Holden etymology: What does its name mean? Who is it named after?

Famed for being Australia’s Own Car, Holden will stop local production in 2017, but what does its name mean, and where does it come from?


The company was founded in 1856 by James Alexander Holden as a saddle maker. In 1908 it started venturing into the automotive sector, first with upholstery, then motorcycle sidecars, and then in 1919 producing vehicle bodies for all manner of brands, including future competitors Austin, Chrysler and Hillman.

GM bought out Holden in 1931. At this stage, the combined firm was still locally assembling cars using a mix of local parts and imported chassis, and from a variety of brands within GM’s corporate umbrella.

In 1948 GM launched a government sanctioned almost fully locally produced car, officially known as the Holden 48-215.

The Holden name was chosen to honour not the company’s founder, but his grandson, Sir Edward Holden, who established the car body building business in 1919.




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Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Editor-at-large — Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]


Holden etymology: What does its name mean? Who is it named after?