This archive relating to the Australian car manufacturing company, General Motors-Holden's Limited (GM-H), covers paper material produced by and about the famous Holden firm from 1948 until 2010. Of particular importance are the 78 original advertising brochures and booklets devoted to particular models. These include a cavalcade of iconic Holden cars from the FJ to the Kingswood and from the Monaro and Torana to the Commodore.
This archive is significant as it provides a snapshot of the history of Holden in Australia through the cars they produced. It is not only important as the specifications of each model are detailed but as a source of the history of graphic design and advertising in Australia over a 62-year period.
The successful mass production of cars in Australia began in January 1948 when GM-H announced that it would release its new Australian-built car. On 29 November of that year 1200 guests, including the Prime Minister, Ben Chifley, stood around a humble, ivory-coloured car which appeared from behind silver curtains to the strains of a ten-piece orchestra. This Holden, designated the 48/215 and later commonly nicknamed the FX, was adapted from an American design and became Australia's first successfully mass produced car. It had exceptional performance for a low-cost, four-door, family car with seating for six. It is said that it was so popular, and the buying queues so long, that dealers did not need salesmen, they only wrote orders. The dimensions and 6-cylinder power plant of the Holden set the design pattern for the majority of cars sold in Australia over the next 25 years.
Holden's growth soared through the 1950s and 1960s when it captured 50 percent of the total market but by the 1970s competition from lower-priced Japanese imports began to take their toll, together with the oil crisis of 1974. Nevertheless, new models continued through the 1980s, many incorporating significant design and safety innovations. The slide really began in the late 1990s with a reduction in federal government tariffs from 57 percent in the late 1980s to 22 percent in 1997. By the early years of the twenty-first century Holden's market share had dropped from 27 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2006. With some 66 makes available in Australia (in 2014), twice the choice US drivers had, increasing competition from European makers and the strong Australian dollar, Holden was in real trouble. Despite the company being thrown a $270 million lifeline by the Australian Government in March 2012 to keep it afloat, the announcement was made on 11 December 2013 that the great Australian icon will no longer be made in Australia from 2017.
Simpson, Margaret "On the move: a history of transport in Australia", Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney, 2004.
Judy Campbell, MAAS volunteer, and Margaret Simpson, Curator,