NotesThe Chevrolet body was made by Australia's most well-known car manufacturing companies, Holden. The firm began in Adelaide as Holden & Frost, making harnesses and other components for the coach building industry. They entered the motor body building business in 1914 when they made a custom-built body on a Lancia chassis. In 1917, following the government embargo on imported car bodies, the firm began producing bodies for imported American Dodges and Buicks. In 1919 the company was reorganised and in 1920 became Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd. By 1924 Holden had one of the world's most advanced production lines at Woodville in South Australia and exclusively supplied bodies to the Australian branch of the American company, General Motors (GM). Holden accounted for half of Australia's total production of motor bodies, producing 35,000 units annually and employing 2600 people.
The Great Depression caused a huge drop in production at Holden, and in 1931 General Motors purchased the company to become General Motors-Holden's Limited (GMH), managed by Laurence J Hartnett from 1934 to 1947. By the mid 1930s, as the Depression eased, cars began to be more streamlined. The touring car almost disappeared by the end of the decade with sedans and coupes being the favoured bodies.
In 1937 GMH released the "uni-steel turret top body", the first Australian-made all-steel car bodies for Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac cars. At first the all-steel bodies were plagued with problems including poor door margins and panel fits plus ineffective door inner and outer weather strips. In 1938 an enormous "Hamilton" press was brought into production to allow side panels to be pressed in one piece. It measured 23 ft (7 m) in height from floor level and another 15 feet (4.6 m) below ground and was capable of producing a complete side, top or floor of a motor body in one section. The 100 hp main engine for the press was installed in a pit 30 feet (9.1 m) below the workshop floor and exerted a pressure of 1,000 tons. By pressing the cowl side, roof rail, centre pillar, outer sill, and rear quarter in one piece, all welds that would have normally intersected at the door opening, causing distortion and variation at assembly, were eliminated. The single pressed panel also provided a ledge which offered better support for the weather strips.
In all, GMH's Woodville plant made 2129 Master Chevrolet sedans and 4640 Standard sedans in 1939, selling for 399 Australian pounds and 359 pounds respectively. This was a dramatic decrease in the cost of Holden-bodied Chevrolets which, 20 years earlier, in 1919, had retailed at 375 pounds.
The Chevrolet Motor Company was formed in America in 1911 by the self made millionaire, William C. Durant. Durant had lost control of General Motors in 1910 due to debt, just two years after he founded it. In an endeavour to buy back General Motors he organised two small automotive companies - the Little Motor Car Company to produce a cheap car and the Chevrolet Motor Company, engaging Louis Chevrolet, a famous Swiss racing driver and engineer of the time, to design his first up-market car. Durant managed to regain control of General Motors in 1916 but lost it again permanently in 1920. The Chevrolet Motor Company had been purchased by General Motors in 1917. In 1925 General Motors had realised how much potential there was in Australia as a car buying market. They extensively improved their dealership and service network in this country, accordingly Chevrolets were avidly promoted.
Division of General Motors, Holdens Ltd.