Walkin­shaw in a walk-out

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cars Guide -

IT DIDN’T take long for Tom Walkin­shaw to make an im­pact in Melbourne last week. The top man at Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles had barely ar­rived from Lon­don be­fore his lo­cal boss was clear­ing his desk.

Walkin­shaw and Scott Grant each say the de­ci­sion is a joint one, not a sack­ing, and there is good­will on both sides.

Walkin­shaw has even agreed to pay the mov­ing ex­penses for Grant and his fam­ily if they de­cide to re­turn to Syd­ney, where Grant was a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive with Toy­ota be­fore tak­ing up the job with HSV in Clay­ton.

Still, the change at the top raises im­por­tant ques­tions about HSV and its di­rec­tion.

Per­for­mance cars are clearly in the sights of a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple — even car com­pany bean-coun­ters, but par­tic­u­larly gree­nies.

Grant ap­plied suc­cess­ful Toy­ota man­age­ment tech­niques at HSV and even cham­pi­oned a pro­to­type diesel car, us­ing a nonHolden pow­er­plant.

But the 20th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions for HSV have been a fizzer on a lot of fronts, even if the W427 sets a new stan­dard for home­grown mus­cle.

‘‘I think we need to put the ‘spe­cial’ back into Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles,’’ is one in­sider’s re­ac­tion to the change last week.

The man who has taken — ac­tu­ally re­taken — the reins is Phil Hard­ing, a one-time HSV en­gi­neer­ing chief who was CEO be­fore Grant was re­cruited.

He had planned to re­turn to Bri­tain to work at Walkin­shaw Per­for­mance, but was con­vinced to re­turn to HSV to add some sta­bil­ity.

LGrant talks hap­pily about his time at HSV but says his de­par­ture was trig­gered by a fun­da­men­tal mis-match of his plans with Walkin­shaw’s vi­sion.

‘‘We de­cided, to­gether, that it would be bet­ter for me to move on,’’ he says.

Win some, lose some: the W427 has set a new stan­dard but there are still prob­lems at HSV.

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