J. A. Holden & Co became a leading saddlery in South Australia soon after its founding in 1856. When the original owner’s grandson joined the company almost 50 years later he added automotive upholstery repair to the company’s services. Following WWI, the formation of subsidiary Holden Motor Body Builders occurred, which began to produce car bodies in Adelaide, South Australia. The next decade would have HMBB manufacturing car bodies for Austin, Chrysler, DeSoto, Ford, Morris, Hillman, Humber, Hupmobile and Willys-Overland. Then, in 1931, the company General Motors bought the company.
When the Australian government began to encourage growth of the Australian auto industry, Holden executives made a compromise with GM to build a Chevrolet based, Australian car under the Holden name. The first Holden 48-215, the first mass produced Australian badged automobile, began rolling off the assembly line on this day in 1948. A waiting list of buyers took more than a year to fill.
In February 2020 General Motors announced that it would retire the Holden brand in 2021. This announcement came three years after Holden stopped Australian auto production. Since 2017 Australian Holden vehicles were imported from Opel in Germany and GM plants in Canada, US, South Korea and Thailand.