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The Holden car in Australia
The manufacture of the first all-Australian motor vehicle in 1948 not only signified an important moment in the country's industrial development it also produced a brand of vehicle - the Holden - that occupies a special place in the hearts of many Australians. The birth of the Holden The Holden name first appeared in Australia in the 1850s with J A Holden's leather and saddlery business in Adelaide, South Australia. From 1885, the Holden and Frost Company repaired and produced horse-drawn carriages and built its first custom-made car body in 1914. In 1924, the company was renamed Holden's Motor Body Builders and became the exclusive supplier of American car manufacturer General Motors in Australia.
Holden's Motor Body Builders merged with General Motors in 1931 to become General Motors-Holden's Limited (GM-H). This merger formed Australia's first large-scale automotive manufacturing facility. This was a difficult time for the company which, like many companies at the time, struggled through the Great Depression's economic downturn. By 1936, after managing director Laurence Hartnett helped steer the operation and its new plant at Fisherman's Bend in Melbourne, the company began to pick up again.
Holden in the war years
During the Second World War (1939-1945), GM-H produced more than 30,000 vehicle bodies for Australian and US forces, as well as field guns, aircraft, aeroplane and marine engines. When the war ended, the company was forced to revamp its manufacturing for production of civilian cars. This proved to be an important milestone for Holden.
Holden 48-215: the first all-Australian car
The Australian Government had been interested in the idea of an Australian mass produced motor vehicle since the mid-1930s, but this would not become a reality for over a decade. On 29 November 1948, Prime Minister Ben Chifley unveiled the first Holden 48-215, which became affectionately known as 'the FX'.
The price was set at £733 (including tax), which represented a staggering ninety-four weeks' wages for the average worker at the time. Despite this, the car was an immediate success and Holden could not satisfy demand quickly enough. Eighteen thousand people had signed up and paid their deposit without even having seen the vehicle.
When the FJ Holden was released in 1953, the economy had significantly recovered. The car now cost £1,074 (including tax), representing sixty-eight weeks' wages for the average worker.
The FJ Holden
According to author Don Loffler, something in the design of the FJ model Holden caused it to be remembered even more fondly than its predecessor.
For many people at the time the FJ was their first car. The car was then handed-down to children when it was time for them to learn to drive, endearing the vehicle to a new generation. But aside from its glamour and prestige, the FJ was a car that had been specifically designed for Australian conditions.
Holden continues to manufacture motor vehicles in Australia as a subsidiary of General Motors, as well as exporting vehicles and engines to other countries. In 2002, Holden contributed $1.1 billion to Australia's balance of trade. Among other models, it produces the popular Commodore.
Figures based on production run
(1) 1971 HQ (485,650) Price new $2,730
(2) 1998 VT (303,895) Price new $29,760
(3) 1995 VS (277,774) Price new $26,780
(4) 2004 VZ (261,238) Price new $33,160
(5) 1963 EH (256,959) Price new $2,102
(6) 1966 HR (252,352) Price new $2,167
(7) 2002 VY (241,909) Price new $30,880
(8) 1988 VN (215,180) Price new $20,014
(9) 2000 VX (207,339) Price new $28,900
(10) 1958 FC (191,724) Price new $2,220
(Prices quoted at the point of production)
Other popular Holden models
Holden car clubs
There are over fifty clubs and associated groups dedicated to Holden motor car enthusiasts. State by state some of these include:
1948 - 1978
1978 - Present
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