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Holden - marque/manufacturer information

List of all Holden cars

Holden, officially GM Holden Ltd, is an Australian automaker based in Port Melbourne, Victoria. The company was originally independent but since 1931 has been a subsidiary of General Motors (GM). Holden has taken charge of vehicle operations for General Motors in Australasia and, on behalf of GM, holds partial ownership of GM Daewoo in South Korea. Over the years, Holden has offered a broad range of locally produced vehicles, supplemented by various imported GM models. In the past, Holden has offered rebadged Nissan and Toyota models in sharing arrangements.

Holden car bodies are manufactured at Elizabeth, South Australia, and engines are produced at Port Melbourne, Victoria (Fishermens Bend). Historically, production or assembly plants were operated in all mainland states of Australia: Acacia Ridge, Queensland, Dandenong, Victoria, Mosman Park, Western Australia, Pagewood, New South Wales, and Woodville, South Australia (body production only). Until 1990, Holden New Zealand also operated a plant based in Petone. The consolidation of car production at Elizabeth, South Australia, was completed in 1988, but some assembly operations continued at Dandenong until the mid-1990s.

Although Holden's involvement in exports has fluctuated since the 1950s, the declining sales of large cars in Australia has led the company to look to international markets to increase profitability; in 2006, exports alone accounted for almost AU$1.3 billion in earnings.

History of the marque

Early history

In 1852, James Alexander Holden emigrated to South Australia from England and established J.A. Holden & Co, a saddlery business in Adelaide, in 1856. Edward Holden, James' son, joined the firm in 1905 with an interest in automobiles. From there, the firm evolved through various partnerships and, in 1908, Holden and Frost moved into the business of minor repairs to car upholstery. The company began to produce complete motorcycle sidecar bodies in 1913, and Edward experimented with fitting bodies to different types of carriages. After 1917, wartime trade restrictions led the company to commence full-scale production of vehicle body shells. J.A. Holden incorporated a new company in 1919, Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd (HMBB) specialising in car bodies. By 1923, HMBB were producing 12,000 units per year. From 1924, HMBB became the exclusive supplier of car bodies for GM in Australia, with manufacturing taking place at the new Woodville, South Australia plant. These bodies were made to suit a number of chassis imported from manufacturers such as Chevrolet and Dodge. The Great Depression era led to a substantial downturn in production, from 34,000 units annually in 1930 to just 1,651 units one year later. In 1931, General Motors purchased the business and formed General Motors–Holden's Ltd. Since then, two name changes have occurred: the first, in 1998, changed the name to Holden Ltd, and the second, in May 2005, to GM Holden Ltd.


Holden's first full-scale factory in Fishermens Bend was completed in 1936, with construction beginning in 1939 on a new plant in Pagewood, New South Wales. However, World War II delayed car production until April 1948 when the Australian Government took steps to encourage an Australian automotive industry. During the war years, production shifted to manufacture vehicle bodies, field guns, aircraft, aeroplane and marine engines. Both Ford and General Motors provided studies to the Australian Government to produce "Australia's Own Car". Ford's proposal was the Government's first choice, but required substantial financial assistance, whereas GM's was a three-page list of the members of parliament and what each member would receive in "financial aid".

Holden's managing director, Laurence Hartnett, was particularly enthusiastic about developing and building an Australian car. The 48-215, also unofficially called the FX, was launched in 1948 fitted with a 132.5 cubic inch (2,171 cc) engine. The design however, was based on a previously rejected post-war Chevrolet proposal.


During the 1950s, Holden dominated the Australian market by offering buyers a combination of style, comfort, performance, economy, and value that no competitor could match. Less expensive four-cylinder cars did not offer Holden's ability to deal with rugged rural areas. Another factor in Holden's success was its large investment in production capacity, which allowed the company to meet increased post-war demand for motor cars. 48-215 sedans were produced in parallel with the 50-2106 coupe utility from 1951; the latter was known colloquially as the "Ute" and became ubiquitous in Australian rural areas as the workhorse of choice. Production continued with minor changes until 1953, when the Ute was replaced by the facelifted FJ model. The FJ was the first major change to the Holden since its 1948 introduction. Over time it gained iconic status and remains one of Australia's most recognisable automotive symbols. A new horizontally slatted radiator grille dominated the front-end of the FJ, which had other trim changes, along with a large rear window, but no changes were made to the body panels. Although the FJ was little changed from the 48-215, marketing campaigns and price cuts kept vehicle sales steady until a completely redesigned model, the FE, was launched in 1956, and offered as both a station wagon and a sedan. Mechanical components carried over from the FJ, but the appearance was very different. Strong sales continued in Australia, and Holden achieved a market share of more than 50 percent. The opening of a new plant in Dandenong, Victoria in 1956 brought with it further jobs, with Holden employing 19,000 workers country-wide by 1959. Holden paid homage to the FJ with the Efijy concept car at the 2005 Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.


