OPENING day of the 2011 Detroit Motor Show is a reminder of the stars of Australian motoring. An impressive presentation on the future of Ford has Jac Nasser’s name stamped all over it.
Long before anyone got to work on today’s One Ford strategy, he was trying to pull the company together in a centralised product-driven push into the 21st century.
The Melbourne man heads my personal list of Aussie motoring heroes.
Peter Brock is another hero, and Australia Day next week reminds me of the work he did so often, and so well, to help celebrate the occasion.
Back in Detroit, design guru Mike Simcoe is prowling theGMstand. He’s a legend in the Australian car business— the Monaro alone guarantees his spot.
Kevin Wale is also a hero. He is now running GMChina, the toughest and most important offshore posting in the business.
Turning back the clock, there are lots of Australian heroes.
Senator John Button re-wrote Australian carmaking rules in the 1980s. The success of the business can be traced back to his blueprint, as well as the current Industry Minister Kim Carr.
The late Geoff Polites was the true superstar at Ford. He will be remembered for bulldogging the Territory through the Detroit system. Sadly, Polites died too young. And the dynamic duo of John Conomos and Bob Miller drove Toyota to No.1 in Australia.
The list of Aussie heroes must also include Sir Laurence Hartnett, the father of the original Holden, and marketing guru John Bagshaw.
Then there are the motorsport legends— Sir Jack Brabham, Alan Jones, Mick Doohan, Mark Webber, Troy Bayliss, Chad Reed and Marcos Ambrose— all of whom prove Australians can match the best in the world.
My personal guides are led by the late Evan Green, a journalist and author who headed public relations at Leyland and Holden, and Peter Robinson who still stands tall at the top of Australian motoring journalism as an inspiration far beyond his leadership at Wheels magazine.