March 24, 2009

Holden FE, FC, FB and EK

A little history

For long Australians had wanted a real national car, but had to content themselves with imported British and American vehicles. An early attempt, the Southern Cross, went nowhere when its principal promoter, aviator Charles Kingsford Smith, disappeared during an attempt at a record flight between England and Australia, in November 1935. Holden, a GM subsidiary, finally took the honour of building the first Australian car in 1948. In a fashion similar to what we have seen regarding the Ford Vedette, the Holden 48/215 was based on an aborted project for a downsized post-war Chevrolet, though the Holden management’s initial desire was to design the car in Australia.

Eight years later, the bulbous silhouette of the original Holden had grown old. A brand-new automobile was launched in July 1956 and, once again, seemed like a standard American car in reduction. Engine was the same 2.2-litre inline six that was fitted to all Holdens since their introduction, but output was now up to 70 bhp. Named the FE, the new car sold so well that a brand-new factory had to be built at Dandenong, in Victoria state. Again following an American practice, Holden would retire its car after only six years in production despite many regular facelifts (May 1958, January 1960, May 1961) which gave birth respectively to the FC, the FB (note Holden’s strange habit of naming the successive generations of its car backward) and the EK. In fact, the finned and chromed-laden FB was virtually a new car.

By the end of the Fifties, thanks to this line of cars, Holden had come to dominate the domestic market – half of the new vehicles sold every year were built by the company. A new model, the sleeker EJ, was unveiled in July 1962, though the commercial vehicles based on it would wait until January 1963.

About the models

Model: Holden FE Business
Year: 1956
Maker: Ixo
Scale: 1/43
Distributed by: Altaya as no.25 of its Taxis du Monde press series
Acquired: new with neither box nor stand (probably a production overrun or quality control reject), in December 2006, in Hong Kong, S.A.R.

Here comes a taxi from Sydney. I actually suppose it's a Business, this mid-range trim being particularly popular with taxi operators. It's indeed an original car, but unfortunately Ixo did a really poor job when it tried to reproduce the car, which has a strange look, particularly in its rear half. I won't give it more than 7/20.



Model: Holden FC Special
Year: 1958
Maker: Trax
Scale: 1/43
Distributed by: Trax, "Opal" series
Acquired: brand new, in February 2007, in Shenzhen, China

When it comes to Australian cars reproduced in die-casts, Trax certainly is the reference. I'm glad I have purchased this one for much lesser than the whopping price usually asked. The model is splendid throughout. In addition to the front doors, the bonnet and the boot can be opened, the former revealing a nice - for such a small scale - engine. Though I'm not fond of opening parts in 1/43 scale, Trax has been able to adjust each and every one of them so well that nothing is visible when they're closed. Just great. Let's give a 16/20 to this little marvel.





Restidiecast said...

Hi Laurent, this is a very good looking model by Trax, very nice vintage car!

lorenzo721 said...

Oh Resti, you're really unearthing VERY old posts! Thanks for your comments! :)