Monday October 29, 2018
On Monday 29th November 1948, Ben Chifley, the then Prime Minister of Australia, unveiled the first ever Holden car – the mighty 48-215. The company ceased the manufacture of vehicles in October 2017, and now operates as an importer, but the legacy of seven decades of fine machinery lives on to this day. Here are a few milestones in the early history of marque –
FX 1948 - 1953
The name by which the 48-215 is widely known -
‘Australia’s Own Car’ was powered by a 2.2 litre straight six engine, had bench seating fore and after trimmed in ‘fine quality restful upholstery’, a three-speed steering column gear change and suspension designed to cope with the very worst of the country’s road network. Extras included a second sun visor, a venetian blind for the rear screen and ‘Coolaride Cushions for the seats’; the FJ hailed from an era long before air conditioning…
FJ 1953 - 1956
Or the FX formula with enhanced power, a new grille and a range of trim levels; “Business”, “Standard” and “Special” .The last-named was the flagship version with a cigarette lighter, leather trim and two-tone paint. An FE was also the star of this genuinely hard hitting public information film which also gives a fascinating insight into Australian road traffic of the 1950s -
Up to the minute coachwork - – 12 volt electrics and, on the Special, ‘a new flashing light system, operated by a lever on the steering column’, one which warns motorists in front or behind when you intend turning to right or left.
In other words, the new top-of-the-range Holden had director indicators as standard and was the sort of Holden that demanded to be seen in Technicolor -
By 1957 there was also a very appealing “Station Sedan” estate version - – while the face-lifted FC offered even more chrome decoration. More importantly from the perspective of General Motors, by 1958 Holden had a share of the Australian new car market of more than 50 %.
FB/EK 1960 – 1961/1961 – 1962
The FB featured a larger engine but in terms of show room appeal it was the most flamboyant Holden to date with its wrap-around windshield and vestigial tail fins -
The lightly modified EK was the company’s first product to be offered with Hyrda-Matic transmission in Special guise, an option that helped it to compete against the Falcon and the Valiant.
EJ 1962 – 1963
In my humble view, the EJ was one of the most attractive-looking cars of its generation - – with the company deliberately aiming for a low-key but smart appearance, the better to rival Ford and Chrysler. By the end of 1962 the Premier version with its automatic transmission, separate front seats and even an AM radio was a must-have status symbol. And in 1963 it was succeeded by the even more handsome…
EH 1963 – 1965
To many devotees of Holden around the world, the EH was one of the company’s greatest products -
There was a choice of “149” or “179” engines, svelte new styling – and within 18 months a quarter of a million EHs had been produced.