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Goodbye Holden... thanks for the memoriesBack

On February 26, 2020
The news of Holden's closure is being felt across the country. In this article, we take a nostalgic look at what made the brand synonymous with Australia.


It probably doesn’t matter if you have a ‘Blue Oval’ or ‘Mighty Lion’ parked in your driveway. In fact, I’d wager it doesn’t matter what badge your ride features on its grille, the end of the road for Holden is devastating news for anyone.

Holden is Australia. As much as football, meat pies, and kangaroos. I refuse to believe there is a person alive who hasn’t sat in, driven, passed, been passed by, or admired a Holden. The brand has over 160 years of history. Let’s take a nostalgic look back at the key moments that has Holden engrained in Australia’s automotive culture.

  • 1856:  James Alexander Holden, co-founded a saddlery business in Adelaide named Holden & Frost.
  • 1887:  James’ son Henry, took over the business after his father passed away.
  • 1896Holden & Frost supplies saddles and harnesses to Imperial Forces in the Boer War.
  • 1908:  The company takes its first step into the automotive world by specialising in motor trimming and interior items for carriages and cars.
  • 1913:  Starts manufacturing sidecars for motorcycles.
  • 1917:  Starts making bodies to fit Chevrolet chassis and assembling bodies for Ford.
  • 1924:  Becomes the sole supplier in Australia of car bodies to General Motors (GM) from the US.
  • 1931:  Holden and GM merge, giving birth to GMH.
  • 1936:  Holden comes to Victoria after purchasing a piece of land at Fishermans Bend.
  • 1939:  GMH supplies guns, tanks and planes to The Allies during WWII.
  • 1948:  Prime Minister Ben Chifley, launches the car built in Australia for Australians—the FX Holden which in its 6-year run saw 120,402 roll off the production line.
  • 1953:  The legend is born—The FJ Holden. With a panel van option, this little beauty saw Holden rise to market leader, with one in three cars in Australia adorning the Holden badge.
  • 1962:  The EJ Holden was launched as something genuinely ‘all new’ although the changes between the FJ and FB hit the magic mark of 100,000 vehicles a year. By now, every second car sold in Australia is a Holden.
  • 1968:  An icon is released—The Kingswood, giving Australians a choice of models: Belmont, Premier, Brougham, Statesman or Monaro.
  • 1978:  The Commodore is released which is a smaller, sleeker, European-designed medium to large sedan. With Brock doing so well at Bathurst in a Torana, Commodore's quickly developed a cult following.
  • 1997:  The VT Commodore is released and shared Australia’s love with the rest of the world. The ‘Yanks’ trusted the GTO title to the VT, also available in a Monaro model. The Sheiks in the Middle East developed a ‘Luxo-Barge’ model based on the Statesman to drive around the desert.
  • 2010:  All good things must come to an end. After 15 straight years as the top-selling vehicle, the Commodore enjoys this title for the final time.
  • 2013:  Australia gives birth to one last Commodore—The VF. We enjoyed this special model for four years and its 6.2 litre V8 with superchargers on the HSV variants.
  • 2018:  Euro Commodore Take 2; unlike the VB Commodore, the ZB Commodore was not embraced by the Australian public. After 12 months on the market, Holden announces the ZB would be the last Commodore.
  • Monday, 17 March 2020:  General Motors announces that Holden was leaving the building.

In the end I could have written more; including hits like the Torana and the Gemini, and misses like the Calibra, Piazza or even an abject failure that won Car of the Year, the Camira. The Holden brand is the single golden thread of Australia’s automotive and manufacturing fabric. It was a significant source of employment, it was Ford’s counterpoint and brand rival, and will be the reason ‘why’ many of us continue to hit the road for years to come. Thanks for the memories Holden.



Nick Kotsonis | Corporate Relations

03 8768 5777


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