On 29 November 1948, 1200 people, including
Prime Minister Ben Chifley, watched an ivory colored motor
car appear from behind silver curtains to the strains of a
ten-piece orchestra and enthusiastic applause.
The car was the first Holden, destined to
become Australia's first successfully mass-produced car.
This first Holden, designated the 48-215
and fondly know as the FX was a six-cylinder four-door, six-seater
The 48-215 was an instant hit. Australians took the Holden
straight to their hearts, commencing a love affair that continues
to this day. Demand so far outstripped supply that the waiting
list stretched through 1949 and beyond.
Taking advantage of the 48-215's success,
some black marketeers sold their places in the queue for £100
Plans for the development of the 48-215 moved into gear in
1944, when the Australian Federal Government asked manufacturers
to submit proposals for the production of an Australian car.
General Motors-Holden's (GMH) - its technical and manufacturing
expertise advanced through wartime mobilisation - accepted
Quite Like A...CANBRA?
The word Holden defines Australian motoring and inspires a
sense of loyalty, affection and pride. But can you imagine
feeling the same way about something called the CANBRA?
During its development, the 48-215 was know
simply as the '320'. As the launch date approached, GMH's
departments submitted suggestions for the name of the first
locally massed produced car.
"The name should be easily pronounced
and preferably identifiable as Australian... (and) the consensus
of opinion is that the name should be CANBRA - the phonetic
spelling of...Canberra," said GMH Managing Director Harold
The second choice was GMH. Next came GMA,
GEM, LION and HOLDEN. How would you like to drive a brand
new MELWOOD (combining Melbourne and Woodville, site of the
GMH plant in South Australia)? Or be behind the wheel of an
EMU, MELBA or the Aboriginal-inspired WOORAMA and WIRRAWAY?
Fifty years later, the company officially
changed its title from General Motors-Holden's Automotive
to Holden Ltd - taking the unique Australian identity already
associated with the name and further emphasising the strength
of HOLDEN as a brand.