In the 1960s, Holden faced serious competition for the first time; its major competitors began to import cars. In 1960, Holden began to offer its third major new model, the FB. The FB's style was inspired by that of 1950s Chevrolets, with tailfins and a wrap-around windshield with "dog leg" A-pillars. By the time Holden introduced the model, many considered the appearance dated. Much of the motoring industry at the time noted that the adopted style did not translate well to the more compact Holden. The FB became the first Holden that was adapted for left-hand-drive markets, enhancing its export potential.

In 1960, soon after Holden introduced the FB, Ford unveiled the new Falcon in Australia, only months after its introduction in the United States. To Holden's advantage, the Falcon was not durable, particularly in the front suspension. Early tests indicated that the Falcon was ill-suited for Australian conditions, and Falcon customers later agreed. In response to the Falcon, Holden introduced the facelifted EK in 1961; the new model featured two-tone paintwork, chrome trim, and optional automatic transmission. The EH, premiering in 1963, featured the new Red motor, which provided better vehicle performance than the previous Grey motor. In February 1965 Holden introduced the HD, quickly replaced by the facelifted HR in April 1966 because the car's styling proved unpopular. The HR had new front and rear styling and higher-capacity engines, and Holden sold more than 250,000 units in the two-year production run. More significantly, the HR Holden now had seat belts as standard; Holden thus became the first Australian automaker to provide the safety device as standard equipment across all models. 1966 also marked the completion of the production plant in Acacia Ridge, Queensland.

In 1968, Holden introduced its next major new model, the HK. This included Holden's first V8 engine, a Chevrolet engine imported from the United States. Models based on the HK series included an extended-length prestige model, the Brougham, and the first two-door Holden, the Monaro. The name "Monaro" is an Aboriginal word meaning "higher ground" or "higher plain". In the HK series, the mainstream Holden Special was rebranded the Kingswood, and the basic fleet model, the Standard, became the Belmont. A facelifted HK, known as the HT, was introduced in 1969. Exterior changes included a new radiator grille, new rear doors on sedans (with larger windows), and new rear styling with a larger rear window. Holden also introduced the first Australian-designed and mass-produced V8 engine, available in two capacities: 253 cubic inch (4.2 L) and 308 cubic inch (5.0 L). The following year, Holden offered the HG, a lightly facelifted car with a revised radiator grille, tail lights, interior trim, and colours. The HG's big selling point was its Tri-Matic three-speed automatic transmission, which Holden produced at its Woodville, South Australia, factory.

In 1964, Holden began assembling the HA series Vauxhall Viva, marketing it as "Viva—the GMH small car" to de-emphasise the Vauxhall brand. The first Holden Torana, the HB, replaced the Viva in 1967. Holden offered the LC, a Torana with new styling, in 1969; this was the first compact six-cylinder car in the Australian marketplace, and Holden's first compact car in a market dominated by Japanese models. The name "Torana" is an Aboriginal word meaning "to fly".

Despite the arrival of serious competitors—namely the Ford Falcon, Chrysler Valiant, and Japanese cars—in the 1960s, Holden's locally produced large six- and eight-cylinder cars remained Australia's top-selling vehicles. Sales were boosted by exporting the Kingswood sedan, station wagon, and utility body styles to places such as Indonesia, Trinidad and Tobago, and South Africa, where the vehicles were badged as the Chevrolet Kommando.


In 1971, Holden launched its new HQ series, often considered the most important new model since the original Holden. At this time, the company was producing all of its passenger cars in Australia, and every model was of Australian design; however, by the end of the decade, Holden was producing cars based on overseas designs. The HQ was thoroughly re-engineered, featuring a perimeter frame and semi-monocoque (unibody) construction. This provided a level of refinement not seen in this class of vehicle before. Other firsts included a wide, 60 inch (1,500 mm) track, all-coil suspension, an extended wheelbase for station wagons, utilities and panel vans. The series included a new prestige brand, Statesman, which also had a longer wheelbase. The HQ framework led to a new generation of two-door Monaros, and, despite the introduction of the similar sized competitors, the HQ became the top-selling Holden of all time, with 485,650 units sold in three years.

