Dennis Gardner – 1955 FJ-215

Dennis is a retired gentleman who hails from Sydney’s western suburbs.

He was born in the North West of NSW and spent most of his life traveling and working in the North West and Central West of NSW before moving to Sydney. If you give him a minute, he will regale you with tales of his misspent youth and of the many jobs at which he was employed. Those tales, Tall and True, are themselves a history lesson.

In 1955, Dennis’ Aunt and Uncle Chris and Belle Gardner, who lived in Armidale NSW, purchased an FJ Standard Sedan. It was manufactured at Holden’s Pagewood Plant in October of that year.

On 11th November 1955 they invested £1,117 including “on road” costs and insurance. For that sum they bought the smartest Australian car on the market at the time. It still has its original number plates today and has never been out of registration.

In June 1987, when Aunty Belle was no longer able to drive, and with Uncle Chris having passed away many years before, Dennis bought the FJ for $3500.00. Everyone he knew told him he was crazy.

He had intended to trade it on for the best price he could get, but Ann, his wife, changed his mind by telling him he wasn’t going to sell it at any price. At the time of the purchase, the FJ had covered just 63794 country miles but Dennis and Ann have wound the speedo over once and it now reads 959 miles.








At the time Dennis purchased the FJ it needed some work. He replaced the hood lining, re-sprayed the car in full, and gave it a general overhaul including rings and bearings plus a really good clean. He found straw in the boot as, like most country cars, it was used to carry farm produce amongst other things, and the underneath of the car had a good coating of red dirt.

The car still sports its chrome Holden mascot above its famous grinning “sharks teeth” grille and it still runs comfortably on the freeway at 100km/h.

Since Dennis purchased the FJ in 1987, it has appeared on TV in the series “Home and Away” in 1987, has been the star in several advertising promotions as well as featuring regularly in newspaper articles, it even featured in a Japanese car magazine. Although he couldn’t read the actual article, the literal translation was very funny. The FJ is good enough to have won quite a number of trophies over the years, and Dennis says that that’s very gratifying.

At the time Dennis purchased the FJ, he also joined the 48 & FJ Holden Owners Club of NSW. During his membership he has held various committee positions at different times.

Dennis and Ann have been frequent travelers with the Club on its runs. They have always enjoyed the many outings, having traveled as far a field as Adelaide SA twice to participate in the Bay to Birdwood Rally and to Melbourne Vic. three times for various Holden promotions, even having the luck to drive the FJ around Holden’s Proving Grounds at Lang Lang.

Using and enjoying his FJ with other car club members has been a great way of meeting like minded people and in the process he has formed lasting friendships.

A total of 170,000 FJ’s rolled off the production line between 1953 and 1956. With its excellent ground clearance, rugged drive train, comfortable seating for six and unrivalled value for money, the FJ cemented Holden’s position as the country’s most popular model, and along the way passed into national folklore. Unfortunately very few FJ’s remain and Dennis and Ann, along with the members of the 48 & FJ Holden Owners Club of NSW, want these wonderful old cars to keep going for as long as possible.

Note. Parts of this story are attributed to an article by Ben Johnson in the Sunday Telegraph 03.08.03