48-215 75th anniversary at the Holden Manufacturing Heritage Centre.

We pause for two Holden anniversaries

How quickly we forget . . .

October and November, 2023 saw two significant Australian automotive anniversaries.

The first was the 70th anniversary of the release of the FJ Holden.

It is a topic on which I’ve already written.

The second was the 75th anniversary of the 48-215 Holden: the first “All Australian” Holden.

At its public unveiling on 29th November 1948, the Prime Minister Ben Chifley immortalised the 48-215 with the words “She’s a beauty!!”

The development of the 48-215 has been chronicled in depth by many writers.

So, I will not be going over the ground already covered.

For me, the 48-215 heralded a time in Australia when there was a powerful, ambitious and shared nation building dream of the government, unions, industry, media and car buyers that there must be cars designed and built in Australia, by Australians, for Australians, boasting high levels of Australian content.

Back then, Chifley knew that this All Australian car, and the others that would follow from Holden and other car companies, would give us a new found freedom of mobility, employ thousands for decades, increase skills, enhance self-sufficiency and lower reliance in imports for our island nation which was so dependent on open seas lanes for survival. 

And still does.

Recognising the dual anniversaries, one of the biggest celebratory gatherings of 48-215 and FJ owners and enthusiasts was at the Holden Manufacturing Heritage Centre, Elizabeth, SA.

The Heritage Centre is a fabulous new addition to automotive museums in Australia.

Located at the former Holden production facility at Elizabeth, the Centre hosts and displays historic data, audio visuals, design and manufacturing artefacts of Holden’s history.

A number of “last of” and prototype cars are housed at the Centre, as are scale and full sized clay models.

Four very rare full sized fibreglass Commodore and Statesman models are on display, including the VN Commodore.

These models were used in the final production approval meetings and are usually destroyed.

Staffed by volunteers, the chairman of the Centre is Jeff Jamieson, who was GMH’s Executive Director of Manufacturing.

I was given an early morning tour of the Centre by Jeff.

And let me tell you, it needs to be on your must-see list.

The Centre is open by appointment to car clubs and groups.

Contact details are: holdenmfgheritage@gmail.com.

Kira Hayes is the Public Relations Officer and co-ordinates visits to the Heritage Centre.

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos


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