Summary

This completely burnt-out shell of a Holden 48-215 sedan was one of a collection of six early-model Holden cars owned by Mr Chis Lee and stored in a purpose-built shed on his property at Koornalla, south of Traralgon. The shed was destroyed by the Black Saturday bushfires on 7 February 2009.

This Holden, with the registration SL165, was previously painted dark green. It was built in Australia in 1950 and was purchased by Mr Lee for $6,000 in 1998. It was the first Holden Mr Lee collected, about 10 years before the fire. He drove it about once a month and took it to a number of car shows over the ten years he owned the car. None of the six cars in his collection were insured against fire.

The Bushfires around Traralgon on Black Saturday destroyed 247 houses and killed 11 people. The fire also destroyed Mr Lee's house, which had been designed by his late wife, and all his possessions. He had decided to evacuate the property earlier in the day, after leaving 14 sprinklers running.

Physical Description

Steel-bodied four-door Holden sedan burnt out by fire. Surface paint coatings have been largely burned off with the some remains of pink primer extant. The exposed metal surfaces are rusted. The glass windows and windscreen have melted and the glass slumped into the interior. All interior fabric trim and upholstery have been destroyed, with only the steel frame and springs of the seats remaining. The bonnet release has warped and is jammed so the condition of the engine is unknown. Only the chrome-plated metal fittings remain relatively unscathed.

Significance

Statement of Significance;
Popularly known as the FX, the Holden 48-215 was the first motor car to be mass-produced in Australia and has come to represent the growing confidence of Australia in the post-1945 world. The new consumer-driven economy led to massive social changes for Australians and their urban environment as rising prosperity and car ownership allowed new housing, shopping, leisure and working opportunities. It was launched at Fishermans Bend in November 1948 by Prime Minister Ben Chifley and, together with the similar FJ, it has become one of the most readily identifiable symbols of Australia.

Over the past 30 years early-model Holden cars such as this example have been increasingly valued by collectors and restorers. Chris Lee collected his Holdens because they reminded him of the cars he grew up with. The burned Holden is a powerful symbol of the impact of bushfire in the landscape.

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