The next development of the Torana was the LH series, introduced in 1974. The LH was offered only as a four-door sedan; a three-door hatchback variant was added in the superseding LX series (manufactured between 1976 and 1978). Engines for the LH and LX series included 1.9 litre four-cylinder, 2.8 litre and 3.3 litre six-cylinder, and 4.2 litre and 5.0 litre eight-cylinder. At the time, the Torana was the only car in the world to be offered with such a diverse range of engines. The four-cylinder Torana later became the Sunbird, sold from 1974 to 1980. The UC series, which followed the LX in 1978, did not support the V8 engine range.

In 1975, Holden introduced the Gemini, the Australian version of the T-Car, based on the Opel Kadett C. The Gemini was an overseas design developed jointly with Isuzu, GM's Japanese affiliate; a badge on the rear of the car identified it as a "Holden-Isuzu". The new car was powered by an Isuzu 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine, and its styling resembled that of the Kadett. Fast becoming a popular car, the Gemini rapidly attained sales leadership in its class, and the nameplate lived on until 1987.

Holden's most popular car to date, the Commodore, was introduced in 1978 as the VB. The new family car was loosely based on the Opel Rekord E body shell, but with the front from the Opel Senator grafted to accommodate the larger Holden six-cylinder and V8 engines. Initially, the Commodore maintained Holden's sales leadership in Australia. However, some of the compromises resulting from the adoption of a design intended for another market hampered the car's acceptance. In particular, it was narrower than its predecessor and its Falcon rival, making it less comfortable for three rear-seat passengers. This problem was not resolved until the 1988 introduction of the wider VN, the first full-sized Commodore.

Holden discontinued the Torana in 1979 and the Sunbird in 1980. After the 1978 introduction of the Commodore, the Torana became the "in-between" car, surrounded by the smaller and more economical Gemini and the larger, more sophisticated Commodore. The closest successor to the Torana was the Camira, released in 1982 as Australia's version of GM's medium-sized "J-Car".


The 1980s were challenging for Holden and for the Australian car industry. The Australian Government tried to revive the industry with the Button car plan, which encouraged car makers to focus on producing fewer models at higher, more economical volumes, and to export cars. In 1980, Holden shut-down its Pagewood, New South Wales production plant and introduced the light commercial Rodeo, sourced from Isuzu in Japan. The Rodeo was available in both two- and four-wheel drive chassis cab models with a choice of petrol and diesel powerplants. The range was updated in 1988 with the TF series, based on the Isuzu TF. The Rodeo has been a mainstay ever since, and since 2003, has been sold in the form of the Isuzu D-Max produced in Thailand.

Holden faced financial challenges when sales of the Commodore and Gemini declined. Competition from Ford intensified when the Laser, a compact car based on the Mazda 323, and an updated Falcon proved popular. Other Australian manufacturers, Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi Motors also gained market share. When released in 1982, the Camira initially generated good sales, which later declined because buyers considered the 1.6 litre engine underpowered, and the car's build and ride quality below-average.

In 1985, Holden's parent company, General Motors, reorganised and recapitalised the business, separating the engine and car manufacturing divisions in the process. The engine manufacturing business was successful, building four-cylinder GM Family II engines for use in cars built overseas. Holden exported its one millionth Family II engine in 1988 and its three millionth in 1999. Also in 1985, the Suzuki Swift-based Barina was launched, becoming Holden's first truly small car.

Holden began to sell rebadged Nissan Pulsar hatchbacks as the Holden Astra in 1985, as a result of a deal with Nissan. When Nissan released a new model Pulsar (with an Astra clone) in 1987, it included the same GM Family II engine that powered the Camira. This arrangement ceased in 1988 when Holden entered a new alliance with Toyota. The joint venture formed a new company: United Australian Automobile Industries (UAAI). In 1989, Holden began to sell rebadged versions of Toyota's Corolla and Camry, as the Holden Nova and Apollo respectively, while Toyota sold the Commodore as the Toyota Lexcen.

