it dominated all screens from 11.00pm to 12.00pm most days.

In wine, there were many smaller operators but just two really big players, Penfolds and Orlando.

Families who drank wine, and there weren't many, tended to favour one brand over the other. There were just two kinds of wine drinker, red or white. It almost never got more sophisticated than that. In the main, there were two types of drinker, beer or wine. And with regard to beer, there were usually two options depending on where you were from - Carlton or Fosters, Swan or Emu, Suthocks or West-End, Four X or Great Northern, Tooheys or KB and so on.

Which beer did your family drink?.

Which beer did your family drink?

In the world of mining, there was BHP and Conzinc-Rio-Tinto (known today simply as Rio). In the ‘new’ Japanese cars there was Toyota and Datsun (known today as Nissan). In menswear in Perth, there was Walsh’s and Worths (both have since disappeared). In shoes in Perth, there was Pease and Swan and Betts and Betts (now combined as Betts). In lawnmowers, there was Victa and Rover (with only Victa surviving to this day).

These duopolies or dichotomies extended beyond commerce.

People tended to live north, south, east or west of the river (depending on the capital city they lived in). Not only did they tend to choose one side or the other, but once the decision was made, it almost never changed. Families tended to be loyal to one side or the other.

We were a small country, so duopolies were the main source of competition and given the lax competition laws, businesses were often not as competitive as they could be.

We were a country of loyal purchasers and decision makers ready willing and waiting to rationalise or even justify our purchase behaviour.

We were a much simpler society that valued much simpler things including loyalty and tribalism built around a product, brand or side of the river.

Was it better then, or just different?

Are you better off now with more choice, or just confused?

Are you less loyal now, or just more price conscious?

And deep down, are you Holden or Ford?

Banner 2
| Your rating
No ratings yet

Related stories

They may be hideous, but geez, some toby jugs are valuable.

Is your toby jug worth a fortune?


Did you know that some of those crusty-looking old toby jugs hidden in mum's china cabinet may be worth some serious coin?

Ageing Money
About 1 month ago
I hated school, but felt free during the daily walk there and back.

Do you remember walking to school?

Walking the few kilometres to and from school used to be a favourite part of my day. That's not the case for today's kids.

Community Culture Nostalgia
5 months ago
Walt Disney Shopping World and some delightful beer.

On This Day: March 22

Plenty of important moments in history took place on March 22 -- in the fields of politics, exploration, music, sports and more!

Sport Celebrities Politics Culture History
5 months ago
Annie and Alcatraz.

On This Day: March 21

March 21 is a day packed with historic action. Check out what happened here.

Sport Celebrities Politics Culture History
5 months ago
Colonel Sanders and General McArthur.

On This Day: March 20

What do Michael Jackson, General Douglas Macarthur and Princess Anne have in common? A connection to March 20.

Sport Celebrities Politics Culture History
5 months ago
Sean Connery and the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

On This Day: March 19

History's a wondrous thing, providing so much for us all to learn from. Check out what happened on this day.

Sport Celebrities Politics Culture History
5 months ago
Matthew Flinders' ship and The London Bridge.

On This Day: March 16

Traditionally, a lot of blood has been spilled on March 16. But it's not all bad news.

Sport Celebrities Politics Culture History
5 months ago
Australia's tallest mountain and one of the greatest films of all time.

On This Day: March 15

Are you celebrating a birthday or anniversary today? Learn what else makes March 15 historically significant.

Sport Celebrities Politics Culture History
5 months ago
Can you guess who? .

Can you guess who I am?

Using just these quotes (no cheating on Google), can you guess which iconic 1960s figure I am?

Sport Celebrities Politics Culture History
5 months ago
Dave Matthews Band and one of Australian cricket's finest wins.

On This Day: March 14

Read on to find out all you need to know about the life-changing historic events that occurred on March 14.

5 months ago

Message board

Derek, about 1 month ago:
I am great
George, about 1 month ago:
What's up Thomas?
George, about 1 month ago:
Messages are now updated in real time on other browsers.
Thomas, about 1 month ago:
Thomas, 2 months ago:
DJC, 2 months ago:
George, 3 months ago:
Message board active from June 2018

Have your say!

Your Great Australians

Trending stories
When it comes to great bloggers you can connect with, this list has you covered.

20 mature bloggers worth following

Looking for Australian...

(Entertainment & Culture) Over 1 year ago
Suzuki's cute little Ignis SUV has a lot going for it.

Review: 2017 Suzuki Ignis GL and GLX

Japanese car maker Suzuki,...

(Pastimes) About 1 year ago
JB Hi-Fi is on the money when it comes to customer service.

JB Hi-Fi Vs Harvey Norman

When it comes to comparing...

(Money & Business) Over 1 year ago

Ripper dad jokes get a laugh

Here's my pick of some of...

(Love & Relationships) Almost 2 years ago
Embrace training to stay relevant in an ever-changing workplace.

How to stay relevant at work

Companies are moving toward...

(Ys Comment) About 1 month ago
Weekly Poll
Photographic memories
It's 35 years since the Ash Wednesday bushfires in South Australia and Victoria claimed 75 lives and more than 2500 buildings.