The FX Holden, Australia’s first mass-produced car, rolled off the production line at the General Motors-Holden factory at Fisherman’s Bend in Melbourne in 1948. Within a few short years, Holden had become part of the Australian psyche. Your Memento takes a look at the very beginnings of the Holden, and how it evolved during the 1950s and 1960s.
The FX is launched
During World War II, General Motors-Holden produced munitions to assist the war effort. In 1943, JR Holden, Director of Manufacturing, sent a letter to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (and later future Prime Minister) Ben Chifley, expressing his concern that once the war ended, he would have no work for his staff.
His foresighted solution was simple: his workers could start building the first-ever ‘Australian car and utility to cater expressly for Australian conditions’. This set the wheels in motion for the company to start production of the immensely popular FX Holden.
On 29 October 1948, Prime Minister Chifley attended the launch of the FX Holden, affectionately dubbed ‘Australia’s first car’. Holden proudly proclaimed the car was made from 91 per cent local content.
Holden judged the market perfectly – the car sold so well that their expected sales of 20,000 per year were soon exceeded. Long waiting lists extended into 1949. In 1953, Holden produced 44,000 cars. In their first 10 years, they built 500,000 cars, and in the next 10, 1.5 million. Holden is now firmly stamped on the Australian way of life.
The Holden captured on camera
The Archives holds thousands of photographs documenting all aspects of Australian life during the 1950s and 1960s. These photographs were commissioned by the Australian News and Information Bureau in response to the need for overseas publicity in the interests of foreign relations, defence, commerce, finance, tourism, and especially immigration. Australian News and Information Bureau photographers travelled around Australia photographing places, people and events.
Below is a selection of Australian News and Information Bureau images showcasing the Holden from the 1950s and 1960s. Many of the images are of particular model launches, hence the rather glamorous women accompanying the vehicles.