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24 August 2004

Two iconic treasures of Australia's motoring history will be unveiled at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra at 11.15am tomorrow.

The purchase of the Holden Prototype No.1, constructed in Detroit as the definitive model for millions of Holden cars, is the most significant addition to the Museum's National Historical Collection since it opened in 2001.

The added acquisition of the Holden No.215 - believed to be the first FX ever sold and bought by the famous industrialist Essington Lewis — enables the Museum to tell this remarkable story of Australian manufacturing.

The Holdens will be unveiled by Ian Metherall and Mary Munckton, two members of Essington Lewis' family from Melbourne. Holden representative John Morrison; Holden expert and author Don Loffler; and 92-year-old Jack Rawnsley, one of the original engineers who constructed the prototype in 1946, will also be attending.

'These cars are synonymous with Australia's automotive, industrial and cultural history,' said National Museum director Craddock Morton. 'The Holden remains firmly planted in our consciousness as Australia's Own Car and we're delighted these two icons now belong to all Australians at the National Museum.'

The Holden Prototype No.1 was the first test car for the 48-215 Holden, popularly known as the FX, the model before the FJ. It was designed by Australian and American engineers before being shipped to Australia in 1946 and apparently driven to Victoria under cover of darkness.

The prototype was later sold to a Holden foreman and eventually traded to a Holden dealership in Morwell, where it remained for 40 years. Once restored, the prototype was purchased by Ian Metherall who sold it this month to the National Museum. The car still has the original hand welding and rolling, and holes indicating initial American badging.

The Holden No.215 was purchased by BHP chairman Essington Lewis after years championing the Australian car project. It was later sold to an employee, passed on to a local rabbiter and eventually recovered by Essington's daughter Mary Munckton, whose family donated it this month to the National Museum.

The purchase was made with the assistance of the National Cultural Heritage Account.

Both historic Holdens will be on show in the National Museum's Hall until Sunday, 29 August.

For more information please contact public affairs director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or

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