The Holden FJ is a classic piece of Australian memorabilia, manufactured between 1953 and 1957 and still available second-hand in reasonable quantities. The Holden FJ was a mid-size car and built along the lines of the very successful Holden FX models. It was available in four-door sedan or two-door ute and panel van format. The sedan was made in 3 formats: the Standard Sedan, the Business Sedan, and later the Sedan Special. There was also a station wagon version made but only 24 vehicles were produced.
The old Holden cars are typical 1950s-style vehicles. The monocoque body shape featured a large bulbous bonnet, with substantial curving wings and wheel arches. The front grille had a strong horizontal design that replaced the older EJ style with its vertical bars. The front was also heavily decorated with outlandish chrome bumpers with overriders, split windscreen, and striking domed hubcaps. The rear end is substantially wide with an access door rather than an opening boot, taillight fins, and again, prominent chrome bumpers with a centrally mounted rear stop light.
The interior is a little Spartan looking when compared to modern car dashboards, but it is definitely of its time. It features a pressed steel dash with simple instrument cluster, large Holden steering wheel, and glovebox.
The sedan had a luxury model produced, known as the ‘Holden Special.’ It was an upgrade of its FJ predecessor and the entry-level FJ model. It had more elaborate styling and decoration as well as higher levels of comfort and equipment. In 1955, the series had a facelift and gave buyers additional options in trim level and paint work.
While Holden produced over 250,000 vehicles in 3 styles and 3 sedan trims, owners down the years have customised the range to leave a long and varied legacy of vehicles based around the factory models. Today on the roads and in car auctions, you can find stretch limousines, works panel vans, and convertibles.
The cars were fitted with either old 2.5L straight 6 grey engines or the slightly larger 2170 cc, another straight 6. At the time, these were linked to a manual, 3-speed gearbox, and at full stretch, they were capable of putting out 45kW of power and a torque rating of 135Nm, which could take the car from 0-100km/h in around 20 seconds.
The mechanical refinements kept the successful working parts from the Holden EJ and added others that gave it a better level of performance. The things that Holden kept in the FJ meant it had good ground clearance, low maintenance, and produced a good ride and excellent fuel economy, achieving 10.5L/100km with a tank capacity of 42.75L.
In the hands of an experienced mechanic and a fearless driver, the Holden FJ has been finely tuned and taken up to 200km/h, although this is not its normal travelling speed, which is more like 134km/h.
Other than the FJ Special, the models were pretty basic inside. The Special came equipped with rear passenger straps, chrome surrounded instrumentation, deluxe leather upholstery and trim, a cigarette lighter, armrests, front door courtesy switches, and a full frontal dashboard with glovebox and window winders. The paint job also came in an extended offering of 12 colours and was available as a 2-tone scheme.
Over the years, these old cars were fitted with many mod cons of the age and second-hand Holdens can be found with fan heaters, radios, venetian blinds, velour or leather upholstery, and door handle scratch plates.
In the early 1950s, there were plenty of large sedan cars on the roads and competition was stiff for the Holden FJ. In its favour, it was a home-grown car, which made it popular with local buyers. The car market at the time offered customers such cars as the Dodge Chrysler, Austin Sedan Chrysler Plymouth and Bel Air, Pontiac Chieftain, and Fiat 1100.
The thing to look out for when picking up old classic cars is the condition of the parts. Also look for rust spots, rotted sills, and wheel arches. There are many pros and cons to restoring a classic car, whether you decide to try and source original components or convert the old mobile into a modern, well-equipped Holden FJ with all the connectivity and features of today’s cars.