The Birth of 'Australia's Own Car'
Prime Minister Ben Chifley
 

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 sedan.

Runaway Success
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 or more.

Federal Government Request
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 the challenge.

There's Nothing 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 Bettle.

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.

 
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