Australia’s own – the FX Holden

Australians are a patriotic bunch and we stick by our passions through and through! Whether it’s our family, mates or football team – we barrack for the same name from beginning to end. A great example of this unwavering devotion is our passion for cars. The traditional rivalry between Ford and Holden for example is instilled in us right from the time we take our place in the baby capsule in the back seat of the family V8.

This 1943 letter from Holden’s manufacturing man to future Prime Minister Ben Chifley is history in the making. Not only did it set the wheels in motion for the company to start production on the immensely popular FX Holden, but it also symbolised the blossoming of Holden as a simple parts manufacturer into one of Australia’s most iconic institutions.

JR Holden shows great foresight in conveying his concerns for the company’s future prosperity and that of its 7000 staff once the war is over (it ended two years later in 1945). Holden’s car production facilities had been repurposed and replaced by munitions production to assist the war effort.

What was Holden to do when the war ended and its services were no longer required? Build the first-ever ‘Australian car and utility to cater expressly for Australian conditions,’ says JR. After all, Holden does mean a great deal to Australia.

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    Brochure for the FX Holden, 1948
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    Letter from JR Holden to Ben Chifley, 1943
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017