In Australia, car manufacturer Holden is about to pack it in. The last Holden will be a car that was built in 2017. But there are still some fine examples of Holdens first car around.
Some years ago, GM Holden announced it will cease producing cars in Australia as of 2017. Holden has a factory in Elisabeth in South Australia, and in Victoria, near Melbourne. Next month they will all close down.
According to General Motors’ head office in Detroit, the decision to quit car production in Australia has to do with the small domestic market and the fact that this small market is very fragmented. Holden is not the first Australian carmaker to withdraw from the country, Ford and Mitsubishi did the same these past years.
But of course, for Holden it’s a different thing.
The car got its name from James Alexander Holden, who emigrated to Australia from the UK in the nineteenth century. He started a saddlery business in Adelaide but in 1856 started building coaches.
Carbodies for GM
In 1908 the business started producing parts for motorcars and in 1917 Holden began producing large numbers of car bodies for General Motors of the US. In 1931 Holden became part of GM, but for the
In 1931 Holden became part of GM, but for the Australians the brand has always been part of the country’s cultural heritage. The first mass-produced Holden was the 48-215 in 1948. After that, the brand became world famous with it’s ‘ute’, the practical pickups and vans that were produced by thousands.
After that, the brand became world famous with its powerful Monara’s and of course the ‘utes’, the practical pickups and panel vans that were produced by the thousands.
Now that the end is near for Holden, collectors and petrolheads more than ever want to preserve the Holden. It’s said that the market for classic Holdens is booming already.
In the 1920’s Holden started assembling cars for General Motors. But in 1931 GM took over the firm and now work started on a model of their own. The Australians made a design for a car of their own, but GM did not approve of it.
Finally, in 1944, GM came up with a Chevrolet-model that was pretty close to the Australian design. The Australians had to deal with that.
And they did. They turned this car into their own Holden 48-215, the first Australian car. That uninspiring name was a combination of the year 1948 and the engine displacement of the straight six, being 2,150 cc.
Even though it was a relatively simple car with a straight six engine and a manual gearbox, this first model already sold 120,000 units until 1953, when it was replaced by the Holden FJ, which was basically a facelifted 48-215.
Today there are still quite a few of these first generation Holdens around. We found this one for instance, on a website called Tradeuniquecars.
It’s from 1952 and has done 73,000 genuine miles. It seems that it’s not been fully restored, just repainted. Tires, brakes and trim are new. The price of this beauty is AUD 17,500, which comes down to USD 14,000 or a little under EUR 12,000.
This beige car is advertised on the same website. It is a year younger than the green one but has been restored inside and out. The only modernization on this car are the indicators and the seatbelt. Since its restoration, it has traveled only 2,000 miles. The thorough restoration of this car leads to a very different price tag of AUD 29,995 (USD 24,000 or EUR 20,000)
Is that very expensive for a car like that? Probably not. On the website of auction house Shannons, we found this black Holden 48-215 from 1949. At the autumn sale of Shannons in May 2017, this car sold for AUD 46,000. And we found another similar car that Shannons sold in 2015 for AUD 43,500.
But of course, you can always look for a project car. There are several of them on offer in Australia. We like this one. The price is a mere AUD 600, and it seems that you even get some parts to go with it.
Now here’s a video from 2010 about the very first Holden prototype, which is now in the National Museum of Australia.