GM whiz homes in

Holden’s de­sign guru is quit­ting Detroit for a new role here, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

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.

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