Here is an EK Holden daily driver I found in Orange, New South Wales, Australia.
The ‘EK’ model was on the market from mid-1961 to mid-1962. It was a slightly facelifted version of the ‘FB’, which had been available for the preceding 18 months. Note the seemingly random Holden model naming system. Australian cars don’t have an annual model change, and they are usually dated by the year of manufacture, not model year. Holdens (and local Ford Falcons and Valiants) also had a code name to distinguish the model, as production was not confined to any particular year. If the car in these pictures was made in 1961, it would be a ‘1961 EK Holden’. EKs made the year after would be ‘1962 EK Holdens’, but they were superseded midyear by ‘1962 EJ Holdens’.
The changes to the EK over the previous model were mainly very cosmetic or unseen, such as the windscreen wipers being powered by an electric motor instead of a vacuum pump. The big difference was the availability, for the first time, of an automatic transmission. The automatic was marketed as the ‘Hydramatic’, but I believe it was the three-speed with torque converter ‘Rotohydramatic’. The only engine available was Holden’s OHV ‘grey’ motor. This was based on the original Holden engine, used since the first Holden, the ‘48/215’ (often called ‘FX’), was introduced in 1948. In the EK it was enlarged to all of 138 ci. It was entirely conventional; similar to other GM OHV engines in its basic configuration.
It was pleasant to drive, with a nice torque curve, but was quickly becoming a liability, as the Valiant (sold in Australia under the Chrysler name) had the 225 ci slant six, and the Ford Falcon would soon be available with a 170 ci engine. The Holden grey motor was replaced by the ‘red’ motor (of 149 ci or 179 ci) in the EH model of 1963.
This EK Holden is a ‘Special’ wagon with standard three-on-the-tree and plain Jane grey paint. The Special was the deluxe model with chrome trim and a few, very basic, interior ‘refinements’. Also available was the ‘Standard’ model with none of the above. The grey paint of this car was commonly seen on government and other fleet cars, but I think they were more likely to be the Standards rather than Specials.
EKs were available in the usual Holden body styles: Sedan, wagon, ute and panel van. Note that it is badged as a Station ‘Sedan’, and that at this stage Holden was still using the same rear doors on its wagons as on the sedans. (In my opinion, subsequent Holden wagon bodies were the most neatly integrated 4 door wagons, anywhere.) It sports an accessory sun visor, wheel trims and external mirror, and the registration is not original. I can’t account for that multi-hued interior. Bryce will know.
Prior to the arrival of the Ford Falcon, Holden had had a virtually unassailable hold on the Australian market. The Falcon took a while to catch on, as many Aussies were suspicious of the newcomer, and its suspension gained a reputation for being fragile (i.e. not up to unpaved bush roads). I think, however, that GM-Holden gave Ford the
leg up it needed with the dated FB model, and even more so by replacing it with the barely changed EK.
Up until the introduction of the Falcon, GM-Holden could afford to be complacent; it was effortlessly raking in the millions and had no need to invest heavily in revised product. The result is the FB/EK, with long-in-the-tooth mechanicals and dated styling. Either GM-Holden wasn’t talking to head office or (more likely) they just didn’t care,
but they came to regret it. They would remedy the mechanical and styling shortcomings with the next few models, but in the meantime the Falcon had the chance it needed to establish itself, and that car went on to become almost as much an institution as the Holden.
Of course, all this will end in the next few years as GM, Ford and Toyota follow Chrysler, Nissan and BMC/Leyland in ending production of their Australian models. It will be the end of an era and the much-loved ‘parallel universe’ will become but a memory.
I like this car .
there is a LOT of 55-57 Chevy in this. all three years, just in a smaller scale.
I see that too. Like an alternative-universe Tri-Five.
I see a lot of 1957 Pontiac in the taillights and instrument panel.
I don’t see the GM in this one. If I didn’t know it was a Holden, I would guess AMC or Studebaker. I want one!
I’ve never seen a Holden in person. I may have seen one, but because of re-badging as a Chevrolet or something, I couldn’t tell that it was a Holden car.
Holden actually exported cars in this era to a lot of Pacific rim countries
And some ’57 Buick Caballero with that rear roofline.
+1 Early Victor looks in there.Count me as a fan
Front end very ’56 Chevy while the rear view looks very ’57 Pontiac. The middle section? Very much late 50s Opel (Kadett?). This car also looks somewhat like a late 50s Rambler.
I’m trying to imagine driving a car where the Ford 170 cubic inch 6 would be a powerhouse in comparison. In 1960 my Dad bought a Ford Country Sedan with a 6 cylinder engine (I’m guessing the 170?) and regretted making the decision until that woefully underpowered car could be replaced….nearly 6 years later.
