This is a General Motors-Holden model 48-215. The 48-215 Holden was first released in 1948 and was the first truly successfull mass-produced car to be made in Australia. However, the Holden name has a history associated with road transport dating from 1856. At that time, James Alexander Holden, a British migrant who arrived in Adelaide at the age of 20, was operating a leathergoods business in Adelaide, South Australia. The business underwent a number of major expansion stages, including a merger with the Frost carriage-building and trimming business in 1885. The Boer War (1899 to 1902) provided a profitable market for Holden & Frost, due to the heavy demand for saddles and ancillary equipment for the mounted troops. When James Holden died, his son Henry was left in charge.
In 1905, Henry's son Edward completed a degree in Science and Engineering from Adelaide University and entered the business with new and innovative ideas focussed on motor cars, rather than horse-drawn vehicles. In 1908 Henry travelled overseas to investigate how the motor car industry was developing. During his absence, Edward set up a small workshop and started working on motor cars, the success of which eventually led to the full-scale construction of motor bodies, beginning in 1914 with the fitting of a body to an imported Lancia chassis. In 1917 a full-scale body-building plant for Dodge motor cars was set up in conjunction with the Cheney Motor Company; accordingly, in 1919 two Holden businesses were operating: Holden's Motor Body Builders Limited and Holden & Frost (leathergoods).
After World War I, production increased year after year. In 1919 about 1600 bodies were made, increasing to about 22 000 bodies by 1925. However, by 1925 the demand for leather goods had declined and the leather business was disposed of. By 1926 the newly created General Motors (Australia) Pty Ltd (GMA) had established car assembly plants in five Australian States. The onset of the Great Depression saw a decline in the purchase of motor cars, so to consolidate their activities, Holden's Motor Body Builders Limited merged with GMA to become General Motors-Holden's Limited (GMH) in March, 1931. This led to the company's decision to design and construct a car for Australian conditions.
At the beginning of World War II, to provide an incentive for Australian companies to manufacture car engines and chassis in Australia, the Government had passed the so-called Bounty Bill, and before the end of the War GMH had established a development study to specify and produce a complete car for Australian conditions, code named Project 2000. This study covered the possibilities and logistics of manufacture, including the components that would go into the car, the steel available, the engine size and type, fuel economy and the post-war family budget. The specification was later changed in view of suggestions made by GM engineers and the project was renamed Project 2200.
Before the end of the war a GMH team led by Managing Director, Larry J. Hartnett visited GM's headquarters in the USA to push plans to build a car in Australia. The team was encouraged to go ahead, but capital would not be provided by the parent-company. However, good news came from the Australian Government with the backing of two bank loans, £2.5 million from the Commonwealth Bank and £500 000 from the Bank of Adelaide.
Meanwhile, a GM Chevrolet research group in the United States had been experimenting with a number of light car projects, including a 4-cylinder model designated 195Y13 and a 6-cylinder model designated 195Y15, both with a wheelbase of 117 inches (2970 mm). The reports indicated that the 6-cylinder engine was superior, in spite of the fact that the two cars had the same capacity, torque and weight. This car showed a strong similarity to the car specified in Project 2200, and Hartnett decided to accept the 195Y15 model, after some modifications, including stretching the wheel base 1 inch (25.4 mm), reducing the tread 2 inches (50.8 mm), changing the rear axle ratio from 4.125 to 3.889 and increasing the curb weight by 160 lbs (72.6 kg).
The first body of the model 48-215 was made at the Woodville plant in South Australia in July 1948, and the first engine was completed at Fishermans Bend in Victoria in September 1948. On 29 November 1948 1200 official guests, headed by Prime Minister Ben Chifley, watched the launch of the first Holden model 48/215, while 26 000 GMH employees and family members previewed the new model at GMH factories nationwide.
The original idea was to name the Holden models by the year of production and body style number. The '48' meant that it was made in 1948 and the '215' referred to the body style of the particular model (the Standard Sedan was assigned the number '215', the business sedan was assigned 217).
There are numerous theories about where the later unofficial model designation 'FX' came from. This emerged among Holden owners and enthusiasts well after the 48/215 (also known as the “series” model Holden) had been replaced by the FJ and subsequent models, the FE, FC and FB. Perhaps the 'X' designation was chosen because of its association with the unknown or unspecified. It is also possible that it was first used as a reference for spare parts.