General Motors' Australian operation Holden last year set a new record for exports.

The export tally of 52,372 vehicles eclipsed the previous single-year record of 41,181 (in 1973) by 27% and was 45% higher than in 2003.

Holden has shipped over 650,000 vehicles overseas in five decades and is the country's largest vehicle exporter.

Holden export director Peter Keley said it was fitting the long-standing record should be broken during the year the automaker celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first FJ sedans being shipped to neighbouring New Zealand.

In the Middle East, Holden posted record annual wholesale figures of 23,511, including a record number of 12,596 long wheelbase Chevrolet Caprice models.

Holden also shipped more than 16,000 Pontiac GTOs to the United States where second half sales were significantly higher, reaching 9,881 sales for a full year sales tally of 13,569. The December result of 2,952 was a monthly record and higher than total Monaro sales in Australia during 2004.

The 2004 total of 10,331 for New Zealand (long Holden's top export market until the Pontiac deal with the US was agreed) was the best result in 20 years.

The Vauxhall Monaro was launched in the United Kingdom  during the year but Holden did not provide export figures.

More than 1,000 of the Holden Calais-based Chevrolet Omega were exported to Brazil, the best result since 2000.

Holden continued well-established export programmes to Asia-Pacific countries including Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Holden Special Vehicles, which develops performance variants of the standard Holden range, commenced UK exports with the HSV GTO during 2004. The full HSV range is also shipped to New Zealand.