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Holden quits: HSV commits to locally tuned heroes

Four-pot banger: HSV says the Opel Astra-based VXR was “moderately successful” as part of the performance brand’s first dip into four-cylinder models.

The go-fast arm of Holden says it will survive in a world without Aussie-built cars


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12 Dec 2013

HOLDEN Special Vehicles (HSV) – Holden’s performance-car division and the maker of the most powerful production car ever built in Australia, the 430kW GTS – believes its brand will live on beyond 2018, despite losing the vehicles which underpin its entire model range.

Using the VF Commodore and derivatives as the basis of its high-performance sedan, wagon and ute range, HSV is run by the Walkinshaw Group and controlled by the family of British touring car champion and HSV founder, the late Tom Walkinshaw.

HSV marketing manager Tim Jackson told GoAuto today that it was unfortunate Holden’s workers were impacted by the car-maker’s decision, but said HSV’s core philosophy would carry on.

“Our job is to deliver a great car into the marketplace,” Mr Jackson said. “The context of whether it is made here or overseas isn’t the key factor the key factor is can we deliver a great car into the marketplace?“From our perspective it is slightly different, but our intent is that we will continue to deliver a great product.”

Mr Jackson said the loss of access to Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground – previous generations of HSV products have been developed intensively using the car-maker’s test facilities – would have little impact on future product rollouts beyond Holden’s manufacturing exit in 2017.

“You can still do work,” he said. “We can still find different places to do it – different racetracks or (the Australian Automotive Research Centre proving ground at) Anglesea.

“That’s just one of the many things we will work through over the next three to four years that the R&D work we do will continue to go on.”

HSV has toyed with non-Commodore-based vehicles in the past, rebadging a turbocharged four-cylinder Opel Astra OPC performance hatchback as the HSV VXR, which Mr Jackson described as “moderately successful”.

He said the specialty car-maker could make a return to that strategy once the locally made Commodore was no longer available.

“We don’t rule out any platform or any formula,” Mr Jackson said. “Our feeling is – and I think when we launched Gen-F we went through them – there needs to be some uniqueness in terms of design, it needs to have great performance, and with a nice splash of technology.

“They’re the parameters we work on to be an HSV, and they can work on any platform from our perspective.”

He said the current Gen-F range, launched in June this year with the supercharged 6.2-litre V8 GTS as the range-topper, would continue to evolve – although the details of that evolution are yet to be revealed.

“When we’re ready to say what we’re doing, we’ll let everyone know what we’re doing.”

In an interview on ABC radio this morning, Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux was asked specifically about the future of HSV and the company's continued involvement in V8 Supercar racing.

However, the Holden chief commented only on its commitment to Australian motorsport.

“We have a huge commitment to racing and I expect that commitment to continue going forward,” he said.

GoAuto believes the contract for the rights for Walkinshaw to use the HSV name come up for renewal in about two years’ time, or about a year before Holden plans to make its exit from Australia as a manufacturer.

According to IP Australia, the HSV name is owned by Detroit-based General Motors.

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