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1960 - 1970

Ford Falcon
Holden Premier

The 1960’s saw the 6 cylinder cars take over the majority market share from the previously popular smaller 4 cylinder cars (made famous by companies such as Volkswagen and Morris Motors Ltd). The 60’s brought about the era of the muscle cars manufactured by companies such as Ford and Holden in Australia, and imports such as the Ford Mustang were also popular. However, there was a Mini car revival by 1961 with the BMC Mini being released, this made Japanese car manufacturers try to break into the Australian car market by releasing smaller cars such as the Mazda R360. This reappearance of small cars during the early years of the 1960’s was also tried by European manufacturers. The small cars were popular with the women but the blokes loved the muscle cars, women started to buy cars around this time as they became more independent. However, the iconic cars of the 1960’s in Australia were the larger ‘Muscle cars’.

The Fall of Ford

Ford was beginning to lose customers by the end of the 1950’s due to the popularity of Holden. This was largely due to Ford importing the parts needed to build their cars. The parts were heavily taxed and they were unable to match the price of Holden’s Australian made cars. After a few unsuccessful attempts at matching Holden’s low prices, Ford decided to build a car manufacturing plant in Australia and the car they chose to produce was the highly popular North American Ford Falcon. The Falcon was released in 1960 and became an instant hit, however this was not to last. Rural roads affected the car and it wasn’t until 1961 that they added a utility edition of the falcon.

The first few years of the 60’s saw Holden release some now iconic cars into the Australian car market. 1961 saw the EK Holden released, followed the next year by the EJ. The millionth car to be produced by Holden was a special edition gold EJ Premier. The next year, 63’, saw the relase of probably the most iconic Australian made car of the century, the Holden EH. With record sales again that year, Holden saw employees reached nearly 25,000 and the Holden EH became their best selling model, with 250,000 sold. Compared to the Ford Falcon, Holden’s were pre-perceived as being built to withstand the rural roads and were an instant hit with buyers.

The Rise of Holden

By the mid 1960’s Holden led car sales in Australia by almost 3 to 1 over Ford, and released the new HD model in 1965. This was the first major upgrade since the release of the Holden EH. For the first time, the HD came equipped with disk brakes. The very next year another icon of the 60’s was released, the Holden HR. This year was the first year that seat belts were fitted in all models, Holden being the first Australian manufacturer to do so. Also that year, other safety features were added including windscreen washers, a shatterproof interior rear view mirror and reversing lights. Holden was the leading exporter of cars having 56% of the market that year.

The end of the 60’s saw Holden make 3 more models starting with its first ever small car, based on the Vauxhall Viva, HB Torana in 1967. The following year a further two models were released, the Holden Monaro and Brougham. Other vehicles including Honda and Mazda were released in the 1968 however failed to overpower the Holden Models available on the market. Once again by 1969 Holden had reached another land mark, its 2 millionth car, a Gold HK Brougham. By the end of the era, car safety was a heavy feature with plants opening in Australia and now the challenge for manufacturers was to make thrilling but safe cars heading into the 1970’s.