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A Holden History From Horse Saddles and Horse Whips to Classic Holden Cars


Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars, traditional icons for the Australian way of life. From horse saddlery to an iconic car manufacturer in Australia, the Holden name has become synonymous with reliability and innovative motor vehicle design and manufacturing.

Henry James Holden was born in 1859 (the son of James Alexander Holden who, at 19 years of age, arrived in Australia in 1854) and he was destined to be the forefather of today’s General Motors Holden – Australia.

In 1885, the then J.A. Holden & Son, were prolific manufacturers of horse harnesses, horse saddles, travel goods, gun cases, whips, crops and vehicle hardware. Under government contracts in 1897, the company supplied their equipment to fulfill the governments needs for the Boer War.

In 1908, in the USA, the General Motors Corporation was formed and built Buick, Oldsmobile, Oakland and Cadillac. This was to have a positive future impact on the J.A. Holden company development in Australia.

The design and manufacturing commenced in Australia of a standardized car body for Buick and Dodge chassis, soon began in 1917.

At the time the Australian Government’s wartime trade restrictions decreed that only one complete car can be imported into Australia for every three chassis. Business booms as the use of state-of-the art machinery and innovative techniques ensures a competitive product.

Holden’s now famous “lion and stone” symbol, representing man’s invention of the wheel, is now employed as the Holden logo. It wasn’t till 1938, that GMH discuss the manufacturer of a complete Australian car built and designed in Australia for Australian conditions.

20 hectares of land at Fisherman’s Bend in South Australia becomes the major manufacturing facility. During 1940-42, Holden is operating from 7 plants nationwide manufacturing supplies for the Australian and US armed forces.

Holden launches it’s first fully manufactured Australian car, the 48-215 FX and is rolled off the production line on October 1, 1948. Unbeknown by the company, every new model manufactured becomes one of the many classic Holden Cars.

From here on, Holden was now destined to prove itself as a major motor vehicle manufacturer gaining respect from car buyers in Australia and later the world.


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