Iconic custom Holdens part 1: FX-FJ

We take a trip down humpy memory lane with seven iconic custom builds from the 60s and 70s


Custom FX and FJ Holdens were a dominant genre of their very own in the Aussie hot-car scene of the 1960s and early 70s. They were cheap to buy and extremely plentiful, making them the perfect canvas for the young generation of that era to express their individuality, from mild cosmetic modifications to the extreme ends of wild custom bodywork.

First published in the April 2023 issue of Street Machine

Not only was the FX/FJ platform the perfect, organic ‘humpy’ shape to work with, but the aftermarket industry made it easy to add plenty of go to complement the show.

In this first trip down custom humpy memory lane, we look at a mix of differently styled builds, with more to follow in part two.

1. Alby Oliver’s ‘Black Shadow’ FJ

The late Alby Oliver built his ‘Black Shadow’ FJ in the late 1960s, complete with many of the cornerstone humpy custom touches of the time.

Valiant station wagon tail-lights and EH Holden headlamps were used, along with Wolseley grille vents fitted to the front guards, while the neat grille treatment was executed by reversing a second FJ upper grille surround and joining it to the original.

Flawless black paint and Perspex bonnet inserts made Black Shadow a multiple trophy winner.

Alby later replaced the hotted-up – yet highly detailed – grey motor with an even hotter 186 red donk, and the pair saw regular drag strip duty.

2. Bob Moule’s ‘Bobcat’ FX

Bob Moule’s ‘Bobcat’ was easily one of the most popular and recognisable FX customs of the 1960s. Although a stalwart of the SA Rod & Custom Club, Bob was also a huge Austin-Healey fan who hankered for a sports car but simply couldn’t afford one, so he decided to make his own.

For a mechanic with an arc welder, he absolutely nailed the car’s proportions – no mean feat considering it was not only chopped and sectioned but also channelled and shortened. Originally finished with standard grey power and chromed reverse wheels, the car was later updated with a Norman supercharger and remained with Bob until the 1990s, when it was sold on and subsequently rebuilt.

It’s received a few minor alterations in the ensuing years, including a set of Herbert five-spoke wheels and a change of tail-lights from the original Isuzu Bellett units. The Austin bonnet vents in the guards and vinyl roof are also long gone. Interestingly, it was one of only a handful of custom early Holdens that didn’t have its grille substantially altered back in the day.

Well, kind of; Bob swapped in an FJ grille, as its horizontal design made the car appear wider compared to the FX’s vertical bars.

As with many early customs, often the original guise is the best, but I am happy to report that Bobcat survives and can still be found cruising the streets of Adelaide.

3. Geoff Seymour’s FX sedan

A stand-out Apple Isle build was the FX sedan of Launceston’s Geoff Seymour. Finished in 1970, Geoff’s FX was a popular show winner both in Tassie and on the mainland, and deservedly scored a four-page feature in SM’s granddaddy publication, The Australian Hot Rodding Review in 1971.

Its “two gallons” of bright red paint, extensive chrome work and canted twin headlights meant it definitely stood out, boosted exponentially by an EJ sedan rear graft for its lower rear quarters.

A warmed-over grey featured all the must-haves of that era: twin Strombergs, headwork and a Wade 25/65 cam, while Herbert rims and Pirelli rubber worked in conjunction with a four-inch drop all ’round.

A trip to show the car in Sydney was to be the Holden’s last outing with Geoff; he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse, and returned home with a pocketful of cash and a heap of memories.

4. Sel Watkins’s FJ

Talented panel beater Sel Watkins hailed from Ipswich in Queensland and built himself this instantly recognisable FJ custom in the late 1960s.

Sel chose to keep it virtually all Holden, adding elements of a number of different models to make his mark.

The EK tail-lights and fins are an obvious change, while the FE/C headlight rims blend well with the nosed bonnet, EH upper grille chrome, and EH front pan and bumper.

Sadly, Sel’s custom was later stolen and never found.

5. Tony Andrew’s ‘Blue J’ FX

Tony Andrew’s ‘Blue J’ build is widely regarded as the quintessential Australian custom. Understandably thought to be an FJ by most due to its name, the car actually started life as an FX: “Blue X didn’t have quite the same ring to it,” Tony would later state.

His sedan was built in the mid-1960s as a rolling advertisement for his Kustom City and later Mag Wheel Centre businesses, and featured the first set of ‘Kustom Mag’ wheels made by Tony.

Resplendent in heavy blue metalflake paint, Blue J was smoothed to the nth degree and featured canted Toyota headlights, a modified Austin A55 grille insert within twin Morris grille surrounds, and frenched Studebaker tail-lights.

Flared guards were created using copper tube, and the angled nerf bars pictured replaced the widened EK bumpers made for its original build. The car was eventually sold and quickly disappeared without a trace – a disappointing end for a car that rates so highly on many enthusiasts’ list of favourites.

6. Greg Bullivant’s ‘Heartbreak’ FJ

Heartbreak was a silver ’54 FJ custom built in the 1970s, oozing styling cues made popular in that era. Built by well-known customiser Greg Bullivant, Heartbreak featured rollpans front and rear along with a custom twin-section grille and inverted LC Torana tail-lights.

Panelled silver paint and an early set of Dragway wheels rounded out the exterior.

A flip front revealed a 192 red motor sporting triple two-inch SUs and backed by an X2 four-speed, while a large heart-shaped moon roof left no doubt as to this car’s theme.

Later sold to Ian and Yvonne Cooper, the FJ was a regular sight on the Melbourne show scene of the day, and if you look closely in the bottom photo, you can see an early guise of Steve Abbott’s iconic HJ panel van, VANRAT, in the background.

7. Mike Hamilton’s FJ

Mike Hamilton of Glen Innes, NSW built this FJ sedan in the 1970s, seen here on display in Brisbane at one of the hugely popular Indooroopilly Shoppingtown car park shows from that time.

Mike’s Holden offers something of a mix between the more traditional humpy builds of the 1960s and the burgeoning free love of the 1970s hot-car scene.

Dark blue fogging and panel paint over baby blue mixed with then-new Performance Spitfire wheels, while the Valiant AP sedan tail-lights were a match made in heaven for this model.

Thankfully, Mike’s FJ still survives and was spotted strutting its old-school vibe at a recent Cooly Rocks On.