In 1984, Holden introduced the VK Commodore, with significant styling changes from the previous VH. The Commodore was next updated in 1986 as the VL, which had new front and rear styling. Controversially, the VL was powered by the Nissan RB30 3.0 litre six-cylinder engine and had an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. The engine change was necessitated by the legal requirement that all new cars sold in Australia after 1986 had to consume unleaded petrol. Because it was infeasible to convert the six-cylinder engine to run on unleaded fuel, the Nissan engine was chosen as the best engine available. However, changing exchange rates caused the cost of the engines to double over the life of the VL. Holden's decision to opt for a Japanese-made transmission led to the closure of the Woodville, South Australia assembly plant. The final phase of the Commodore's recovery strategy involved the 1988 VN, a significantly wider model powered by the American-designed 3.8 litre Buick V6 engine.


The company changed throughout the 1990s, increasing its Australian market share from 21.0% in 1991 to 28.2% in 1999. Besides manufacturing Australia's bestselling car, which was exported in significant numbers, Holden continued to export many locally produced engines to power cars made elsewhere. In this decade, Holden adopted a strategy of importing cars it needed to offer a full range of competitive vehicles.

On April 26, 1990, GM's New Zealand subsidiary, Holden New Zealand, announced that production at the assembly plant based in Petone would be phased out and that vehicles would be imported duty-free. During the 1990s Holden, other Australian automakers and trade unionists pressured the Australian Government to halt the lowering of car import tarrifs. By 1997, the federal government had already cut tariffs to 22.5% from 57.5% ten years earlier, and by 2000 were planning to reduce this even further down to 15%. Holden was critical, saying that Australia's population was not large enough, and that the changes could tarnish the local industry.

Holden re-introduced its defunct Statesman brand in 1990, this time under the Holden marque, as the Statesman and Caprice respectively. For 1991, Holden updated their Statesman and Caprice with a range of improvements, including the introduction of anti-lock brakes, a first for an Australian-built car. This feature was added to short-wheelbase Commodore range in 1992. Another returning variant was the Ute.. The Buick-sourced V6 engine, produced locally, powered the Commodore range, as did the 5.0 litre V8 engine, replaced in 1999 by a 5.7 litre unit.

The UAAI badge-engineered cars sold poorly, but the Holden Commodore, Toyota Camry, and Corolla were all successful when sold under their original nameplates. Potential customers saw that the "copies" were thinly disguised versions of popular cars, and purchased the vehicles from the original manufacturer. In 1994, the Opel Corsa replaced the already available Suzuki Swift as the source for the Holden Barina. Later, in 1996, UAAI was dissolved, and Holden returned to GM products. The Holden Astra and Vectra, both designed by Opel in Germany, replaced the Toyota-sourced Nova and Apollo. Assembly of Vectra began at Elizabeth, South Australia in 1998, and these cars were exported to Japan and Southeast Asia with Opel badges. However, the Vectra did not achieve sufficient sales in Australia to justify local assembly, and reverted to being fully imported in 1999.

In August 1997, Holden introduced the all-new VT Commodore, the outcome of an $600 million development programme that spanned more than half a decade. The new model sported a rounded exterior body shell, improved dynamics, and many firsts for an Australian-built car. A stronger body structure increased crash safety. A revived Monaro, based on the VT Commodore, attracted wide attention after being shown as a concept car at Australian motor shows, and it drew a large waiting list after production began. The revived Monaro was released to the Australian market in October 2001 and ceased production in 2005.


Holden's market surge from the 1990s reversed in the 2000s. In Australia, Holden's market share dropped from 27.5% in 2000 to 15.2% in 2006, and from March 2003, no longer held the number one sales position in Australia, losing ground to Toyota. This overall downturn also affected daily production rates which were at 780 and 835 units per day in 2002 and 2004 respectively, to just 691 in 2005. Holden's profits during the 2000s also decreased; the company recorded a combined gain of $842.9 million between 2002 and 2004, and a loss of $290 million between 2005 and 2006. Factors contributing to the loss included the development of an all-new model, the strong Australian dollar and the cost of reducing the workforce at the Elizabeth plant, including the loss of 1,400 jobs after the closure of the third-shift assembly line in 2005.

