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Holden

James Alexander Holden immigrated to South Australia from Staffordshire, England, in 1852. He established a saddlery and leather goods business in King William Street, Adelaide, in 1856, naming his company JA Holden and Co.

The company business changed name to Holden & Frost when Henry Frost became a junior partner in 1885. James died in 1887 and his son Henry, who joined the company in 1879, succeeded him as senior partner.

From the mid-1880s Holden & Frost expanded its small-scale ironmongery and commenced repairing and eventually building horse-drawn carriages. In 1913, the company began production of motorcycle sidecars and in 1914 built its first car body. Prompted in part by wartime restrictions on the importation of car bodies, Holden & Frost began manufacturing car bodies on a large-scale in 1917. Initially, their bodies were designed primarily for Buick and Dodge chassis. Holden's Motor Body Builders (HMBB) was established as a component of Holden & Frost in 1918.

Holden's plant at Woodville opened in 1924, with a state-of-the-art production line which produced 22,150 bodies in its first year. The plant became the sole Australian supplier of bodies to the General Motors Corporation (GM). From 1928 the Holden badge showing a lion rolling a stone - from the myth that man invented the wheel after observing a lion rolling a rock - was first used. Although updated over the years, this badge is still used by Holden.

In 1926, General Motors Australia (GMA) was established and in 1931 GMA and HMBB merged to form General Motors-Holden's (GMH). In the late 1930s, the idea of producing a car made entirely in Australia was first conceived, but plans were put on hold after the outbreak of World War II. During the Second World War, GMH manufactured materials for the war effort including aircraft, boat and truck engines and components.

In November 1948, GMH released the first all-Australian manufactured car, the 48-215 (known as the FX). In 1957 GMH produced its one millionth car body.

Since then Holden has continued to produce a range of cars and commercial vehicles for Australian and export markets.

Advertisement for JA Holden & Co.
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Australia's own car...Holden : [extracts]
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Copper printing plate of JA Holden & Co.
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Holden Motor Car Assembly Line
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Horse Collars : manufactured by Holden & Frost
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Leather pouch
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Monaro: Holden's command performers : [extracts]
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Motor car assembly
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New Australian car : [cover]
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Royal Adelaide Exhibition medal
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The driving force in Australian history
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This is the Holden
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