National Library of Australia

The Holden car

General Motors-Holden’s Pty Limited Engineering Department Body Exterior Ornamentation Installation, part no. 7423020 sheet 5 (EH station wagon), Melbourne 1962–1963

dyeline print; 43.3 x 55.7cm

South Australiana Collections, State Library of South Australia
The Holden car

It was August 1963 and the first EH Holden rolled off the General Motors-Holden’s (GMH) production line.

The sleek EH, GMH’s eighth model since the release of the original 48-215 (FX) in November 1948, ushered in a new era for Australian-built cars. The car’s lines were more modern and the engine was vastly superior to the performance of GMH’s opposition. (The original 1962-3 drawings are part of a significant Holden archive in the State Library of South Australia.)

The EH’s appeal was also economic. The base model was cheaper than the Holdens produced in the mid-1950s.

More than 250 000 of the cars were sold in the next 18 months. At one stage, one car in three on Australian roads was a Holden.

It all began in 1856, when James Alexander Holden set up a leather and saddlery business in Adelaide. By 1913 the company was making motorcycle sidecar bodies and, by 1917, bodies and accessories for imported chassis.

General Motors was the company’s biggest customer, and by 1924 Holden’s Motor Body Builders (HMBB) Ltd was GM’s exclusive supplier. In 1931, they merged to form General Motors-Holden’s.

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