CUSTOMER ORDER OR STOCK ITEM?
Through a very carefully planned manufacturing process, GM-H built more cars than any other manufacturer in Australia. However, not all Holdens were ‘ordered’ as such by their original owners despite claims to the contrary.
Four main types of order were used to build a Holden. Stock, Fleet, Government, and Retail (Customer). The rarest though was the Special Order where a Holden was built for a special reason that was normally outside the regular ordering procedures. The most common though was the Stock Order where cars reflected the current trends.
The first Holdens were simply supplied to the consumer on the basis of next in the queue. The waiting time blew out to more than two years whilst production was ramped up to meet the incredible demand. Buyers took what they were given. There was no choice of colour/trim. It was simply a new Holden car and that was that. An assembly plant was located in each GM-H zone and the vast majority of orders were dealt with from within the zone. On occasion, vehicles were re-assigned to keep the wheels in motion thus gradually reducing the backlog.
In time buyers were eventually able to select from the colour range and various models as new series were released. Cars were not ordered by a customer in the true sense, rather selected from a range that was available in stock. This allowed for almost immediate delivery in most cases. Dealer Order Banks had been established whereby the various zone Vehicle Distribution offices (VDD) used trends and forecasts to ensure adequate stocks were on hand at all times. The assembly plants built cars to a Schedule that had been prepared in advance based on a number of complex predictive measures.
Come 1960, things began to change in a big way. There was now a real choice in cars on the local scene as well as a choice within the Holden itself. The first of these was the transmission in manual or automatic. No longer was the Holden a ‘one-spec.’ car. In time, other optional equipment items were incorporated like engines, brakes, rear axle ratios and so on. It was now much more than a case of simply adding Nasco accessories to satisfy choosy customers who requested a personalised Holden.
By the late 1960s, even though the bulk remained as selling from stock prepared through the traditional scheduling, more and more retail orders were added to the mix. Customers were prepared to wait for their Holden to be built. The range of optional equipment had reached epic proportions and with it came delays of varying magnitude. However a ‘promise’ that a customer could go to a dealer and order their car and then take delivery within three weeks nearly killed the company, as cancelled orders were very hard to shift given the almost ‘one-off’ cars that resulted.
Limited-build vehicle packages – the first being the White Hot Holden in 1969 – were ordered by zone VDD offices and not to customer order. As forecasting became increasingly challenging, “selling from stock” acquired a more important role on the sales side. Vehicle packages on existing models also became more regular over time.