Vale Vin Kean

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Sport -

Vin­cent Kean was the Ade­laide busi­ness­man and mo­tor trade iden­tity who fi­nanced the de­vel­op­ment of the HDT Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles’ first ‘Brock Com­modore’ model and set Peter Brock up in the busi­ness of build­ing hot road-go­ing Hold­ens.

Kean – who grew United Mo­tors to be­come one of Holden’s two big­gest sell­ing deal­er­ships na­tion­ally – was happy to re­main be­hind the scenes, leav­ing Brock as the front man for both his rac­ing en­deav­ours and ve­hi­cle en­hance­ment op­er­a­tions.

Brock, be­fore his death in 2006, dropped plenty of clues in in­ter­views that Kean played a big­ger part than any­one let on at the time, the early 1980s. HDT SV pro­duc­tion man­ager John Har­vey told AMC that he be­lieved “Vin Kean never got the credit he de­served for what he did back then.”

Kean, the son of a ship’s cap­tain, was born in Syd­ney in 1933 and raised in Ade­laide. His mo­tor in­dus­try ca­reer be­gan in the late 1950s at Port Ade­laide Holden dealer, Smith Mo­tors. Later, while work­ing in Mel­bourne, he re­ceived a call from the chair­man of United Mo­tors Hold­ings Lim­ited to run SA’s ma­jor Holden dis­trib­u­tor. This prompted a much de­sired re­turn to Ade­laide for the Kean clan in 1967 and set Vin on the path to be­com­ing the ma­jor Holden player in SA.

By the mid 1980s Kean had pur­chased Holden’s Tas­ma­nian dis­trib­u­tor­ship and built up two Mel­bourne deal­er­ships, Don­caster Holden and South City Holden. Group turnover at this time was a mas­sive $450 mil­lion per year. Kean’s busi­ness then di­ver­si­fied into Euro­pean pres­tige brands.

“I’ve spent my whole life com­mit­ted to the re­tail mo­tor trade,” Kean told AMC in 2011 for is­sue #60’s cover story. “I felt a great deal of grat­i­tude to Holden. When I was asked to do what I was asked to do by John Rock in 1979 [ED: to se­cure the fu­ture of the HDT rac­ing team and un­der­pin Brock’s road car busi­ness], I said ‘yes’, as I be­lieved in the brand.”

Vin Kean was 84 when he passed away in late Au­gust.

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