In 1852, James Alexander Holden emigrated to South Australia from Walsall, England and in 1856 established J. A. Holden & Co, a saddlery business in Adelaide. In 1879 J A Holden’s eldest son Henry James (HJ) Holden, became a partner and effectively managed the company. In 1885, German-born H. A. Frost joined the business as a junior partner and J. A. Holden & Co became Holden & Frost Ltd. Edward Holden, James' grandson, joined the firm in 1905 with an interest in automobiles. From there, the firm evolved through various partnerships and, in 1908, Holden & Frost moved into the business of minor repairs to car upholstery. The company began re-body older chassis using motor bodies produced by F T Hack and Co from 1914. Holden & Frost mounted the body, painted and trimmed it. The company began to produce complete motorcycle sidecar bodies after 1913. After 1917, wartime trade restrictions led the company to start full-scale production of vehicle body shells. H. J. Holden founded a new company in late 1917, and registered Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd (HMBB) on 25 February 1919 specialising in car bodies and using the former F T Hack & Co facility at 400 King William Street in Adelaide before erecting a large 4 story factory on the site.