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First look: Holden's heavyweight show star

Accurate guide: Ignore the big wheels and you get a fair idea of the look of Holden's new One-Tonner.

An icon is set to return with the preview of the Holden One-Tonner in Melbourne

26 Feb 2003

HOLDEN will abandon its recent motor show practice of revealing future shock concepts in Melbourne this week, instead promoting the return of the cab-chassis One-Tonner as its premier attraction.

And the vehicle to be revealed will look a lot like this official artist's impression issued this week, although you can ignore the big wheels.

Both a base model and upper specification S model One Tonner will be shown in Melbourne, but little specification and no pricing will be announced, as it doesn't go on sale till mid-year.

However, the car's live axle and elliptical leaf spring rear suspension design will be obvious to all. Holden is also expected to confirm the optional availability of the Gen III V8 on S.

The change away from concepts may only be temporary - at least one concept is under consideration for Sydney later this year - but it demonstrates how important it is to the company to make inroads into the commercial vehicle market this year.

The One-Tonner will lead the two-wheel drive Cross8 crew-cab into Holden showrooms, while the company's first local four-wheel drive will also be revealed in wagon form in the second half.

The One-Tonner is a vital addition to Holden's utility lineup. The Ford Falcon consistently beats the Commodore-based ute in the monthly VFACTS figures and that is at least partially attributable to Ford's cab-chassis model.

Holden needs a boost from its utilities and off-roaders this year as currency rates and its European supplier Opel force price rises which are expected to put the squeeze on Barina, Astra and Vectra sales.

The decision to use One-Tonner as its Melbourne show star attraction is indicative of the model's importance and the connection Holden believes it has with an Aussie audience.

It is also a reflection of the number of new models Holden has to launch this year and its desire to give each one room for promotion without concept cars fogging up the message.

Supporting acts for Holden in Melbourne will be the ZC Vectra, SRi turbo three-door Astra, the new Rodeo and its last concept - the SSX all-wheel drive hatchback first shown in Sydney last year. But also coming in the first half of 2003 are the turbo Astra convertible and the WK Statesman/Caprice.

"There is no question in our mind that the main focus of the show will be the One-Tonner," said Holden sales and marketing executive director Ross McKenzie. "It's an icon car and it will get a lot of attention." "We are conscious of the issue of having a lot of stuff to get out there this year and the difficulty of getting airplay for it all," Mr McKenzie said.

"My view is if you set yourself up to do a concept car for every show you might end up being a bit too try-hard, particularly if its not right on the money as far as something that's fabulous.

"Secondly, they are very expensive, there's not much change out of a million bucks.

"Our job this year is more basic, we do have to put all these new products out there, get them air-time and get them launched properly.

"You might think that sounds a bit mundane and boring, but the fact is that is what we have to do and that's where we have to put our time and our money." Named for its carrying capacity, the One-Tonner was launched in 1971 and was an immediate sales success, along with the rest of the HQ line-up. It remained, essentially unchanged externally, as the heavy duty light commercial staple of successive HJ, HX and HZ Holden model ranges.

In April 1980, the One Tonner was the first of the six-model WB Holden series (it included a panel van, two utilities, Statesman DeVille and Caprice) to be introduced. Facelifted for the first time since 1971, it shared the same front end sheet metal as the utes and panel van.

The still-unique WB One Tonner benefited from the fitment of new XT5 3.3 litre six-cylinder and "blue" 4.2 litre V8 engines introduced with the VC Commodore. At launch, it was priced at $6,940, with a dropside tray option at $809.

One-Tonner ceased production in 1985.

Ford cross-over breaks cover

FORD will headline its Melbourne show act by revealing the production version of its $500 million E265 cross-over four-wheel drive wagon.

But the company will not reveal any mechanical or interior details of the vehicle, which goes on sale early in 2004.

The look of E265 has already been previewed by the R7 concept wagon that was unveiled by Ford at the Melbourne show last year.

The Freestyle FX concept shown by Ford at Detroit in January was another E265 sneak peek, as both vehicles had strong styling input from former Ford Australia design chief Scott Strong.

Ford will also show its forthcoming Fiesta light car for the first time in Melbourne.

Look out for photography and details of the production E265 on www.goauto.com.au on Friday morning.

* Toyota will reveal a locally-built concept car at the Melbourne show on Friday morning. The company is staying quiet on any details of the vehicle.

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