Even as a “step up” model this car looked like a stripper. Ford and Chrysler must have been making decent money after introducing the Falcon and Valiant in 1962-62?
I see a Checker Marathon mixed in there as well. Very cool find!
That wagon of your Dad’s probably had the old 223 six in it. Not exactly a powerhouse to haul that big wagon around. The 170 was used in Falcons ( US) , Fairlanes and early Mustangs. I have sad memories of the 170 which was a fragile gutless wonder. In college I owned a ’62 Fairlane with that motor and it proved to to hold up to the rigors of a hauling around a 19 year old driver. I blew it up twice without really abusing it. In fact I was just driving down the highway when it happened both times. The mechanic at the Ford garage we had it towed to the first time told my Dad that the 170 was not an engine for me to be driving. I loved the car but traded it in on a ’64 Galaxie because of the weak engine. The Galaxie turned out to be a bad one too. But that is another story.
Nice find, Bootiebike. Am seeing more FB/EK wagons than sedans here in Melb at the moment. FYI, the lettering system is a complex method of identifying the anticipated first year of manufacture. It’s explained within the comments here;
The instrument panel looks RHD Pontiac.
I love how Holden couldn’t be bothered to make special rear doors for the wagon/estate versions.
Not many manufactures bothered to do a wagon only version f the rear doors. Paul did an article on it at one point. Even when Wagons were the family hauler of choice they still did not sell in large enough numbers to warrant different window frames and windows for the rear doors. There are also some cases where the entire rear section of the wagon was carried over while the sedans got new quarters and tail lights. The most glaring example of modern times would the last generation of the “real” Taurus which kept the 99 back half through the end compete with the weird taillight treatment and oval rear window. Granted it was well past the Wagon’s hey day but it is a dramatic example.
That’s ironic considering they did with the previous generation FE-FC wagons.
I expect there are red seats under the covers, which would match the door panels that look normal – this was the ‘Special’ after all!
The Holden was the Goldilocks-size between the larger American cars and smaller British cars, and prior to the Falcon and Valiant coming on the scene held around 50% of the market. That is pretty incredible for a single car really, the only comparable car I can think of would be the Model T.
Do I see shades of the ’55 Buick in the 4th picture of the wagon (rear quarter panel)??
That was my first thought about the rear end too.
It’s unforgivable that Australian car makers would end production in Australia. Sadly, it’s the same here in North America. Much of what we buy aren’t being produced here in the USA or Canada.
actually many cars available for sale in America are in fact made in America. Just not by American manufacturers.
Exactly! Why the hell not? I believe there should be a balance between American car manufacturers in this country and foreign car manufacturers in this country. I also believe that we should be allowed to export our products to other countries, rather than only importing from other countries into this country.
Jason, please don’t flaunt your ignorance repeatedly. The US is the world’s third largest exporter, and solidly the largest based on population (per capita).
We are absolutely allowed to export our cars and other goods, and do so. The extent to which buyers in other countries want to buy our cars is another question. Please don’t spout off about import restrictions, which don’t exist, with very rare exceptions.
I would respectfully disagree. Officially yes but in practice you will find you have to cross all sorts of red tape in other (car-producing) countries if you wish to import foreign cars, to wit the joint venture rule in China, whereby they can learn about your technology and then copy it or some rules which are applied more stringently to foreign cars (S. Korea, Japan). And then there are countries which still restrict import by imposing high import duties (India). What I would also like to question is how much local content US-made cars actually have these days and how much is imported from abroad to be incorporated into the vehicles. The “whys” I can answer but then we will go into the political realm which, if I am not greatly mistaken, you wish to avoid on your site, so I won’t…
Paul is right on about the buying preference in other countries wanting to buy American cars.
The model range of North American-sourced vehicles sold in Europe have been expanded and contracted many times over the years. The focus here is the official offerings (not gray import) by the domestic manufacturers (The Big Three: Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors) in the United States. Chevrolet-branded Daewoo does not count here.
I live in Munich and have this observation: the American vehicles made by Big Three have been and still are considered ‘niche’ to a large extent in Germany today.
Jeep is very popular and common sight here today. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Chrysler did so well in selling its vehicles, namely Voyager, Le Baron, Neon, 300, and others. Since the merge with Fiat in 2011, Chrysler Voyager and 300 are sold as Lancia while Dodge was eliminated from the European market.
Ford had exported many first and second generation Explorer to Europe in the 1990s. They were well received and very popular. That is until the fiasco with Firestone tyres and Explorer’s serious design flaw that caused the sales to nosedive a big time. The first generation Windstar did well initially. Then the export to Europe dried up for a number of years until first-ever global Mustang is launched in Europe last year.
