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Holden story belongs to all Australians

25 AUGUST 2004

Two iconic FX Holdens unveiled today at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra will take visitors on a nostalgic journey celebrating the nation's first and most popular mass produced car.

The Holden Prototype No.1, built in Detroit as the definitive model for millions of Holden cars, is the most significant addition to the Museum's National Historical Collection. Australia's story of industrial achievement is also enriched with the acquisition of the Holden No.215 - bought by fabled BHP chairman Essington Lewis - and believed to be the first FX ever sold.

Holden expert Don Loffler - who is writing his fourth book on Australia's Own Car - was at the opening this morning and said the early Holdens were a landmark in Australia's industrial and social history.

"From this prototype Holden gave the Australian public the first irresistible package of power, economy, toughness, reliability, ideal family size, neat appearance and good value for money and we loved it," says Don.

The rich story of each car was unravelled by guests at today's 11am unveiling:

  • Don Loffler, Adelaide. Author of She's A Beauty: The Story of the First Holdens; Still Holden Together and The FJ Holden; and has researched the icons for more than 20 years.
  • Mary Munckton and Ian Metherall, Melbourne. Essington Lewis family members who will unveil the cars they respectively donated and sold to the National Museum. Lewis' daughter Mary wrote in her diary that night in 1949 when the No.215 car was delivered: "What a honey!"
  • Jack Rawnsley, Melbourne. The 92-year-old engineer who travelled to the US in 1946 to work on the No.1 prototype before it was secretly shipped to Australia.

Through their 50 year histories the cars variously belonged to a Holden foreman, a rabbiter, father-and-son car enthusiasts and eventually again the Lewis family.

Both historic Holdens will be on show in the National Museum's Hall until Sunday, 29 August. The purchase was made with the assistance of the National Cultural Heritage Account.

For radio interviews please contact public affairs director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or m.portus@nma.gov.au