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In 1852, James Alexander Holden emigrated to South Australia from Walsall, England and in 1856 established J.A. Holden & Co, a saddlery business in Adelaide. In 1885, German-born H. A. Frost joined the business as a junior partner and J.A. Holden & Co became Holden & Frost Ltd. Edward Holden, James' grandson, joined the firm in 1905 with an interest in automobiles.From there, the firm evolved through various partnerships and, in 1908, Holden & Frost moved into the business of minor repairs to car upholstery. The company began to produce complete motorcycle sidecar bodies in 1913, and Edward experimented with fitting bodies to different types of carriages. After 1917, wartime trade restrictions led the company to start full-scale production of vehicle body shells. J.A. Holden founded a new company in 1919, Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd (HMBB) specialising in car bodies and utilising a facility on King William Street in Adelaide.
By 1923, HMBB were producing 12,000 units per year. HMBB was the first company to assemble bodies for Ford Motor Company of Australia until its Geelong plant was completed.From 1924, HMBB became the exclusive supplier of car bodies for GM in Australia, with manufacturing taking place at the new Woodville plant.These bodies were made to suit a number of chassis imported from manufacturers such as Chevrolet and Dodge. In 1926 General Motors (Australia) was established with assembly plants at Newstead, Queensland; Marrickville, New South Wales; City Road, Melbourne; Birkenhead, South Australia; and Cottesloe, Western Australia utilising bodies produced by Holden Motor Body Builders and imported complete knock down (CKD) chassis. In 1930 alone, the still independent Woodville plant built bodies for Austin, Chrysler, DeSoto, Morris, Hillman, Humber, Hupmobile and Willys-Overland as well GM cars. The last of this line of business was the assembly of Hillman Minx sedans in 1948.The Great Depression led to a substantial downturn in production by Holden, from 34,000 units annually in 1930 to just 1,651 units one year later.In 1931 General Motors purchased Holden Motor Body Builders and merged it with General Motors (Australia) Pty Ltd to form General Motors-Holden's Ltd (GM-H). Throughout the 1920s Holden also supplied tramcars to the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board, of which several examples have been preserved in both Australia and New Zealand.
Although Holden's involvement in exports has fluctuated since the 1950s, the declining sales of large cars in Australia led the company to look to international markets to increase profitability. Since 2010 Holden has incurred losses due to the strong Australian dollar, and government grants have been reduced.This led to the announcement on 11 December 2013 that Holden will cease vehicle and engine production by the end of 2017, however, the company will continue to have a large and ongoing presence in Australia importing and selling cars as national sales company. Holden will retain their design centre, but with reduced staffing.
This very nice example is rumored to have come stateside as a thank you gift for Cloisione badges provided to an Austrailian Collector by a Seattle manufacturer. In the current owners care since the early 90's, the car was completely cosmetically restored in a body off restoration. There is no bond0 anywhere on the car, it was a very solid car to start with, and the metal craftsman that performed the work did not believe in using body filler. The Paint, Interior, and Top were all replaced at that time, and the chassis was restored, but the car really needed very little mechanical work to speak of. Recently, the generator was rebuilt, and a new battery fitted.
The car starts right up, runs smoothly, shifts and stops well and could be confidently driven cross country. This car needs nothing really but a happy new owner.
This is a very rare car stateside, but with a ready availability of spares owning to its domestically produced Chevrolet Chassis.