Holden 1948 to now, an overview

Australians took the Holden 48/215 – popularly known as the FX – immediately to their hearts, and demand was so strong that waiting lists stretched through 1949 and beyond. With the release of the evolutionary and now-iconic FJ model in 1953, the love affair deepened. These Holdens could cruise smoothly and effortlessly on the speed limit and return brilliant fuel economy figures. Low maintenance, ruggedly reliable and comfortably accommodating, they met the demands of a unique driving environment and represented unbeatable value for money.

The company’s great growth period was in the 1950s and 1960s, when it captured more than 50 percent of the market, achieved a sales record of 19,000 Holden cars in one month, and exported cars and components to more than 50 overseas destinations. This winning formula – and its spirit endures to this day – was applied with increasing sophistication to successive models. It represented a genuine response to the voice of the customer and resulted in a domination of the sales charts that endured for almost 30 years.

Exponentially, the Holden brand assumed a unique character and stature, quintessentially Australian, signifying strength and leadership. The car-building division entered the 1990’s as General-Motors-Holden’s Automotive Limited (GMHA) This followed major restructuring which commenced in December 1986 when General Motors-Holden’s was divided into two companies: Holden’s Motor Company (HMC) and Holden’s Engine Company (HEC). HEC was fully reintegrated into Holden’s manufacturing operations in 1996. In November 1994 General Motors-Holden’s Automotive Limited unveiled its new corporate identity.

This saw the company move to the use of one name – Holden – in the market place, and a new Lion badge. As of 1998, Holden’s registered name also changed from General Motors-Holden’s Automotive Limited to Holden Ltd. There are now more Holden cars on Australian roads than any other model, with the vast majority of full-sized family Holdens having claimed the title of Australia’s most popular car – and the all-new VT Commodore is no exception.

Today, Holden is recognised as the General Motors engineering and design headquarters for the Asia Pacific Region and locally manufactures Commodore sedans, wagons and utilities plus the long-wheelbase Statesman and Caprice saloons. Holden also imports General Motor’s products Astra, Barina, Combo and Vectra from Europe. These models are re-engineered by Holden for Australian conditions with Vectra beginning local production in 1998.

The Holden Japanese-sourced commercial vehicle range includes Frontera, Jackaroo, Monterey and Rodeo while the Holden Suburban is sourced from America. These models are marketed through Isuzu-General Motors Australia (IGM), a joint venture company founded in 1989. Holden’s Engine Operations manufactures 3.8 V6 ECOTEC, V6 Supercharged and V8 engines for Holden’s local cars. Four-cylinder Family II engines, including 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2-litre versions are manufactured predominantly for export markets.

Holden is Australia’s largest exporter of manufactured automotive components and, in 1998, will export its three millionth Family II engine since 1981.