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This hub cap is from a Holden 48-215 that was the first mass-produced Australian-made car and was launched by prime minister Ben Chifley on 29 November 1948. The Holden FX cost £733, which was equal to two years' wages for the average worker at the time. It was hugely popular and 120,402 vehicles were manufactured between 1948 and 1953. By the time of its launch, 18,000 people had already paid a deposit to buy a Holden FX.
The Holden FX was developed after prime minister Ben Chifley issued a challenge to the Australian automotive industry in 1944 to produce a car that would be entirely manufactured in Australia. Chifley felt the expansion of the car industry would contribute to the nation's economic reconstruction in the post-Second World War period. Prior to this, local manufacturers such as Holden built car bodies that were fitted to chassis imported from overseas.
The Holden FX was designed for local driving conditions. It was a six-cylinder four-door six-seater sedan that featured a rugged frame and a powerful but fuel-efficient engine, an important characteristic because petrol rationing, introduced during the Second World War, remained in force until 1950. The Holden FX was developed in conjunction with the USA's General Motors, with whom Holden had merged in 1931 to form General Motors-Holden's.
The popularity of the FX helped establish Holden cars as an Australian institution that by 1958 accounted for 43 per cent of car sales in the country. The FX embodied Australian dreams of prosperity, particularly after the austerity of the Second World War. Its release coincided with an increase in car ownership, up from one in eight people in 1948 to about one in four by 1956. Holden sales were aided by the introduction of trade tariffs to protect the domestic car industry.