1948 FX Holden (48-215)
The 1948-215 FX Holden was a four-door, six-seater sedan, lightweight and durable, with a torquey 2.15 litre “grey engine”, chosen for its efficiency and durability. It offered exceptional performance and economy. With a top speed of over 80mph (130km/h) the Holden could cruise all day at 65mph (105km/h), take steep hills in its top-gear stride and typically return 30 miles per gallon (9.4l/100km). Aerobilt body construction, at the time a relatively new engineering principle, combined body and chassis into one all-steel unit.
In reality, the 48-215 (and indeed subsequent models) had a few elements of warmed-over American pie dished up in Australia. Mr Loffler said they often formed the Holden’s weak points. The radiator was a bit too small for local conditions.
In addition on hot days, if the car had been stopped, its fuel could vaporise, making it a devil to restart. “People had enormous embarrassment on punts,” Mr Loffler said.”You’d stop the car and in the five minutes it took to go across the River Murray, they’d open the gates and you could not start the beggars.
Nevertheless the 48-215 was immensely tough and much better suited to Australian conditions than its British or American-built competitors. And that meant it wasn’t just the Loffler family whose horizons were widened by a Holden. “There were 500 dealers dotted around Australia, even in tiny country towns,” Mr Loffler said.
“If you broke your fan belt or some other thing you could get spare parts anywhere. “We could go to Melbourne and to all the big Victorian country towns and that was a really big deal, a real eyeopener.” “Everyone knew someone who worked there.”
It wasn’t just a matter of suddenly we had a new industry. As Mandy Paul from the Migration Museum explains, Australian culture itself shifted gear. “Everything changed and the transformation of culture was part of that,” she said.
“Anglo-Saxon Australians had to change their orientation … all of a sudden people were looking at different cuisines, hearing different languages on the buses and trams, were starting to think differently. “Their children were going to school with Italian, Greek and German children and so a different sort of culture took root … it was profound.”
Obviously when Holden goes we won’t lose those changes, but there will most certainly be a loss.
Commodores among factory’s top-selling models
The world’s second-oldest transportation company started as an Adelaide saddlery in 1856 and began producing all-Australian motor cars at Fisherman’s Bend in Melbourne in 1948.
The first fully-built model was produced at Elizabeth in 1965 when the HD Holden rolled off the production line.
Since 1994, General Motors Holden have manufactured all of its Australian-built vehicles in Adelaide, although engine’s were produced at Fisherman’s Bend until November 2016.
The company’s peak export year was 2005 when 60,518 Holdens were sent to 10 countries, including the Middle East and North America.
It achieved its largest market share of national sales at 50.3 per cent in 1958.
Holden 48/215 FX
1948 – 1953
Engine: 6 cyl.
Capacity: 2160 cc
Power: 60 bhp
Transmission: 3 spd. man
PRODUCTION RUN: 120,402
BASE PRICE (when new) £733 ($1466)