National Museum of Australia curator Dr. Martha Sear on Holden’s first prototype

Amongst the various gadgets within the National Museum of Australia in Canberra is one very precious and iconic piece of Australian historical past: the 1946 Holden 48-215 FX Prototype No. 1 – the oldest Holden in lifestyles. It’s one of 3 automobiles constructed two years prior to the first FX used to be put into manufacturing.

We paid the automobile a talk over with and spoke to the museum’s curator, Dr. Martha Sear. You can listen the interview on the backside of this text, or learn the phrases beneath.

CarAdvice: What is the historical past in the back of the prototypes?

Dr. Martha Sear: Once General Motors used to be going to come to a decision to supply Australia’s personal automobile, they started paintings on it in Detroit in Michigan. They blended brains from Australia and the USA, and so they drew on some designs that had come thru from Chrysler. They advanced the plans and constructed via hand 3 prototype automobiles in Detroit, and that is the first of the 3.

If you’re taking a detailed glance, which you’ll be able to do right here on the museum the place we have now mirrors arrange on the ground, you’ll be able to see the hand-weld marks on the frame and little dimples the place it used to be hammered out via hand.

All the following automobiles that have been produced from this template have been made via the usage of usual manufacturing unit manufacturing strategies. This automobile were made via hand the usage of particular person items of metal being taken via a particularly professional craftsman and tapped and welded into position.

You can without a doubt see the American inspiration.

The designs that Chrysler had get a hold of within the States that this automobile used to be primarily based on used to be rejected as a result of they weren’t observed as large and flashy sufficient for the USA marketplace. In Australia, we have been searching for one thing else – a powerful, flexible automobile that will swimsuit households. Our postwar affluence used to be entering play, so folks have been searching for a automobile that had a couple of makes use of.

What is the historical past of this explicit automobile?

It had an extended and complex lifestyles. It got here to Australia in 1946. The tale is, within the lifeless of night time, the automobiles have been pushed from the port to the manufacturing unit so no one may just see them.

Then they changed into the template for which all of the different Holdens that have been to be produced from. Its lifestyles used to be originally concerned with checking out and used to be then used to make all of the componentry to ascertain how the manufacturing unit processes would paintings, to know the way it may well be the automobile that used to be fitted to Australian prerequisites.

It then had a lifestyles like several usual automobile that were given pushed round on the street. It did have a length within the heart of its lifestyles the place it used to be at a dealership, and it didn’t get so much of consideration at that time.

It used to be very particular, however it wasn’t in a perfect state of restore. Two gents came upon it, knew its importance, and restored it again to its authentic 1948 glory.

What has been the comments from the general public since it’s been on show within the museum?

The passion on this automobile is throughout the roof. It sits at once reverse Phar Lap’s center, which is almost certainly our most well liked object, however this one is catching up.

It’s such an iconic object for someone that loves automobiles, specifically for many who love Holden. It’s the first Australian-made automobile, the automobile that folks aspired to within the ‘50s. People are available in and need to know the place it’s within the museum.

Why can’t we get nearer to the automobile and sit down in it?

Our process is to verify it’s secure for long run generations. When we convey an object into the museum, we’re considering 500 to 1000 years into the longer term. As tempting as it’s, even for me as a curator, to need to get in it and run via give up the gorgeous paint, we will’t do it. We do have some alarms on it.

I see two hubcaps within the exhibit cupboard. What’s the tale in the back of the ones?

When those automobiles have been first introduced out to Australia, the first rush within the manufacturing unit used to be to get automobiles constructed in order that they may well be despatched out for promotion and show. This automobile, specifically, they sought after to get out to sellers and shoppers. But they hadn’t made the hubcaps, in order that they home made two.

They displayed the automobile in a velvet curtain encompass and would put the hubcaps on the facet of the automobile that used to be dealing with out.

How do you take care of the automobile?

It does run. If I had the important thing, which I don’t, as a result of the hot button is in an unspecified location underneath lock and key, the place folks, together with myself, can’t get their palms on.

The conservation group right here loves this automobile, and their pastime is to stay them working. We consider right here that protecting a automobile operational is prime as a result of automobiles are constructed to run. We do all of the paintings on them, and the group has been running on automobiles for a very long time.

For this automobile, a couple of times a 12 months, we do all of the issues that you just do to carrier your automobile. If there ever comes an afternoon when this automobile comes out of the museum, and I don’t know if that can come as it’s so in style, lets actually pressure it away.

Cars are so a lot more than a work of equipment. They’re all of the information and abilities that pass into creating a automobile, and to not point out, the eagerness. So we’re looking to stay that alive up to we’re looking to keep the automobile into the longer term.

The automobile production tale in Australia, the Holden tale, specifically, everybody has been touched via the logo. When we transitioned from the wartime manufacturing financial system right into a postwar financial system, we diverse our production, and that is one of the nice jewels of that generation.

At the doorway, there’s a Holden FJ towing a crimson caravan.

That has a perfect tale. It used to be purchased via a girl named Molly, and he or she lived in Tharwa which is close to Canberra, and he or she purchased it as an alternative for the pony and sulky [a lightweight cart] that she and her husband were the usage of.

Molly stored the automobile meticulously. She took the rugs and blankets and blankets from the pony, and he or she used to position them on the automobile on the finish of the day. I assume it used to be only a addiction to take care of the pony after which to take care of her glossy new automobile.

Molly used it for somewhat a very long time, however as soon as there have been extra automobiles on the street via the ‘60s and ‘70s, it was a bit harder for her to navigate around. To that point, she retired the car, and that’s once we picked it up.

It used to be a ravishing illustration of the FJ that we couldn’t withstand it. It’s a automobile that folks in point of fact connect to.

Click on the Photos tab to peer extra photographs of the Holden show.


Listen to the interview with Dr. Martha Sear beneath in regards to the 1946 Holden 48-215 FX Prototype No 1. 

Listen to the Celebrating the Australian Holden podcast particular beneath, and catch extra like this at


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National Museum of Australia curator Dr. Martha Sear on Holden’s first prototype

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