We try to keep a close eye on Holden here in the United States as one of General Motor’s final remaining foreign divisions. Even as Holden has undergone a major transformation in the past two years, we can’t forget where the company came from.
One of the latest episodes of “Up To Speed” focuses on our favorite Australian brand and does a decent job of walking through Holden’s long history, which begins in the 19th century. Holden first began as a saddle maker for horses but decided in the early 20th century to switch gears and try its hand at building car bodies. Holden worked to manufacture bodies for Ford and General Motors for imported cars.
In 1931, Holden officially joined GM to become GM Holden in the country, however, it wasn’t until the 1940s that Holden came into its own with the introduction of the 48-215—the first car ever built in Australia. Over the decades, Holden gave birth to iconic Australian cars that include the Monaro, Torana, and of course, the Commodore. The Sandman gets an honorable mention for becoming a major cult classic down under.
Along the way, Walkinshaw came into the picture to help Holden start Holden Special Vehicles, which became as synonymous with performance as Holden itself.
As we know, things began to crumble down throughout the 2000s as the financial crisis hit and costs to build cars in Australia skyrocketed. In the early 2010s, Holden announced it would cease manufacturing in Australia, effectively bringing an end to Australia’s own car. Today, Holden operates as a national importer and sources its vehicle lineup from GM brands around the world.
Grab a look at the video above, and for those yearning for the full backstory on Holden, we recommend picking up a copy of “Holden: Our Car” for a detailed history.