Issues with road noise on certain models
The occasional plastic-looking interiors
Holdens started out life in 1856 in Port Melbourne, Victoria, as a saddlers, but by 1908, they had made the move into producing automobiles. In 1931, they were bought out by US car giant General Motors and changed their name to General Motors-Holden’s Ltd, becoming Holden Ltd in 1998.
The decision to make an entirely Australian-built range of cars was put on hold due to World War II, and the company went into military production. After the war, they started out with their first commercial model in 1948, simply called the ‘Holden.’ It was in 1950 that the 50-2106 coupe utility left the production line and created a legend as the ute was born to cater to Australia’s rugged heartland.
By the 1960s, Holden was exporting to 17 countries around Southeast Asia and had production plants in South Africa and Indonesia. After the success of the FC and FJ ranges, the FB hit the showrooms and featured many influences of the big American cars, in particular the Chevy, with large, distinctive tailfins. The EK series also featured a more durable suspension and was better suited than its rivals to rough roads.
Although the 1980s saw tough times for the car manufacturing industry, Holden managed to produce one of their most popular cars in this period, the ‘Commodore.’ A partnership first with Suzuki and then Toyota, selling rebadged versions of each other’s vehicles, helped a lot, and when these were dissolved in the mid-1990s, Holden returned to marketing GM products once more and saw their market share increase again.
When GM acquired a major share in Daewoo, they also promoted the Korean cars as rebadged Holdens. Here, the Daewoo Kalos became the Holden Barina and the Lancetti was sold as the Holden Astra.
The company has always participated in motor racing with their Holden Racing Team (HRT). Since 1987, while working alongside Tom Wilkinshaw, the company has produced special performance-level cars under the Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) badge.
Overview of Holden‘s Models
Working in conjunction with GM since their buyout in the 1930s, Holden has provided the majority of cars to Australia and also have a good presence in New Zealand, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Hawaii. One of their first iconic vehicles was the ute, very much suited to the country’s outlying areas; it served as a durable, strong pickup that handled the unpredictable terrain outside of the towns and cities with ease.
Much of Holden’s early car production was influenced by the big muscle cars of Detroit. The large bonnet, tailfins, and prominent grilles were the calling card of vehicles like the FC, FB, and EK models. Home-grown developments like the Hydramatic automatic transmission and the Powerglide gearbox were well suited to the countryside.
The introduction of the Chevrolet V8 engines also gave the cars more power, and fitting them into the HK series spawned such classics as the Monaro, the prestigious Broughton, and the 1970s masterstroke, the sexy Sandman.
The last of the big Holdens was the VF Commodore. They still manufacture their VF ute and the Statesman Caprice. Most of their current range includes rebadged Opel, Isuzu, and Chevrolet cars from across the GM family.
The Holden range of cars is designed to compete across the motoring sectors. They have competed well in some of the ranges, such as the full-size car range with the Commodore. With their long list of ute cars, they have often set trends.
Once you leave the comfort of the urban roadways, you need a very durable car, and this has always been Holden’s strength – making cars capable of crossing the continent.
Holden has competed regularly with the Japanese producers, mainly due to the proximity of the two markets, but they have also seen American and European cars entering the scene. Their long association with General Motors has also led to a number of home-produced versions of Opel, Chevrolet, and Daewoo vehicles.
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