General Motors used to sell wide range of models from five divisions (GMC being an exception) in the 1980s. All of them had been converted to meet ECE regulations by a third-party conversion firm. In the 1990s, GM started to consolidate the model range from five to Cadillac and Chevrolet as to reduce the ‘confusion and overlapping similarity’. Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac were eliminated from the European market.
In the 1990s, Chevrolet offered almost all of its North American model range in Europe except Suburban and Silverado. Some are from other divisions rebranded as Chevrolet like Oldsmobile Alero and Pontiac Transport. Today, only Camaro and Corvette (both are niche vehicles) are offered.
Cadillac has struggled since then to establish its presence in Europe as a serious player in the crowded luxury market, but lack of effective marketing and no diesel engine option doomed its sales. I cannot remember the last time I saw the Cadillac advertisement in German magazines and newspapers. Germans still have this image of Cadillac as Yankee tanks with voluptuous bodies and ostentatious chrome work along with big displacement V8 motors.
On the flip side, the Americans have to make do with very limited range of engine and gearbox choices as well as body styles. Station wagons are more of unobtanium in the United States. Diesel engine option for the passenger cars and SUVs is as elusive as looking for an unicorn.
The bottom line: the manufacturers have to consider the cost of engineering and return of investment as well as meeting buyer’s preference in each market as motivation when determining which vehicle to sell in the market . There’s no such a thing as ‘one size fits all’…
Oliver Twist, I am aware of everything you said but I did not (and would not) include Europe in this, as nowadays the EU plays on board. In any case GM, Fiat Chrysler and Ford do not need to sell US-made models in the EU given their parents and subsidiaries. My comment is aimed at other countries with a motor industry where US-made cars would not necessary be unwelcome. Again, in theory you can import into those countries, in practice your life is made difficult.
T.Turtle: I wasn’t talking abut the specifics of auto-exportation. I was addressing his comment I also believe that we should be allowed to export our products to other countries, rather than only importing from other countries into this country. which seems to cover all products, not just cars.
The reality is that even if the world were a perfectly free market, I doubt the US would be exporting substantially larger amounts of its cars. They’re more expensive to produce here, and most of them are designed for conditions that are specific to the US and its tastes in cars and trucks. Exports to Europe show that very clearly: certain models have some interest, but forget about selling the bulk of our cars overseas. Who would want a Malibu? A Ford Fusion? It’s already made overseas. A Camry? Good luck with that.
What I don’t understand is why it’s so expensive to produce cars here in this country and then sell it here. Call me naive, but I would think it’d be less expensive buy something locally, or made in your own country, than to have it imported from another country.
Which is exactly why the overwhelming majority of cars sold by “import brands” are built in North America. Did you know that Nissan builds more cars in North America than any other company?
Are you still under the delusion that “import brand” cars are mostly actually imported?? It seems to me you need to do a bit of reading on the reality of the global auto market in the 21st century. It’s not 1970 anymore. 🙂
Another point is there is plenty of red tape for selling cars in the US too. When the VW Amarok pickup was launched, VW said they would have to sell 100,000 per year to make it viable due to the cost of getting it on the US market.
Jason it seems that basically all the US market compact cars are built in the USA barring Hyundai/Kia, there is not much to complain about there! The Chevrolet Sonic may be the only subcompact built there and it will always be cheaper to build a car in somewhere like Mexico or other less-developed countries.
Admittedly a fair number of cars are being produced in Mexico and it appears Canada has been abandoned but if you really look you will see that Mexico covers the cheap end and the U.S. is getting a lot of high end models. Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus build cars here. Certainly a preferable “tradeoff”.
I consider automotive patriotism a hopeless Blind Alley, too complicated for “Buy American” to have meaning anymore, given how multinational & cross-linked the industry has become. Just buy the brand you prefer & never mind who owns it.
Why should we care whether Detroit exports or not? Just so we can boast about it? That’s for shareholders to worry about (though one could argue that US taxpayers now have invested in GM, but I don’t think that’s the motive).
It really does make one’s head spin. I currently own an “American” car (’97 Ford Crown Victoria) that was produced in Canada, a “Swedish” car (’88 Volvo 780 Bertone) that was produced in Italy, and a Korean car that was actually produced in South Korea (’12 Kia Forte Koup). I’ve also owned two other Canadian-made Fords (’91 Crown Vic, ’03 Marauder) and an American-made Honda (’91 Accord). So it’s really hard to define a car as belonging to any particular nationality. And sometimes things switch depending on percentage of content too…
Good examples. In formal logic, asking about a car’s nationality qualifies as a “Complex Question.”
BMW and Mercedes export a lot of cars too.
What I don’t understand is why it’s less expensive to produce our cars elsewhere and sell it here in this country, than it is to produce that same product here in this country and sell it here.
