This Chevrolet "Master" sedan car body is an early example of the "turret top all-steel" car bodies manufactured at the General Motors-Holden plant at Woodville in South Australia in 1939. The body was made at the Holden factory in Adelaide, the first automotive manufacturing plant in the Southern Hemisphere to install the giant "Hamilton" press on which the all-steel bodies were made. It is constructed in only four pieces of prefabricated steel. Shaped by the press, the pieces were then spot-welded together and formed a much stronger, lighter and cheaper car body. The all-steel bodies brought down the cost of cars as they required much less labour compared to the more expensive wooden coach bodies of the 1920s. These timber bodies required many small pieces of wood for the frame made by tradesmen trained in the coach building trades of the horse-drawn vehicle era.
The body illustrates the change in motor vehicle construction which occurred in the late 1930s and involved the re-skilling of workers and massive investment in plant and manufacturing. It also shows the trend towards streamlining of motor cars which began to take place in the early 1930s with the unsuccessful Chrysler "Air Flow".
This "Master" Chevrolet was made and sectioned in Adelaide at the General Motors-Holden's plant in Adelaide. It is particularly important as it is a sectioned exhibition piece which was shipped around the country to display the company's new body construction method in 1939. In February 1940 it was exhibited at the opening of Holden's Sydney plant at Bunnerong Road, Pagewood, before being donated to the Museum shortly after.
Darwin, Norm, "The History of the Holden since 1917". E.L. Ford Publications, Newstead, Victoria, 1983.
Simpson, Margaret, "On the Move: a history of transport in Australia", Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney, 2004.
Wright, John, "Heart of the Lion: the 50-year history of Australia's Holden", Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, NSW, 1999.
Curator, Science & Industry