The design was originally penned in the United States by Chevrolet for a 1938 model, but was rejected because it was deemed too small for the U.S. market. Instead the design became the basis of the 48-215 model. Development of the 48-215 began in 1944. Three prototypes were built by hand in 1946 by American and Australian engineers at the General Motors workshop in Detroit. Months of durability and performance testing were undergone in the US before the three prototypes were shipped to Australia. Registered as JP-480, prototype no.1 is the only survivor of the three test sedans which became the definitive model for millions of Holden cars. The sole surviving prototype, Holden Prototype Car No. 1, is part of the National Museum of Australia collection.
The Holden was released for sale to the public in 1948 at Port Melbourne, Victoria, by the then Australian Prime Minister, Ben Chifley. The car was marketed simply as the “Holden”, without a model name. It had a 132.5 cu in (2,171 cc) cast-iron straight six engine which produced 60 hp (45 kW), connected to a three-speed manual transmission. It managed the 0-60 mph sprint in 27.7 seconds. It also had a dust proof body, and a small 37 ft turning circle.
The 50-2106 Coupe Utility, based on the 48-215 sedan, was released in January 1951 and in July 1953 the Holden Business Sedan, essentially a taxi version of the 48-215, was added to the range. The 48-215 & 50-2106 models were replaced by the Holden FJ in 1953.
In 1953 the first Holden to enter the Monte Carlo Rally was a Holden 48-215, this was entered by 3 Australian motor sporting identities of that era - Lex Davison, Stan Jones and Tony Gaze and against many odds they managed to finish.
Sixty years later 3 more Australians made that journey to Monte Carlo to re-enact that first event in a restored/replica Holden 48-215 (pictured) owned by Gary Poole, who with Craig Lowndes (V8 Supercar champion) and Richard Davison (Lex's son) also managed to finish and takeout the Cup for oldest car to complete the Rally.
Tony Gaze, acclaimed WWII Spitfire pilot and motor racing enthusiast, was the only surviving member of the original 1953 crew, he was also patron of the 2013 event, driving with them in spirit.