Mike Simcoe, the Australian styling guru personally recruited by GM’s global product boss to head worldwide design, says he is keeping an eye on Australia as Holden makes the transition from manufacturer to importer.
It’s now emerged that Simcoe was hand-picked for his design post by Mark Reuss, who was the president of GM Holden in Fishermans Bend before being recalled to the USA during GM’s near-death experience in bankruptcy.
Reuss is now the second-highest-ranked executive in GM, after CEO Mary Barra, and is a genuine ‘car guy’ with a lineup of classic Corvettes in his garage at home. He was a high-profile visitor to the Indianapolis 500 and even travelled to Le Mans in June to help push the factory Corvettes onto the starting grid before driving one of the retired racers at the Goodwood Fesival of Speed.
As Simcoe settles into his new brief he confesses his passion for good cars in Australia. He will not have a deciding vote but could help any push for a new-age V8 – either Camaro or Corvette – to take over as the European replacement for the Commodore switches to four-cylinder and turbo V6 power.
“If you’re asking me about a rear-wheel drive performance V8… I understand the things this market needs, so I will certainly help wherever I can,” says Simcoe.
“Some people at Holden have already asked the question.”
Simcoe’s priority for Australia, as part of his global brief, is to keep the company relevant and appealing.
“I recognise the need for a nice product that creates performance aspiration or aspiration for the brand itself, and I will help make that happen. But I won’t do it in an irrational way. I was intensely loyal and passionate about Holden, but I was always rational and I will remain that.”