Holden History

The Holden brand is well known in Australasia. It is a subsidiary of American behemoth General Motors (GM), and many of the Holden’s offerings also have a GM equivalent, either through independent production or rebadging of the parent company vehicles.

Holden was started in 1856 as a saddlery business by James A. Holden, a recent immigrant to Australia from England. After a merger and inclusion of James’ son into the family business, car production began in 1908. The vehicles are currently manufactured in Elizabeth, southern Australia, with engine manufacture located in Port Melbourne. There was once a New Zealand plant, but it closed down in 1990. Holden started exports in 1954 with the FJ to New Zealand, and currently its largest export market is the Middle East.

Holden has a wide offering of cars, designed to fill as many market niches as possible. Again, this is because of the vast resources offered by GM. The company also co-owns South Korea’s Daewoo Motors on behalf of GM. Because of slow sales of its traditional large-car forte in Australia, Holden has also offered badge-engineered Nissan, Suzuki, Chevrolet and Toyota models for sale, and has also expanded its international sales. Some Holden cars, like the Monaro and Commodore, have gained a near cult-like following in Australia and New Zealand.

Holden Models

Holden’s offerings in New Zealand include the Astra hatchback, which is a rebadged Opel Astra. The name is so well-known and respected, especially in Europe, that Holden’s marketing boffins saw no point in changing it. Next up is the Cruze, which is essentially the Chevrolet Cruze, name also unchanged. Next is the Caprice, a large sedan, and the Barina hatchback, which is the Chevrolet Aveo in other markets. Also available is the Calais, an exciting large luxury sedan only available with a 6-speed auto, and the Captiva, an SUV to challenge the likes of Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV, available with either 5 or 7 seats. The Colorado is a workhorse pickup truck that can be ordered as a dual-cab. Then comes the hallowed Commodore, a large sport sedan available in 3.0, 3.6 and even 6.0-litre engines. Next up is the Epica, a midsize sedan, and the Statesman, a large sedan whose history is closely linked to that of the Commodore. Lastly is the Holden Ute, a coupe utility based on the Commodore platform.

Looking at buying a Holden? Check the vehicle history of any Holden by entering its number plate in the field above.