GM whiz homes in
Holden’s design guru is quitting Detroit for a new role here, writes Paul Gover
THE original hero of Holden design, Mike Simcoe, is coming home to keep his family Australian. After six years in the US, where he rose to the top job on all-American body design and became gatekeeper for the Chevrolet brand, Simcoe will be back at Fishermans Bend for 2011.
Simcoe designed the born-again Holden Monaro, as well as the Elfin Clubman and Streamliner, and was tapped for the Detroit assignment because of his success in the AsiaPacific design field.
Now he is coming home but not just to head Holden Design, which is now a global success and source for a range of General Motors’ concept cars for the US, Europe and China.
Instead, a new job has been created for him: executive director of General Motors International Operations Design.
‘‘It’s time. I need to come home,’’ Simcoe tells carsGuide.
Apart from his family’s needs, the return to Melbourne will allow him to reconnect with his classic car collection and give him more time on his motorcycles.
Simcoe headed Holden Design until 2004 and led the small team that secretly designed a coupe version of the VT Commodore, which became the Monaro in 2001. It was given an instant green light by the company’s then chairman, Peter Hanenberger.
The transplanted German also backed Simcoe and the talented design group on several projects, including the Commodore ute that once featured at the Detroit Motor Show in the US.
Simcoe also stamped his personality on his cars with special colours, including several that became signature colours for a particular model of the Commodore.
His new role will focus on operations in Korea and Australia, overseeing the design direction of a generation of new cars.
‘‘This role will . . . bring with me many of the learnings from my time with GM in the US,’’ says Simcoe, who has been with GM since 1983, when he joined Holden on the road to the design director’s job in 2001.
More recently he has been involved with a string of new vehicles in the US, including the GMC Terrain, Buick LaCrosse, the Cadillac CTS and the Australian-engineered Chevrolet Camaro.
‘‘It’s time. I need to come home,’’ GM design whiz Mike Simcoe says.