The auto trans was a 4 speed the feeble 75hp Holden needed all the gears it could get the trans was modified for the EH and the 115 hp red 179 in 63 and reduced to a 3 speed, Yet another car Ive owned though not the Ek I had an FB for a few hours i drove it around then gave it to a mate whos car was dying,
A friend in Tassie has a mint EK wagon 96,000 miles since new and it smells like a new car inside one little patch of wear on the drivers armrest is the only blemish on the entire car
I remember what those early Holden HydraMatics sounded like when the cars started off
A lot of engine noise initially then a sound like they were in top gear way too soon with a labouring sound.
The newly introduced Valiant 225 TorqueFlite must have been a revolution back in the day. They sounded like a modern car
My father had a succession of Holden Special sedans – a new one every year from 1956 until 1965. Company cars were changed annually back then. His EK/FE-s were two tone versions, usually with a white roof which was a very popular option here in the warmer northern states of Australia in the days before air conditioning became common. His final Holden was an EH, which he really liked. However, Holden replaced that model with the infamous HD – Dad changed to a Ford Falcon XP and stuck with Fords until his eventual change over twenty years later to BMW’s. I dont have much recollection of the Holdens but it seems they were always reliable transport – and we did lots of driving back then on pretty basic Australian roads. It;s funny in a way that now that the roads and cars are better than ever, we fly between cities much more often than driving. Back then we routinely drove from Brisbane to Sydney and beyond, on narrow – sometimes unsealed – roads in these now considered to be underpowered cars, without any of the DVD players or other in-car entertainment systems that seem necessary for a 15 minute drive these days. Somehow we survived and I think we are richer for the experience.
“It;s funny in a way that now that the roads and cars are better than ever, we fly between cities much more often than driving” – well, you have authorities which are obsessed by ridiculously low speed limit which is enforced very strictly. Travelling by car between, say, Melbourne and Sydney would make sense if you could cruise at 160 Km/H but according to my understanding this would get you locked behind bars…
You would have your license suspended and in some states your car would be impounded.
“The newly introduced Valiant 225 TorqueFlite must have been a revolution back in the day. They sounded like a modern car.”
Makes you think?
I should have said, Modern by 1962 standards
The alleged FJ to EH Code System that I once read about in an Australian Car Magazine about 20 years ago 🙂
A = 0, B = 9, C = 8, D = 7, E = 6, F = 5, G = 4, H = 3, J = 2, K = 1
“Planned” year of introduction: FJ = 52 (actually released 53), FE = 56, FC = 58, FB = 59 (actually released 60), EK = 61, EJ = 62, EH = 63
There’s some Volvo rear door dilemma going on there.
Call it ignorance, call it what you want. I’m just stating what I see. I’m not against importing cars from other countries to the USA, nor am I against having import cars built and sold here in the USA. What I am against is that we’re not exporting our cars to other countries. It costs us a lot of money to build a car. If we could export a good quality product to meet that country’s needs. I would think that we’d make money if we were allowed to build our products and then sell to those who want/need our products.
That’s for industry executives to decide, not outsiders like us, who lack their proprietary cost data. It may be that they decided they would LOSE money by trying to export to certain markets. There could be any number of reasons why.
The motor vehicle industry has moved away from straight exports from the home country into regional or local production for local/regional markets, overall. It isn’t just because of costs but also because of efficacy in tailoring the product to local tastes and needs.
You see all of the major manufacturers doing this. For example, GM builds a local Chinese market only car for the Chinese market. Nissan and Toyota have models designed for developing countries that are also built there.
Yes, manufacturers will still export fully-built up models from one country to another but they usually will occupy a niche market or need rather than a mass market product. Case in point: 80-90% of the cars Toyota sells in North America are built in North America. They might import something like the Land Cruiser, which is built in Japan but sells in relatively low numbers compared with locally-built Camrys and Corollas.
I think it’s ALL about cost. The decision about market-specific models comes down to whether it’s more cost-effective to customize a given model to a market, make a derivative model (e.g. Camry XV50), then whether to use part of an existing home factory for it, or build one overseas for the purpose. That’s what suits get paid the big bucks to figure out.
Back when cars were simpler & less regulated, perhaps the decision was easier, but even so, Ford finally had to create a new model from scratch for the British & German markets in the ’30s, & build them locally, since the Model T fell into a larger tax-HP bracket.
An honest, attractive car, though it does borrow from a range of mid 50’s American products in styling. And I actually like the fact that the rear door silhouette comes straight from the sedan; it gives a very interesting character to the c-pillar. Reminiscent in a way of the Rambler Rebel/Ambassador wagons of the late 50’s and early 60’s, though their c-pillar slanted the opposite way due to roofline.
I bought a Mexican VW Beetle in…1986 IIRC , it was very well made indeed , just as well made as any German VW I’ve ever owned .
I nearly bought a Mexican Chevy pickup truck as the same time as they were cheap and built rugged .