Holden History FE

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By ReaperHR

A recent article on the FE (2004)

Produced July 1956 to April 1958.

After 8 years of the same shape and design of the 48/215 and FJ Holdens (which were really a 1940s design), Holden decided a rework was in order and using an Australian designed body the FE Holden was born. The design bought more modern looks to the market for Holdens through the use of a longer wheel base, wider track, and flatter bonnet and boot (gone was the sloping style boot and tall round bonnet).

Changes to the FE over the FJ were significant to it's appearance:
Body was larger, interior was roomier, longer wheel base, wider track, lower roof, flatter bonnet and boot, 12 volt electrical system, the engine used bigger valves and slightly higher compression, recirculating ball steering box, front stabiliser bar, wider wheel rims, a one piece rounded windscreen and larger rear window, pedals changed for pendant type from floor mounted.

The new single piece windscreen and larger rear window resulted in around a 40% increase in visibility in the car, this coupled smaller wheels (13" from 15"), more responsive pedals, the longer wheel base with wider track and the new front stabiliser resulted in a car that handled much better than its predecessors and was much safer on the road. Compared to todays standards they were like a caveman hammering rocks together but the roads were a different place back in 1956. With the upgrades made Holden was well on its way to finally adapting some modern technology to its cars.
An FE advertisement

Engine capacity was not increased in the FE compared to the FJ but it used bigger valves and slightly higher compression, which resulted in roughly a 10% increase in power (53kw in the FE compared to 45kw in the FJ).

The FE also came with new colour schemes and models, this was because Holden recognised that different people wanted different cars and that they liked their cars to be "personalised". This was coupled with redesigned seating and better sound insulation and the dash was completely reworked with a large centre-mounted radio speaker grille, full-circle horn ring, altered instrument and control arrangement and a lockable glovebox which was larger. Specials included blinkers with the rear blinker being the stop light flashing. Other options on the FE included windscreen washers, reversing lights and demister.

The FE Holden was released in the types of Standard, Business, Special and Commercial (Ute and Panel Van). The Station Sedan or Wagon as we now call it was not included at the beginning of production but entered production in early 1957. The models available were Standard Sedan, Business Sedan, Standard Station Sedan (1957), Special sedan, Special Station Sedan (1957), Panel Van and Utility.
An FE advertisement




Figures of Interest
Price New Number Built Engines Transmissions Performance:

0 - 100 km/h


Standing 400m

$2284 155,161 132 3 speed column manual 20.4 seconds 21.4 seconds


Information for this page was gathered from the following sites:
Early Holdens
Unique Cars and Parts
Southgate Holden
Australian Holdens
Holden Main Site
and from the following books:
SPOTLIGHT ON HOLDEN 1948-1959 by Tony Davis
FX (48/215) to HR Workshop Manual by Gregorys