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The History of Holden

Farewelling more than 60 years of local manufacturing by the car-making lion.

The History of Holden

Early Years

In 1856 J.A Holden + Co. was created as a saddlery business. In 1908 the business moved into car upholstery repairs. In 1913 the company began to produce motorcycle sidecar bodies. The year 1919 saw the creation of Holden Motor Body Builders which specialised in manufacturing car bodies. In 1924 they became the exclusive supplier of car bodies for General Motors (GM) in Australia. In 1931 GM bought HMBB and merged it with GM Australia.

Holden saddle


Holden wanted to build “Australia’s Own Car” and in 1948 the first Holden car was produced. The 48-215 was marketed as the “Holden” but was unofficially known as the FX. Other names that were considered were “Austral”, “Melba”, “Boomerang”, “Emu” and “Canbra.”

View the 48-215 newspaper ad

1940's Holden


In 1951 The 50-2106 coupe utility went into production, nicknamed the “ute” it was the rural workhorse of choice. A couple years later saw the creation of the iconic FJ Holden which went into production in sedan, ute and panel van variants. In 1956 they introduced the FE and with it the “Station Sedan” body style. Three trim levels were introduced in 1958 which were the Standard, Business and Special. By 1957 Holden was exporting to 17 countries.

View the FJ newspaper ad

1950's Holdens


Holden introduces the FB which was their first vehicle to be adapted to left-hand drive markets. In 1961 the facelifted EK series was introduced with the EJ, EH, & HD models soon following. In 1966 the HR series became the first Australian car to have seat belts as standard. Production of the legendary Torana began in 1967. The year of 1969 celebrated the production of the 2 Millionth Holden and the first Australian designed V8 fitted to the HT series.

View the EJ magazine ad

1960's Holdens


The top-selling Holden of all time - the HQ- was introduced in 1971 with 485,650 units sold over 3 years. The HJ, HX and HZ series soon followed. In 1975 Holden introduced the small-sized Gemini and the Commodore VB premiered in 1978, almost 100,000 units were exported globally. The iconic Torana went through 2 series during the 70’s only to be discontinued in 1979.

Play the VB Commodore TV Commercial

1970's Holdens


1980 saw the introduction of the WB ute and Statesman, both were discontinued in 1984. The VK Commodore arrived in 1984 and soon after the somewhat controversial VL Commodore in 1986. The VN Commodore was released in 1988 which was powered by an Australian assembled 3.8L V6. The 80’s also saw the introduction of the Rodeo, Jackaroo, Astra and Barina.

Play the VH Commodore SS TV ad

1980's Holdens


Holden re-introduces the Statesman in 1990. In 1993 The Commodore received a major facelift in the VR Commodore and with it the re-creation of the ute bodystyle. Holden introduced the all-new VT Commodore in 1997, powered by a locally produced V6 or V8. Holden continued to sell the Rodeo, Jackaroo, Astra and Barina but also added the Vectra into the lineup. Holden had increased its market share from 21% in 1991 to 28.2% by 1999.

Play the VN Calais TV ad

1990's Holdens


In 2001 Holden brought back the Monaro coupe as a low volume niche model for locals but attracted global demand in the UK and the US. The Commodore VY series and the VZ series were released in 2002 and 2004 respectively. A few years later saw the intro of the all-new VE series Commodore and the Captiva SUV. In 2008 the Rodeo was facelifted and relaunched as the Colorado. In 2009 the Holden Cruz joined the lineup.

Play the VE Caprice TV ad

2000's Holdens


By late 2013 the last major iteration of the Commodore was created. The VF Commodore was then updated in late 2015 with the VF II. It was available as a sedan, wagon and ute. The VF series is the fifteenth and final Australian-made Commodore range since the introduction of its nameplate in 1978.

Play the VF II Commodore TV ad

2010's Holdens

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