Hettie's Holden is a piece of South West history with a remarkable story

Little Green Car: Hettie Mills will exhibit her beloved Holden 48-215 at the upcoming Holden Open Day. Picture: Supplied.
Little Green Car: Hettie Mills will exhibit her beloved Holden 48-215 at the upcoming Holden Open Day. Picture: Supplied.

Ask any Holden owner why they love the brand so much, and you'll likely get the same response.

"Because it's an Australian car. It was made in Australia, for Australia."

Busselton local Hettie Mills is a life-long fan, having driven Holdens for decades alongside her late husband Allan.

"Whenever we had a car it was always a Holden," Ms Mills said. "Over the years we would have had 10 or 12 different cars."

First established as a saddle maker in 1856, Holden began producing cars in Australia in the early 1900s, and became the nation's most popular brand in the 50s.

The iconic brand closed its doors in Australia in 2021 after sales plummeted that decade, rendering Holden cars potential collectors items.

Ms Mills' prized possession is her Holden 48-215, a model that was produced between 1948 and 1953.

She bought the car with her husband in 1986, with a missing piece thanks to the previous owner.

"A friend of ours up in the Wheatbelt heard about the car, but he wasn't interested in the car, he wanted the radio out of it," Ms Mills said.

"Not many cars had radios, they were an added extra."

After buying the radio-less car, Mr and Mrs Mills decided they wanted to give it a complete make over.

"We decided to really do it up," Ms Mills said. "We brought it from Bodallin down to here, and we took the motor out, took all the paint off, stripped it right back to bare metal and we had it in a young chap's workshop."

While the Mills thought their car was in good hands, they woke one day to find out the young man had done a midnight flit, leaving their car behind in his garage.

"We had all these parts and the motor and the wiring and everything in boxes," Ms Mills said. "I thought how the hell are we going to get this car together to be a motor car again."

Luckily, the couple found a local man who took the car into his workshop, working on it with the Mills until it was finally completed.

The finished car had flash new seats, with upholstery made from leather which they'd had sent from England. The couple had also managed to find a local man to complete the upholstery, who had done his apprenticeship in the Holden factory.

With a design more than half a decade old, the car and other vintage vehicles are now only drivable on a concessional licence, meaning they can only be taken out for club events or short test drives.

Ms Mills has been a member of the Busselton Veteran Car Club for more than 30 years, and has driven the "little green car" in countless events. She said she was used to people stopping to stare at her piece of history, with its classic design and a gear stick that many people had never seen the likes of.

"You hear people in the crowd say 'aren't these old people proud of their cars, they look after their cars'," she said.

The car club meets once a month and has events all year round, with competitions for the best drivers and navigators.

It hosts many other Holden owners, who were all devastated when the company announced its Australian closure.

To share their love of the discontinued make, the club will hold a Holden Open Day on March 13, with one car of every Holden model on display, except for one.

Free to the public, visitors can see the iconic vehicles from 9am-midday, at the clubrooms on Causeway Road. For more information, search 'Veteran Car Club of WA Inc Busselton' on Facebook.