A brief history of Holden

After 164 years of Holden, it’s truly the end of an era for Australian car lovers as Holden announces they will retire the brand at the start of 2021.

Founded in 1856 as a manufacturer of horse equipment, Holden has had a long and successful history. During World War One, the establishing brand started its production of building car bodies – it was their entry into car manufacturing.

After the war, formal factories were setup all across Australia for General Motors to produce consumer grade cars using Australian built bodies and American running gear, selling them under the iconic nameplate Holden, and by the late 1920’s, Holden had become the biggest car body builder in the Commonwealth.

Holden FX 48-215 (1948)

The depression led to a complete General Motors takeover, and just as things were looking grim, World War Two struck. All imported parts and supplies were cut off – which meant there was only one thing General Motors could do to keep Holden alive; and that was to build its own running gear in Australia.

Holden Torana HB (1967)

Success after success, Holden pushed forward at an incredible pace in the second half of the 20th century, and the carmaker would not only rise up to become the most influential in Australia, but also became a large exporter of Holden cars to Asia. It seemed like nothing could topple Holden from its podium.

Holden Commodore VT (1999)

With a few ups and downs later – the 21st century came. The imported car market now dominated every segment, and for the first time ever in 2003, Holden’s sales in Australia were overtaken; by Toyota. These new figures and Holden’s development changes proved catastrophic for the Holden brand, causing the loss of 1,400 jobs and saw Holden face losses – year after year until 2010.

A lifeline of $270 million was provided by the Australian government in 2012, but it wasn’t enough keep the factories open, and 2016 became the year that will be recorded in history books as the year Holden shut down its last factory. However, it wasn’t the end yet.

Holden Commodore ZB (2018)

After the closure of Holden factories, the renowned brand wasn’t ready to give up. In 2018, Holden revived the Commodore nameplate by rebadging the German made Vauxhall/Opel Insignia (Buick Regal in some markets), however this proved extremely unpopular to Australian car buyers – so with slumping sales and no room for movement, it’s at no surprise at all that Holden have announced that they will axe the nameplate in 2021.

For as long as anyone can remember, Holden has provided not only affordable cars for Australians, but also fed the families of many. Employing tens of thousands of people from across the country throughout the 20th century, Holden has shaped Australia to what it has become today. Every Australian shares a past with Holden, and we couldn’t imagine a past without it.


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