For decades, Mark Bernhard has been the guy GM sends to places around the world to manage the finances of its international operations. Now he's returning home to Australia to oversee Holden's transition from manufacturer to importer.
Auto enthusiasts should absolutely adore Australia. This bonkers island, aside from being filled with bugs, spiders, sharks and crocodiles, all of which are hellbent on killing you slowly, is home to two of the auto world's greatest things – the V8 Supercars series, and the ute.
If you need the extra convenience of four doors but don't want to give up the thrill of high performance, the Chevrolet SS represents a potent package. The exterior is understated and the design certainly doesn't scream about the 415-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 hiding beneath the hood. Unfortunately, there are some questions about how long this muscle sedan will last.
Not all of the customs at SEMA are about showing off huge power or wild body kits. Automakers also bring along a smattering of concepts that just display some of the styling options possible for their models. Chevrolet is no different, and it has a bunch of modestly modded bow ties on display at this year's show.
Holden had a crisis of leadership over the past few years. GM's Australian division had three chief executives in as many years, before Mike Devereux steered it through a period of relative stability for the better part of three years. Devereux was succeeded earlier this year by Gerry Dorizas, but after less than eight months on the job, Dorizas is stepping down, too.
Even if it only ever made it Stateside as a coupe (Pontiac GTO) and sedan (Chevy SS), GM's Australian division Holden offers its Commodore in a number of bodystyles: sedan, wagon, even a truck-bedded ute. And what's more, Aussie buyers can (for now, at least) even get each of those bodystyles in HSV performance spec. The one version we haven't seen thus far is a shooting brake, but now Holden, Triple Eight Race Engineering and Red Bull Racing Australia have teamed up to present this bonkers, one
Traditional motorsports pit a bunch of roughly equivalent vehicles over a course to find out which driver has the most skill and which car has the right tweaks to score a victory against the competitors. But Top Gear is anything but traditional. It decided to stage two very different kinds of races to see how things went during the Top Gear Festival Sydney.
Craig Lowndes is a household name in Australia. One of its most accomplished domestic racing drivers, Lowndes has racked up an impressive array of checkered flags over the course of his 20 years on the grid, and now Holden is celebrating his career with a special-edition muscle car you see here.
While America has its ongoing performance war among the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger, a similar battle in Australia might soon be going out with a bang. Both Ford and Holden are cutting back on local production in the coming years, but their performance brands are firing off one last salvo of insanely powerful utes that are some of the wildest vehicles ever to come from the land Down Under.
Aussie Muscle Sedan Isn't Perfect, But It's One Heck Of A Deal
On a recent jaunt to Australia, we got behind the wheel of a Holden Commodore SS-V Redline. We've been looking forward to driving not a Holden, but the Holden, the Commodore, ever since we visited Australia for the first time in 1994 and saw a Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) Commodore parked like a magazine-spread model in a driveway next to a house on a bluff. It was an indifferent, unavailable and previously unknown exotic.
Big changes are afoot at Holden. After General Motors opted to shut down its only plants Down Under, its Australian subsidiary is shifting from a manufacturer to an importer of automobiles. The question on everyone's mind, then, has been whether Detroit would keep its Australian nameplates in place, or replace them with global ones.
When you look at a Holden Commodore, you're not likely to see a "green" car staring back at you. (That is, assuming you're in Australia where the Commodore is sold. Or in the UK where you can get a Vauxhall VXR8. Or here in the US where it's rebadged as a Chevy SS or before that as a Pontiac G8 or GTO.) It is, in many cases after all, a big, rear-drive V8 muscle sedan. Not, in other words, known for its frugal sipping of fuel. But that didn't have to be the case.
Holden, General Motor's Australian arm, is just beginning a major transition. The automaker announced late last year that it would end local production in 2017. But recently, Gerry Dorizas, its new managing director, boldly declared that the marque is gunning to lead the country in market share by 2020. His plan is to launch more youth-focused products and improve the brand's dealers to do it. We're seeing the first steps in that plan with the addition of three imported models to the Holden line
Little more than a month after leaving the top slot at Volkswagen of India to become managing director of Holden, Australian outlets are reporting that Gerry Dorizas said he wants Holden to be number one in Oz market share by 2020. Dorizas says he believes it can be done with better and more youth-focused product, a better dealership experience and "a lot of work."
Randy Reese is the Colorado dreamcatcher for those who still light votive candles at the altar of Our Lady of El Camino. He fulfills his role by importing the bodies of Australian utes, like the one pictured above, and installing them on the chassis' of fully US-compliant cars like the Pontiac GTO, G8, or Chevrolet Caprice or Impala. His two-year-old company only builds a few cars a year - each one takes 2.5 months - but they're all fully done up with their original safety equipment, accessories
The name Walkinshaw carries with it a proud history of collaborating with major automakers to produce some of the most lust-worthy racing machinery and road-going performance vehicles ever known. The Jaguar XJR-9 was developed by Tom Walkinshaw Racing. So were the Nissan R390, Porsche WSC-95 and Mazda MXR-01 – top-tier Le Mans prototypes all. Walkinshaw helped Jaguar develop the XJR-15 and XJ220 supercars.
Cadillac might have its best product mix in recent history, and GM's luxury brand is looking to expand. In fact, it might even be making a trip Down Under, at least according to the company's global marketing chief.
Never a people to go down without a fight, Australia is still lobbying to save local Holden production following the announcement from General Motors that its South Australia-based subsidiary would be closing up shop. Now, the state's premier (that's like a governor) is attempting to find another automaker to buy Holden from GM. Premier Jay Weatherill has suggested that Holden be sold to another manufacturer, if it will mean that production will continue at the Elizabeth and Fisherman Bend facto