Australia’s own car
The first production model Holden rolled off the assembly line at Fisherman's Bend, Victoria, on 29 November 1948 and was viewed by many as proof that Australia had entered the modern industrial age.
In 1944 the American parent company of General Motors-Holden approved the creation of an Australian-built car, in readiness for a transition from wartime to peacetime production.
Robust, economical and designed for Australian conditions, the Holden was marketed as 'Australia's Own Car'. By 1958, sales accounted for 43 per cent of total car sales in Australia. A million had been sold by 1960 and, despite growing market competition, another million would be sold over the next six years.
Icon of postwar Australia
An icon of Australian society for more than half a century, Holden cars tapped into national postwar aspirations, and represented the development of Australian industry and commerce.
Holden was a pioneer of the nation's automobile industry and contributed significantly to the increasing prosperity of Australians in the postwar years. A Holden was the first car owned by many Australians, and various models have been celebrated in popular culture, including music, art, film, television and even pinball machines.
Traditional values in caricature
Playing on former Australian prime minister John Howard's wish to be associated with the more 'traditional' values of Australia's postwar era, this political cartoon from July 1998 portrays Howard as an outdated 1950s Holden, apparently about to be superseded by a new, improved 'Costello' model.
Peter Costello was the Federal treasurer at the time and seen as Howard's natural successor. History shows, however, that Howard went on to win the election in October that year, and another two elections in 2001 and 2004.
In our collection