Vale Vin Kean
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.