The company's trend of importing many of their models from Opel in Germany continued until 2005, but to increase profitability, Holden looked to the South Korean Daewoo brand for replacements after acquiring a 44.6% stake in the company in 2002. Holden had already established close research and design links with Daewoo, with whom it exported the large Statesman model. In 2005, the Opel-sourced Barina was replaced by the Daewoo Kalos, which continued to be sold under the Barina nameplate. The Viva, based on the Daewoo Lacetti, replaced the entry-level Holden Astra Classic, although a new Astra launched in 2004 was offered as more of an up-market model. In 2006 Holden introduced the Captiva, a crossover SUV manufactured by Daewoo. After discontinuing the Frontera and Jackaroo in 2003, Holden was only left with one four-wheel drive model: the Adventra, a Commodore-based station wagon. The third Holden model to be replaced with a South Korean alternative was the Vectra, replaced by the mid-size Epica in April 2007.

The 1997 VT Commodore received its first major update in 2002 with the VY. The VZ was launched in 2004, and introduced GM's High Feature engine, known as the Alloytec V6. The new engine was built at Holden's Fishermens Bend plant in Victoria, which opened in 2003 and is capable of producing 900 engines per day. The plant will add $5.2 billion to the Australian economy; exports account for about $450 million annually. The High Feature engine is also found in other models, including the Holden Captiva and Rodeo. By 2006, Holden had replaced the Commodore with a new all-Australian model, in contrast to previous generations' Opel-sourced platforms adapted both mechanically and in size for the local market.

Corporate affairs and identity

2005 sales and production
Vehicle sales Units
Passenger vehicles 122,830
Light commercial vehicles 45,906
Sport utility vehicles 5,728
Total 174,464
Vehicle production Units
Total vehicle production 152,749
Daily vehicle production 691
Engine production Units
Family II 181,458
High Feature 134,212
Total 315,670

Chairman and managing director Chris Gubbey currently heads operations at Holden. Executives of secondary departments include William Lesner, Alison Terry, Ian McCleave, Tony Hyde, Tony Stolfo, Alan Batey, Rodney Keane, Scott Sandefur, Pierre Matthee, Gene Stefanyshyn, Raymundo Garza, Mark Bernhard, and Fiona Harden. Vehicles are sold countrywide through the Holden Dealer Network (310 authorised stores and 12 service centres), which employs more than 13,500 people.

Since the 1960s, Holden models have been a staple of domestic touring car racing, and the quasi-factory Holden Racing Team (HRT) has successfully participated in V8 Supercar racing. In 1987, Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) was formed in partnership with Tom Walkinshaw, who primarily manufactures modified, high-performance Commodore variants. To further reinforce the brand, HSV introduced the Toll HSV Dealer Team into the V8 Supercar fold in 2005 under the naming rights of HSV Toll Racing.

The logo, or "Holden lion and stone" as it is known, has played a vital role in establishing Holden's identity. In 1928, Holden's Motor Body Builders appointed Rayner Hoff to design the emblem. The logo refers to a prehistoric fable, in which observations of lions rolling stones led to the invention of the wheel. With the 1948 launch of the 48-215, Holden revised its logo and commissioned another redesign in 1972 to better represent the company. The emblem was reworked once more in 1994.


Holden first began to export vehicles in 1954, sending the FJ to New Zealand. New Zealand is now Holden's largest export market, with the large Commodore model toping the sales charts from-time-to-time. To combat declining large car sales in Australia due to rising fuel costs, the reduction of import tariffs and demographic changes, Holden began to broaden their export potential by catering their full-size Commodore and Statesman models to left-hand drive markets. In Brunei, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and parts of the Middle East, Commodores are badged as Chevrolet Luminas, and in Brazil as the Chevrolet Omega. The larger Statesman model is also sold alongside the Lumina in the Middle East as the Chevrolet Caprice, and previously in China as the Buick Royaum, before being replaced by the Park Avenue.

A modified version of the Monaro coupé has been sold as the Pontiac GTO in the United States and under the Monaro name through Vauxhall dealerships in the United Kingdom. Since the Monaro's dismissal, Vauxhall has begun to sell the HSV Clubsport R8, badged as the Vauxhall VXR8, and Pontiac has chosen both the V6 and V8 versions of the Commodore to be exported as the G8 from 2008 onwards. Holden's move into international markets has been profitable; export revenue increased from $973 million in 1999 to just under $1.3 billion in 2006.

List of all Holden cars

Source: Wikipedia


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