12 Mus­cle News

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

New­shound Paul Gover re­ports on the lat­est from Clay­ton, Port Mel­bourne, Broad­mead­ows and, erm, Gothen­burg, Swe­den. It’s fol­lowed by our soort sec­tion. Sug­gested song to play in your head while read­ing this sec­tion: ‘SOS’ by ABBA.

The death of the Com­modore will not kill Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles. Plan­ning is al­ready un­der­way for the time be­yond the clo­sure of Holden’s fac­tory in Ade­laide and a com­pletely new lineup of HSV hero cars. Ryan Walkin­shaw, who now heads the com­pany founded by his fa­ther Tom, also tells AMC he has big plans to turn Clay­ton into a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional en­gi­neer­ing hub that feeds projects in coun­tries in­clud­ing China, Korea and In­dia.

Walkin­shaw might look like a pretty-boy 26 year-old who is more in­ter­ested in mu­sic than mo­tor­ing, but sit down with him and any such doubts quickly evap­o­rate.

“I’m def­i­nitely Tom’s son. I look fair enough like him. A bit slim­mer and a bit more pa­tient than him,” Walkin­shaw smiles. So, first up, what about the Com­modore? “I wouldn’t dis­count there might be a fu­ture for some form of Com­modore. I wouldn’t dis­count that. There are a lot of things go­ing on,” he says.

“What­ever cars Holden have, we’ll be do­ing our best to de­velop from that. We want people to sit in our car and think it is an HSV, not just a souped-up Com­modore.

“Our fans have high ex­pec­ta­tions and they have to be happy with what we’re do­ing,” he says. And then the first bomb­shell.

“We’re also look­ing at other man­u­fac­tur­ers we can get in­volved with. We’re not tied at the waist to Holden. We’ve been do­ing that for a long time.”

So apart from HSV and cars like the sen­sa­tional GTS, Walkin­shaw plans to dust off the equip­ment in­stalled by his fa­ther at Clay­ton – in­clud­ing a bank of road-car dynos – and re-es­tab­lish links to other brands. In the past, that has in­cluded ev­ery­one from Jaguar to Volvo.

“I want a global turn-key en­gi­neer­ing ac­tiv­ity. That’s a part of my am­bi­tion go­ing foward, to repli­cate that.

“It’s a good in­vest­ment. We’ve just got to find the right pro­duc­tion and the right mar­kets.”

Walkin­shaw and his mother Mar­tine have been reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to Aus­tralia since Tom’s death, with his time now in­clud­ing up to six months each year in Mel­bourne. But he is a mas­sive trav­eller, even though he is happy to pay and fly econ­omy.

How­ever, de­spite the size and am­bi­tions of Walkin­shaw In­ter­na­tional, HSV is still the jewel in the crown. There has been a re­cent change at the top, with Phil Hard­ing mov­ing aside for Tim Jack­son, who had been the com­pany’s di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing.

“HSV is hugely im­por­tant. It’s a con­sid­er­able area of my fam­ily’s in­vest­ment port­fo­lio around the world, and part of the fam­ily busi­ness struc­ture. It’s got a sig­nif­i­cant place in our hearts and his­tory and mem­ory,” Walkin­shaw says.

That in­cludes pro­tect­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing oper­a­tion in Clay­ton, even with­out Ade­laide.

“We’re try­ing to find new ways to man­u­fac­ture here and to keep the work­force em­ployed, and even to ex­pand.

“But there’s not a huge amount I can tell you at the mo­ment as it’s not ready to go.”

He is also un­will­ing to talk about fu­ture model de­vel­op­ments, even though sev­eral Opel In­signias – the mid-sized In­signia, in­clud­ing the

all-wheel drive 2.8-litre turbo V6 OPC model, was of­fered in Aus­tralia un­til the mar­que’s Jan­uary 2014 re­treat – have been spotted down in Clay­ton. But he is open about the changes to Walkin­shaw In­ter­na­tional and its Aus­tralian oper­a­tion.

“The whole phi­los­o­phy is go­ing to change. We have to change people’s idea of what we do at Clay­ton. We want a global cul­ture, and not just stick to what we’ve been liv­ing in. It might take people out of their com­fort zone, but our guys are say­ing how ex­cited they are. We know how good we are. We want to use our tal­ents.”

So, what’s the bot­tom line for HSV, firstly through to 2017 and then be­yond the life of the cur­rent Com­modore?

“HSV is Holden re­lated. We want to be able to con­tinue do­ing what were do­ing, so as long as Holden continues bring­ing cars into Aus­tralia we’re go­ing to be there.

“But it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily need to be a V8. The world is chang­ing. You can get very sim­i­lar per­for­mance now from turbo V6s. We have to be will­ing not to dis­count fu­ture op­tions.”

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