The Passion for Holden, Joel Wakely

Comments (1) Interviews

With his passion for Holden cars unwavering, Harrington resident Joel Wakely is about to launch his second book, The Passion for Holden. If you’re a motor enthusiast, don’t miss Joel’s launch at both Harington and Taree libraries this month …

Hi Joel. We last spoke to you about a year ago, when you released your book, Legends of the 48-215. Your love for Holden cars obviously hasn’t diminished, as you’ve since written a new book, The Passion for Holden. What inspired you to write a second book?

When Holden announced they were ending all car production in Australia by the last quarter of 2017 and all future models would be imported from their worldwide network, I was inspired to write about Holden’s history in Australia from the 1880s to 2017 and covering all models manufactured over 70 years of mass car production by GM-H.

My Legends of the 48-215 books had received good reviews, and acceptable sales while getting the attention of Woodslane Press, the publishers of my second book.

Another bonus was being invited as a guest speaker at several car club meetings in Sydney, Newcastle and several in the Manning Valley region to talk to club members. At those meetings and also at car shows and race meeting events I engaged with many club members, who were keen to tell their car story and provide photos of their pride and joy. Without exception, all were die hard Holden lovers full of passion and enthusiasm for their model of choice. It was their “passion” that inspired me to select 48 special stories with photos to include in my book, and allow them the opportunity to tell it in their words.

Your new book does appear to be broader in scope – in the sense that it covers many Holden models and their history, rather than focusing on a specific series of cars. How else does this new book differ from your previous work?

Together with the book’s original compiled story line, I added 48 feature stories together with over 350 photo illustrations, including 120 taken from the GM-Holden copyright archive records held by the Adelaide Library. When the book was finally finished to my satisfaction, and after the final proofreading, the book (The Evolution of Holden) was renamed The Passion for Holden, voted to be the most appropriate book title given the end result.

My Legends of the 48-215 book was centred on the history of the FX Holden in car racing around the 1960s and drivers who later became legends in the sport. It also featured an account of the mechanical challenges in the development of a racing Holden in the earlier times and was supported by a number of car stories and events from the ‘60s era.

I realised my next book had to cover a wider range of activity and be much broader in depth. To achieve this, I feature and reference all model Holdens manufactured in Australia from the 48-215, 1948 model through to the 2017 Commodore and added the 48 stories, all together with photographs.

As a final and fitting chapter to celebrate the last model Commodore, I feature in detail a range of photos taken at Holdens test track outside Melbourne, together with a summary provided for my book by GM-Holden of the final special build models, named “The Red Line Special”. The 1800 special models are considered a collector’s item, while noting all are pre sold with delivery scheduled for October /November 2017.

From the first to the last models manufactured by Holden, including four special prototypes, one of models, makes my book differ from my previous effort and others.

What are one or two interesting facts you’ve uncovered about Holden history/manufacture that the general public may not already know?

The most interesting fact I discovered in my research was the GM’s American company’s involvement in the design and development of model Holden from 1946 through to the 1978 Commodore. All work was carried out in their American Global Design Centre, based in Detroit. In addition, each Holden series model was developed as a prototype two years before they finally went into production in Australia. As an example, the 1965 HD Holden was an approved design and ready for production in 1963 – two years before the release of the 1963 EH Holden.

The first prototype 48-215 car hand built in the US Detroit factory was first registered in America in 1946. After it was shipped to Australia for testing, it was again registered in Victoria on the 12th February 1947, registration JP-480. This number one Holden, purchased by the National Museum of Canberra for $650,000 in 2004, is one of the most recognised cultural artefacts of 1950s Australia.

Of all the Holdens you’ve owned/driven/raced in the past … what particular model/s are your favourites (and why)?

The most favourite Holden I owned would have to be my 2003 Monaro CV-8 coupe. I say it was mine, but my wife, Kerry, disputes all reference to my ownership. By 2003, Holden were making world class vehicles, and this was one of their best. This was a car that had everything – it ticked all the boxes for style, performance plus for the highway, yet it was a pleasure to amble around town in the traffic in style.

My second choice would be my Holden Walkinshaw Group A Commodore, outlandish in style and performance. Called the ugly duckling, it was not a town car; it’s brutal in traffic and it has too much go on speed restricted highways. I described it as my love/ hate car. After four years and only 23,000 km, I let common sense prevail and sold it.

Among many other I owned my 1950, 48-215 – Appendix J racing Holden @137 bhp that still holds the Bathurst speed record for its class @ 122.11 MPH timed on Conrod Straight, all in the ‘60s.

When will your new book be launched?

Harrington Library, 1:30 on Tuesday 29th August, followed by Taree Library at 1:30 on Thursday 31st August.

Bookings are essential, as light refreshments will be served. Ph 6592 5290 or email:

Free event tickets also available:

For those who can’t make the launch, where can they obtain a copy of your book?

To order a copy of The Passion for Holden book@ $49.95 plus postage online:


Thanks Joel.

One Response to The Passion for Holden, Joel Wakely

  1. Rebecca says:

    Hi , just wondering if this gets to Joel please let me know. We are looking for a copy of The Legend 48 215

Leave a Reply