FB Holden (1960-61)
A new model for a new decade, the FB Holden was released in January 1960. It was longer, lower and more streamlined than its forerunner the FC model. The FB was the product of three years of design, development and testing by General Motors-Holden.
The FB was available in four different body types, namely a sedan, a station sedan, a panel van and a utility model. The sedan and station sedan were available in two-trim levels classed as standard and special. The classification was related to the amount of accessories that came with the car and the quality of its finish, with the standard being the basic model. The special was distinguishable from the standard by the chrome strip that extended from the front window pillars to the rear of the car, as well as its two-tone paintwork. GM-H for the first time didn’t include a business trim variant in the range, unlike all previous models.
Though stylistically different, the FB was mechanically very similar to the FC. The length of the car was longer by over five inches, but the wheel base remained the same.
The bodywork of the FB was a major redesign of its predecessor, but still shared enough similarities to be recognisable as a Holden. It didn’t have a bonnet bulge that had been part of the Holden models design since the release of the 48-215 (FX) in 1948. The FB featured a new wider grill that extended right across the front, but covered only the lower half. Its tail fins were moulded into the bodywork, whereas these were only chrome accents on the previous two models. The taillights on the sedans and wagons were a new design that fit the contour of the fins with large round individual brake lights beneath them.
The Holden sales brochure boasted the car had 27% improved visibility over the previous model due to its wrap-around windscreen design and wide rear window. The flattening out of the bonnet and more prominent rear fins improved visibility inside the car by allowing drivers to see all four corners of the vehicle whilst parking.
The six-cylinder “grey” engine would remain in use with this model, however it received a number of modifications to cope with the larger, heavier FB body. The capacity and compression of the 2.2L engine was increased but not significantly enough to counteract the additional weight. Consequently, the older FC Holden was the more lively of the two. As on previous models, the engine was again paired with a three-speed manual transmission. Braking was improved with the use of larger brake linings. Electrical improvements were made with the addition of a four-brush starter motor and larger battery.
Because of the additional bodyweight, the FB was fitted with an upgraded more heavy-duty suspension than that of the earlier Holdens. The FB ran heavier-gauge coil springs and a newly designed shock absorber.
Inside, the cars featured a more extravagant dash and instrument panel with deeply recessed instruments and a chrome surround on the special variant. The speedometer had an orange arc instead of a needle to indicate speed and there were now, new circular oil-temperature and fuel gauges. A new ventilation duct fitted beneath the windscreen improved air-flow inside the car.
Interiors were trimmed in hard-wearing vinyl in a wide range of single and two-tone colour combinations to compliment the exterior paint finishes. The standard, panel van and utility variants were also available in a number of single colour options. The special was available in a single colour or two-tone finish.
The use of acrylic lacquer over nitrocellulose, which had been the standard previously, began with the FB model. This was the trend in the automotive industry at the time, as acrylic lacquer was more fade resistant and less prone to yellowing.
Between January 1960 and May 1961, GM-H produced 147,747 units of the FC Holden before it was replaced with the EK model.