Holden history: the E series


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Holden history: the E series

In part three of our three part History of Holden (read part two here), we delve into the history of the E series.

The Holden EK 1961–62
With the same general body type as its predecessors, the EK Holden entered the market in 1961 bringing with it an optional automatic gearbox. Ford had recently introduced the ‘Fordomatic’ to Falcons to a great reception and Holden knew it had to keep up to stay competitive.
The EK was the result of a few minor cosmetic changes but no increase in power. Changes included electric windscreen wipers, a revised fresh-air/heating unit, parking lights, a redesigned grille, an altered interior trim and new exterior badges.
The EK Holden was released in the types of Standard, Special and Commercial (Ute and Panel Van).
The Holden EJ 1962–63
On the 26th of October 1962 Holden produced its millionth car, an EJ Premier. The EJ Holden was a completely new design – its purpose was to bring modern styling to the Holden range, which was a step behind Ford in the cosmetic department.
The EJ was completely remodelled on the outside but still had the same old beating heart of an engine. The roofline was dropped 2 inches but the ride height remained the same. The EJ had a mildly improved ‘Hydramatic’ gearbox as an option but the main improvement was in its brakes with the addition of duo-servo units, this went with a slightly improved suspension.
For the first time Holden introduced the ‘Premier’ title to its range, a luxury edition. This type would last another 20 years in various models. The EJ Premier had no manual gearbox option and included full leather seating and metallic paint among other luxurious features.
The EJ Holden was also the first model to include standard safety belt fittings – this along with better front suspension and improved braking made the EJ a much safer motor vehicle over its predecessors.
The EJ Holden was released in the types of Standard, Special, Premier and Commercial (Ute and Panel Van).
The Holden EH 1963–65
In August 1963, Holden released the EH, which sported some styling upgrades such as straighter rear guards and a lower roof. The EH also included Holden’s new ‘Red Motor’. Holden had finally upgraded from its old Grey Motor, which, although reliable, was seriously underpowered for the new styles of car Holden was starting to produce.
The customer could choose from two different sized motors, either a 149ci or a 179ci. Compared with the old Grey Motor, the 149ci had a 33% power increase and the 179ci a 54% power increase. The Hydramatic Automatic gearbox had another gear added making it now a four speed box.
The main issue for this new model was that the old column shift manual was barely strong enough to handle the new 149ci and was pitifully inferior behind the new 179ci motor. The brakes too were not improved to handle the new power.
The EH, however, was a terrific seller for Holden – over 250,000 EH Holdens were sold in just 18 months and today they remain one of the most popular old Holdens for enthusiasts.
The EH range also included Holden’s first attempt at a purpose built race car, the S4. Although inferior to the Ford Cortina GT on the track, this was the first step on a new path for Holden and showed that the company was committed to improving their cars with performance in mind. The S4 had a few features that were later included on other models such as a brake booster. It is incredibly rare to find an S4 today, only 120 were made.
The EH was released at the same time as the new Ford Falcon, which created a great bit of rivalry between die-hard fans of each make – rivalry which continues to today with the newer models. The EH was sold as ‘Australia’s own’, much like the other early Holdens, even though the designs for most came from American or European cars.
The EJ Holden was released in the types of Standard, Special (including the rare S4), Premier and Commercial (Ute and Panel Van).
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