As Australia tearfully bids iconic car brand Holden farewell, fans are reminiscing on the brand’s 164-year history.
‘Physically ill’: Australia reacts to Holden’s collapse
But, the National Museum of Australia reveals, one major part of the brand’s history - the name of its first Australian vehicle - could have been entirely different.
In fact, before the brand launched in 1948, the company considered naming its first model ‘GeM’, ‘Melba’, ’Emu’, ‘Woomerah’, ‘Austral’, ‘Boomerang’, and even ‘Canbra’ - a phonetic spelling of Canberra.
However, it ultimately settled on ‘The Holden’, and was unofficially dubbed the ‘FX’.
Why the ‘Holden’
General Motors-Holden’s executives landed on the ‘Holden’ after the company’s first chairman, Sir Edward Holden.
Edward Holden was the grandson of James Alexander Holden, who established saddlery business J.A. Holden & Co in Adelaide in 1856.
Edward Holden joined the business in 1905 and began transitioning the company, then titled Holden & Frost, to automobiles.
Originally, the company re-bodied older chassis, before making motorbike side cars and then vehicle body shells.
With Holden’s car production later directed to making weapons, engines and aircraft during World Wars II, it wasn’t until 1948 that the company achieved its goal of making its first all-Australian car.
The Holden FX was unveiled on 29 November 1948 by Prime Minister Ben Chifley, with a set price of $733.
“She’s a beauty!” Chifley said upon seeing the car.
At the time, that was around 94 weeks of pay for the average Australian. Undeterred, 18,000 people signed up to purchase the vehicle.
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