Originally posted on fueltank.cc
Words: Karlee Sangster Photography: Luke Ray
GM Holden Limited, Australia's oldest motor vehicle manufacturer was established in 1856 as J.A. Holden and Co, a saddlery business in Adelaide. Various partnerships followed and in 1908, Holden and Frost moved into the business of minor repairs to car upholstery. Next came the production of complete motorcycle sidecar bodies in 1913 and shortly after, the company experimented with fitting bodies to different types of carriages. The trade restrictions post-WWI led the company to start full scale production of vehicle body shells. By 1919 Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd was producing 12,000 shells a year, and by 1924 were the exclusive supplier of car bodies in Australia for USA’s General Motors.
In 1931 GM purchased Holden Motor Body Builders and merged it with General Motors (Australia) Pty Ltd. General Motors Holden Ltd was born. Despite increasing conflict in Asia, there were early indications of export potential. Australian newspapers in 1938 reported news from GMH that twenty four Chevrolet tourers were ordered for shipment to Batavia (now Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia), where GM had established an assembly plant in 1927.
Post WWII, GMH developed a locally manufactured car with the assistance of a tariff wall from the Aussie government. The new Holden model was launched in 1948 and soon dominated the market.
Export began in 1956 to seventeen countries, including Indonesia. In 1959, GMH sent completely knocked down Holden packs to Indonesia for assembly. The Holden gained prestige status during the 1960s and ‘70s, sparking drama in 1967 when members of Indonesian parliament attempted to import 150 of the cars to sell to themselves tax free.
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