THERE was a time, as an Australian car enthusiast, when your blood either ran red or blue.
Red if you were passionate about Holden; blue if you were Ford through and through.
But things changed after both companies ceased manufacturing in Australia - or so said Bendigo fans.
"People have gone away from their loyalties because their loyalties have shifted, too," said Bendigo Car Club president Craig Button.
A passionate Holden fan himself, Mr Button said it was disappointing the company had pulled out from making mid-large sized family cars.
He said the current model Commodore was a mid-size car rather than a full-sized family car.
There were other differences, too, which led Mr Button to believe the model didn't meet the expectations of the Australian market.
For Mr Button, and those like him, the last true Holden Commodore was one that rolled out off an Australian production line.
But that didn't make Holden's announcement any less sad for fans, Bendigo Sandhurst Holden Club treasurer Ray Armstrong said.
"They're a loved car and they were popular," Mr Armstrong said.
He believed Holden should have retired the Commodore nameplate when it ceased producing them in Australia.
"They should have let it go," Mr Armstrong said.
Holden has instead decided to focus on producing SUVs and light commercial vehicles, which account for just over three-quarters of its sales.
Interim chair and managing director Kristian Aquilina said it was a sales trend "we only see continuing".
"Holden is taking this decisive action to ensure a sharp focus on the largest and most buoyant market segments," Mr Aquilina said.
In addition to the ZB Commodore, Holden today announced it was retiring the BK Astra.
Sales and deliveries of both models will continue next year, but with diminishing model availability "as part of an orderly runout".
"The decision to retire the Commodore nameplate has not been taken lightly by those who understand and acknowledge its proud heritage," Mr Aquilina said.
"The large sedan was the cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand roads for decades. But now with more choice than ever before, customers are displaying a strong preference for the high driving position, functionality and versatility of SUVs and utes."
Holden said Australia's large car segment accounted for 217,882 sales in 1998. It is projected to come in at about 8700 units this year.
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