Walkinshaw in a walk-out
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.