In what could be termed the age-old question, one key aspect of any given Holden’s history is in connection to where it was made. Whilst much may be documented about the history of a car after it was delivered shiny and new to its first owner, little is often known about the beginning of life for a Holden.
The process by which an end product rolls off an assembly line is quite involved. In the case of the Holden it can be broken down into two distinct activities – manufacture of the body and final assembly of the vehicle. In many cases these two operations occurred at different locations, often in different states.
The lead up to production of the first Holden car had seen GM-H establish vehicle assembly plants in all mainland states of Australia. The sole manufacturing plant was at Woodville, South Australia, having been established in 1923. Vehicle bodies produced there were then sent to the various assembly plants for final assembly into complete cars. The initial Holden cars (including the pilot run vehicles) were assembled at Fishermans Bend in Victoria. Once volume production had begun in 1949, the remaining plants in New South Wales (Pagewood), Queensland (Fortitude Valley), South Australia (Birkenhead) and Western Australia (Mosman Park) commenced final assembly.
In late 1952 a second manufacturing plant came on-line, this time at Pagewood in New South Wales. This marked the first occasion where complete assembly of a Holden – both body and vehicle – occurred at the one plant in one location.
1956 saw Fishermans Bend assembly draw to a close coinciding with the opening of a new plant at Dandenong where both manufacturing of bodies and final assembly of vehicles took place. Holden bodies were now being produced at three locations – New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
1962 saw the new Elizabeth vehicle assembly plant open and Birkenhead close. In 1965 the manufacturing plant at Elizabeth came on-line and like at Dandenong and Pagewood, complete assembly of Holdens now occurred in South Australia at the one location.
The final phase of manufacturing was at the new Acacia Ridge plant in Queensland. Vehicle assembly came on-line initially in early 1966 when the Fortitude Valley plant closed. Body assembly commenced later in the year so that by 1967, Holden production had settled down into the system that remained in place until September 1972 when vehicle assembly in Western Australia ended.