Holden is the shortened name for GM Holden LTD located in Australia. It is an automaker that began in 1856 as a manufacturer of saddles and entered into automobile manufacturing in 1908. In 1931 the company became a subsidiary of GM and was named GM Holden LTD. In 1998 the name was changed to Holden LTD and adopted the name Holden in 2005. On December 11, 2013, Holden announced they will cease production at the end of 2017.

Holden produces GM vehicles in Australia along with other brand names including, Chevrolet, Isuzu, Nissan, Opel (until mid-2013), Suzuki, Toyota and Vauxhall Motors. They also produce self-developed vehicles: the Commodore, Caprice and Ute.

Holden vehicles are manufactured in Elizabeth, South Australia and the engines in Port Melbourne, Victoria.

The company was founded by James Alexander Holden under the name J. A. Holden & Company in 1856. The name changed to Holden & Frost Ltd in 1885 when Henry Fredrick Frost partnered with Holden. Holden’s grandson joined the company in 1905 and began minor vehicle repairs.

In 1913 Holden began producing motorcycle side cars and in 1917 began developing automobile body shells. In 1919 a new company was founded, Holden’s Motor Body Builders LTD.

The company built body shells for Ford and GM until 1924 when they became the exclusive supplier of Bodies for GM. In 1931 GM purchased Holden Motor Body Builders and merged into General Motors-Holden LTD.

After the war, Holden began producing vehicle bodies for Buick, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Vauxhall and Oldsmobile Ace (1946-1948). In 1948 the company began production of its own brand. In the 1950s Holden produced several utility and sedan models, the Ute (utility vehicle), FJ (panel van), FE (station wagon) and FC (sedan).

In the 1960s new models were produced: the FB, the first Holden vehicle for left-hand-drive markets. Other models included the EK, EJ, EH, HD, HR, HA, HK, and LC.

In the 1970s more new models were produced: the HQ, HX, HZ, HJ, LH, UC, Gemini, and Commodore (VB).

The 1980s and 1990s Holden mainly updated the previous versions with a few new models: the Statesman and Caprice. In the late 1980s and early 1990s Holden sold Toyota Camrys and Corollas but returned to selling only GM in 1996.

In the 2000s Holden’s sales began to fall and was no longer the number one in the Australian market. After a surge in sales between 2002 and 2004, the company lost tens of millions in subsequent years. On May 18, 2005 Holden LTD became GM Holden LTD.

New models were built in the 2000s: Viva, Astra, Adventra (based on the Commodore), Vectra, Epica, Rodeo, Colorado (a redesigned Rodeo) and the Cruze.

On August 13, 2013, 1700 employees accepted a three-year wage freeze to avoid chances of a production line closure in 2016. The future of Holden depends on funding from the period between 2016 to 2022.

On December 10, 2013, GM announced Holden will cease manufacturing operations by the end of 2017. After that, Holden will consist of a national sales company, a parts and distribution center and a global design studio.

Holden’s involvement in motor sports began in 1969, winning the Bathurst 1000 29 times. The teams were the Holden Dealer Team from 1969 to 1987 and the Holden Racing Team from 1990 to present.

Image Caption: The Holden 50-2106 utility truck launched in 1951. Credit: Chris Keating/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)