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.
Australia Day, the country's national holiday, is the perfect time to celebrate two of the country's less traditional V8 muscle machines. Watch as a Holden Commodore SS V Redline Sportwagon and Ute SS smoke their tires to race around a skid pad and haul a barbecue set.
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.
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
Following a stop-delivery order for its new midsize trucks and a rash of recent recalls, General Motors is issuing three more campaigns covering 60,575 vehicles in North America with 57,182 of them in the US. As of October 1, the automaker has issued a total of 74 recalls (see the ridiculously long chart to the right) this year covering 26,495,070 units in the US.
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."
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.
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
The closure of a single automotive assembly plant can be devastating on the local economy. But in Australia, they're dealing with what effectively amounts to the shutdown of its entire automotive sector. Mitsubishi closed its factory there a few years ago. Ford announced just months back that it would cease manufacturing in Australia, and now General Motors is following suit. That effectively leaves just Toyota manufacturing on any substantial scale in Australia, but who knows for how much longe