excerpt from the Unique Cars and Parts Holden Heritage feature...
James Alexander Holden
When British migrant James Alexander Holden arrived in Adelaide in 1852, he set about establishing a business as a leather worker and saddle-maker. In 1872 he set up a partnership with Birks, only to have it disolved 3 years later. Following that ill-fated partnership, Holden decided to bring his son into the business in 1879, and then allowed Henry Frost to join as Junior Partner in 1885; Adolf Frost was well respected carriage builder, and the company was soon to become "Holden and Frost". In 1910 Holden & Frost began trimming motor vehicles and in 1914 they built their first one off car body for an imported Lancia chassis. Larger contracts followed but ironically the first major contract was for Dodge bodies (a later competitor).
The Import Embaro On Complete Vehicles
By 1917 the Australian government had placed an import embargo on complete vehicles, the First World War having almost entirely involved Britain's industry, and German U Boat Captains were doing their best to ensure that very few cargo ships leaving North America reached their intended destination. These conditions, combined with the need to save valuable cargo space, restricted imports to chassis and forced local vehicle agents to look to local firms to provide the bodies. In 1919 Edward Wheeldon Holden registered "Holden's Motor Body Builders" as a separate company specialising in car bodies.
At the time they built bodies for Overland, Chevrolet, Durant, Hupmobile and Dodge, and by 1923 they were producing over 12,000 bodies per year. In 1924 "Holden's Motor Body Builders" became the sole Australian body builder for General Motors vehicles and had an output of over 22,000 bodies (over 11,000 for GM) in 65 different body styles.