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Australia’s first one-make series

Holden’s first model the 48-215 captured the imagination of the Australian public when it launched in 1948 with then Prime Minister Ben Chifley leaning on the guard of the first, but it wasn’t long before the motor racing community welcomed it with open arms.

Spectacular racing during the 1950s was provided but the ‘Humpys’ featuring the likes of Harry Firth, Norm Beechey, Bob Jane, Bruce McPhee, Graham Moore, Bo Seton and even journalist Max Stahl were just some of the names on the grid across Australia.

It’s not like the Humpy Holdens only competed on the circuit as the readily available nature of the 48-215 for the next two decades led to use in hillclimbs, trials, drags and rallies, plus even the early ‘boy racers’ on the road.

Much like the HQs and later the Excels, Australian’s have an appetite for one-make competition, with ‘Humpy’ entries emerging from little old ladies front yards, as even road cars had numbers placed on them to compete before driven back home.

Of course, back then interpretations of the rulebook were how would it be said, ah loose, so tricks were rife and accusations were rife.

However, to say a Humpy Holden was safe is probably pushing it as rollovers were common with Beechey among those to have a ride on the wild side.

What made the 48-215 a popular racing model?

First of all, there were plenty around and parts were in abundance. Secondly, weighing in at just 990kg and powered any the 138ci ‘grey’ in-line six, it was a great package producing around 160bhp.

Popularity of the Humpies petered out by the 1970s as Geminis, Renaults and even TR7s were used in one-make competition, but the founding of Appendix J Touring Cars during the early-1980s led to a resurgence.

A few still race today in Group N competition and it is a rare treat to see these historic vehicles anywhere let alone the race track.