After WWII, however, conspicuously national car names were overlooked in favour of numerical and alphabetical model designations and ‘glamorous’ American names. Which in retrospect seems appropriate in those first days of American world cultural and economic hegemony. 

The first Holden was simply called the 48-215 reflecting the year of the car’s first manufacture, 1948, and the model, no. 215. All very workmanlike for a country recently emerged from the rigours of war. 

After that, there was the FJ and a bewildering array of model designations that responded to no apparent alphabetical order. Consider the following from Holden – the FE was followed by the FC, FB, EK, EJ, EH, HD, HR and HK.

Other local car names were simply borrowed from the American parent company – Ford had its local version of the Fairlane while Holden borrowed the rather grand Statesman de Ville badge from Cadillac nomenclature and Caprice from Chevrolet. 

Even British cars appealed to the Australian taste for American names. While in its home market it was known as the Austin A95 Westminster, the Australian version of the car, the Morris Marshal, was so named because of associations with American military power in the Pacific. Despite this name, the car was given an Australian touch – a boomerang motif was screwed onto its bonnet!

And then came a change. As multinational companies entrenched themselves in every world market local references were used to legitimise the foreign cultural imports. The British Austin released an Australian-built Mini K, a model designation corresponding with the kangaroo decals plastered on the windows. Austin also had its Tasman and Kimberley while Morris released the Nomad. 

Local companies also responded to this new nationalism. The small Australian company Bolwell gave two of its sportscars indigenous words as model names – the Nagari and Ilinga.

Finally, in the late 1960s, Holden suddenly began using indigenous words for their model names. The company’s elegant new 1968 coupe was badged Monaro. An indigenous word close enough to the American parent’s Camaro to serve both nationalist and American tastes. 

A year later, the word Torana (meaning ‘to fly’ in one of the Australian indigenous languages) was applied to the small British Vauxhall Viva-based Holden. This car was followed in 1982 by the poorly developed local version of the GM mid-size world car.

Even though later models were much better developed, the car’s name, taken from the indigenous word, Camira, meaning ‘bad wind’ seemed to doom it. Is this perhaps the first case where a car’s badging also provided the buyer with an ominous warning?

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