Two Holden concept cars find new home, classic collection split among local museums

Two classic Holden concept cars, unveiled at the 2004 Melbourne Motor Show, have found a new home at a little-known local sports-car brand.

Two classic Holden concept vehicles have found a new home in Melbourne – as US car giant General Motors prepares to split Holden’s collection of priceless concept and production cars across a range of local museums.

CarAdvice understands the Holden collection will be shared across numerous museums for safe-keeping, and in many cases to enable the public to view the vehicles.

Two of Holden’s most unusual concept cars are understood to be the first to be split from the collection.

Unveiled to the public during the 2004 Melbourne Motor Show, the MS8 Clubman and MS8 Streamliner were the brainchildren of then-Holden designer Mike Simcoe, who is now the head of design for General Motors globally, based in Detroit.

Built on identical chassis, both cars are powered by 5.7-litre LS1 SS Commodore V8 engines that produce 245kW and 470Nm.

They were designed and produced in conjunction with legendary Australian manufacturer Elfin, which was founded in 1959 and built race cars for the likes of James Hunt, Didier Pironi, Vern Schuppan, Bob Jane, and Larry Perkins.

With the shutdown of the Holden brand in Australia at the end of this year, the prototype vehicles have been moved to Elfin’s Heritage Centre in the suburb of Moorabbin.

Above: the MS8 Clubman and MS8 Streamliner at the Elfin Heritage Centre in Moorabbin.

The museum is operated by Bill Hemming, who owned the Elfin brand between 1998 and 2010.

He told CarAdvice the MS8 prototypes came about when Mr Simcoe walked into his factory one day to buy a car.

“I didn’t know who he was and he didn’t introduce himself. He said ‘I’ve always wanted a Clubman. I want it to be Australian, so I guess it has to be an Elfin, but I don’t particularly like the looks of it’.”

“So I told him to bugger off … and he did, but then came back two weeks later with a sketch of what became the MS8,” said Mr Hemming.

Elfin employees then worked around the clock at Holden’s Port Melbourne studio to complete the prototypes before the start of the 2004 Melbourne Motor Show.

They were displayed as Holden concepts, but carried Elfin badging. The most obvious Holden components were the wheels from the modern Monaro and the 5.7-litre V8.

Following the well received unveiling – which was described at the time as “the best kept secret in the Australian motor industry” – Mr Hemming spent two years preparing the cars for mass-production and gaining Australian design compliance.

Unfortunately the hopes of building 100 cars a year were never realised, and the project collapsed after roughly 30 MS8 Clubmans and 30 MS8 Streamliners were built.

“The original prototypes eventually found their way to Holden’s Fishermans Bend reception,” said Mr Hemming.

“But now they’re bailing out of Australia and closing everything down, so they called and asked if I wanted to put the cars on display.”

CarAdvice has been told Holden’s historic car collection – including concepts and production vehicles – will remain in Australia but are likely to be shared across numerous museums for safe-keeping, and for the public to view.

It is understood the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 (PMCH) prevents US car giant General Motors from removing the collection from Australia.