Holden performance guru leaves to make caravans
THE creator of the most powerful car in Australia— the $100,000 supercharged Holden Special Vehicles GTS— has shocked the car industry by resigning to take up a job with a caravan maker.
Joel Stoddart, one of Australia’s most respected automotive boffins, has quit as HSV’s chief engineer just days before his latest creations started rolling off the production line.
The 15-year veteran was one of HSV’s longest serving senior executives. The sudden exit stunned industry observers, who viewed it as ominous— but HSV says Stoddart’s departure is not an indication that it is scaling back its engineering operations.
Holden boss Mike Devereux said earlier this year the VF Commodore would end in 2016. It is likely Holden will replace it with a globally developed frontdrive four-cylinder sedan, believed to have little potential for the performance car division.
HSV sales and marketing director Tim Jackson says:
HSV is categorically not scaling back its engineering operations. Joel has been a fantastic asset to HSV and we’re sad to see him leave. But as a great a leader, he left a great team behind him.’’
HSV immediately filled the chief engineer role, appointing Graeme Dusting, who has worked there for more than a decade.
Stoddart’s new job is head of research and development at Jayco, the biggest caravan maker in Australia, producing about 10,000 new caravans and motorhomes a year. It was sad to leave HSV after all these years and we parted on good terms, but it was time for a change,’’ Stoddart says.
I have a lot of fond memories. The highlights for me were obviously the latest HSV GTS, the limited edition W427 and the all-wheel-drive Coupe4 project.’’
Stoddart joined HSV as a project engineer in 1998 and spent 51/ years as chief engineer.
He was the main driving force behind getting the supercharged V8 into the latest GTS. At several stages during development, HSV contemplated dropping the idea.
Ahitch in time: HSV chief engineer Joel Stoddart, below, is leaving behind supercharged V8s at Holden but
he’ll still be in the vanguard