GMH Boss Buys Classic FC Holden
Remember the story of the bloke who liked the shaver so much he bought the company? Well, there's a new twist to this logic. GM Holden's vice president and chairman, Mark Reuss, liked the company so much he bought the car. Not just any Holden: a classic.
He spokes to us about the car on the assurance he would be portrayed as a car buff, not a car salesman.
In fact, it's Mark's second Holden classic since arriving in Australia to take the reins of the company that produces `Australia's Own' on February 1, 2008.
The first, was indeed the first. A 48-215 or FX Holden, the car that launched the Holden name in Australian-made mass produced cars in 1948.
He later sold the FX and it was replaced by this magnificent example of the FC.
Mark showed us around the car at the conclusion of the launch of the new Holden Cruze. When we arrived at the launch his car was parked obscurely with all the other Holdens. The only clue to its owner was the number plate: GMHMLR. Like any Holden fan, he's glad to have found an unmolested early-model car in near original condition.
“Look at the interior, it's original, just magnificent,” he said. We look, and it is.
He lifts the bonnet and it's as clean under there as the latest Commodore rolling off the production line. The `grey' motor is still grey and the firewall black and clean. It really is a nice car. It all looks fresh and new. Even the bonnet springs are immaculate, as is the large round air filter atop the carby.
“I've been doing work on it for a while now,” he said.
“But there's still a way to go.” He looks again at the interior.
“I put in seat belts for obvious reasons, but that's about all I've done to the in there.”
The car was apparently give a respray a couple of years ago and the exterior looks fantastic with white over bright red, separated by the flash down the side.
The car's lines are as straight as a dye. In that late afternoon Melbourne Sun, the chrome glistens off the wide grille, which bears the hallmarks of a close relative of Chevrolet. Mark's enthusiasm for the car borders on the infectious. He will talk all day about it. That he's a car enthusiast is not doubted. And while he spends whatever time in Australia GM allows, he's making the most of the Australian experience. Part of that is taking in the history of GMH first hand.
“He's been really quick to pick up on what Australia is all about,” said a GMH manager.
Earlier he conducted the media `walk around' the new Cruze talking about the technicalities of the car and the hidden build quality. This is an unusual occurrence from any head of an Australian car company. Yet, he does it with ease, and with passion. It is refreshing.
It should come as no surprise as he has a degree in engineering, which has been used extensively at GM, as well as a masters degree in business administration. As an engineer he has worked in the field on NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness), been a project engineer in the development of ride and handling for GM luxury brands and was executive director of MGM's performance division in June 2001.
For now though, he is the man guiding GM Holden though it's roughest patch since Holden started making cars back in 1948, or perhaps since GM took over Holden in the early 1930s. The remarkable side of this is that despite his obvious day-to-day involvement with GM and it's current situation, he is looking to the past, at Holden's roots, to understand the company, its history and its products.
If ever Holden need a leader with passion for the product, the time is now.
Unfortunately Mark has moved back to the US, taking his beloved FC with him.