Back to September 1953 the newspaper front pages screamed the headline "NEW HOLDEN!" It was, of course, for FJ model. Back then the FJ was big news, and the even bigger news was the new luxury model called the "Special". Here was a car that was a real step up from its spartan predecessor, the 48-215, known to one and all as the FX.
For the first time Holden acknowledged the increasing aspirations of Australian car buyers. The Special was special, with its sparkling full width chrome grille similar to that on the `53 Chevrolet, contemporary two tone paint and discreet chrome fins on the rear mudguards.
The interior was also given a make-over. Leather replaced vinyl on the seats and arm rests graced the front doors .Rear passengers had straps to grab on to when the FJ went around anything that looked remotely like a corner.
While these features might not seem much by today's standards, they were very attractive to mid 1950s buyers Previously secret photos show that Holden had been planning the FJ since January 1950. They developed many styling ideas for the grille and rear fins. Another idea was to extend the width of the rear window and wrap around the rear pillars.
That Holden held off introducing the FJ for three years says more about the high demand for the FX than anything else. The company was selling every FX it could make. As long as there were wait lists, a new model was not needed. So why is it that the FJ has become such a beloved car?
For my money it was all about freedom. For many families who bought an FJ it was probably their first car. An FJ in the driveway meant the freedom to roam anywhere, to go on holidays, to commute to work and to simply "go for a drive", anytime.
And when an FJ was bought second hand in the 1960s by the growing boomer generation, it was a cheap and strong freedom machine to escape your parents! What more could you ask of a car? Most FJs ended their existence on the scrap heap.
Some became cheap race cars, especially on speedway. In the late sixties I remember being at Morisset Speedway and nearly every car in main event (50 of them!) was an FJ Holden. Those that have survived are now pampered. Good sedans go for around $20,000, while pristine Utes fetch beyond $30,000.
David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au