For thousands of baby boomers, the big, bold familiar FJ front grille is emblematic of a less complicated era. For others, the FJ is happily remembered as the first car the family ever owned.
Powerful, rugged and great value for money, the FJ was essentially a face-lifted version of the first-ever Holden, the 48-215, popularly called the FX. Known as the ‘new look’ Holden, the second series of Australia’s ‘own car’ sold in unprecedented numbers and offered a new level of mobility, freedom and privacy.
In tune with the times, which saw post-war austerity overtaken by the growth of the consumer society, the FJ ushered in the first deluxe Holden, the Special. It sported more bright metal body decoration, including tiny tail fins with built-in reflectors, and offered extras such as leather trim, armrests, cigarette lighter, rear passenger assist straps, chrome window winders and two-tone colour combinations.
The more spartan Standard model was praised for its six-passenger roominess, family-sized luggage compartment and PVC upholstery, while the FJ Business sedan was aimed at the commercial market and “specially equipped to meet the particular needs of business and country users...” Both of these models were cheaper than their FX predecessors.
A Utility was also offered, and the first Holden Panel Van made its debut two months after the FJ’s October 1953 launch. Utility-based, with an extended roof and an extra upper tailgate, the Panel Van found ready acceptance in a booming market, which saw the new Holdens snapped up at record rates, entrenching GMH in the number one sales position.
By 1954, FJ Holdens were being produced at assembly plants nationwide at the rate of 250 per day and export shipments to New Zealand had commenced.
FJ sedans remained in production from October 1953 to June 1956.
FJ Holden facts
• Total number built: 169,969
• Models: Standard Sedan, Business Sedan, Special Sedan, Panel Van and Utility
• Engine: 2.15 litre/132.5 cu. in OHV six-cylinder
• Power Output: 45kW/60bhp @3800rpm
• Transmission: Three-speed manual gearbox, synchromesh on 2nd and 3rd. Column mounted shift lever
• Dimensions (basic sedan): Length 4408mm; Wheelbase 2616mm; Width 1702mm
• Fuel tank: 43 litres/9.5 gallons