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A Brief History of Holden


Holden has traditionally filled a very large space in the Australian car market and perhaps most importantly responsible for the modern Australian muscle car. While the company no longer produces vehicles as of 2018, manufacturing its final signature Commodores in 2017, it still serves as an auto importer. 

Holden began as a saddle maker in 1856, but with the advent of automobiles at the turn of the century, the family-owned and operated company decided to branch out. After their acquisition by GM in 1926, Holden came into operation of one of the most diverse portfolios of any car manufacturer worldwide. Holden produced many of its own vehicles while also badge engineering vehicles from GM, Isuzu, Toyota, Nissan, Vauxhall, and Opel, among others. General Motors, Holden’s parent company, produced Australian-made vehicles for nearly a century from 1926 to 2017.

Some of the most powerful Holdens ever built under HSV were rebadged as American Pontiacs, many of which were heavily-modified Commodore and Monaro variants. In fact, the General Motors Holden Zeta platform served as the basis for the Pontiac G8 and GTO of the 2000s, with the GTO being widely recognized as the most powerful Pontiac ever built.

The Australian muscle market flourished largely due to less-restrictive regulations on performance vehicles than their US counterparts. Many Holden designs were actually down-tuned before they could be exported to foreign markets. The main competitor of the Commodore and Monaro, the Ford Falcon V8 Interceptor, was Mad Max’s vehicle in the original film. Holden actually partnered with the producers of the later Mad Max films to produce some of the more aggressive and outlandish designs for the desert combat cars.

For more on the leader of Australian automotive history, check out the following link to the GM Heritage Center. Be sure to take a look at the additional links at the bottom of the page for even more Holden greatness.


-Trey Fennell

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