IN A week when General Motors confirmed that there will be no “affordable V8 sedan” in its line-up after the VFII Commodore shuffles off, GM’s German arm Opel has revealed the Vivaro Surf concept, harking back to an idea born with the HQ Holden Sandman in the early 70s. What makes it surfy? Roof racks (for boards), tinted windows (for privacy), blue interior lights (for mood-setting), and mildly psychedelic paint (not sure why).
The Vivaro is just one of many new models that Holden is expected to bring into its range to fill the gap left by the locally made Commodore, which has led some pundits to speculate that the Surf version may also be destined for Australia and dubbed the Sandman. We’re not so sure, given the outrage that the ute and wagon-based VF Sandman was met with in some quarters. The Vivaro Surf scores points for actually being a van, but loses points for, well, not being based on an Australian-made passenger car.
Sure, the VF Sandman earned Holden some valuable publicity, but at what point does the ‘any publicity is good publicity’ adage start to turn? The question of how Holden leverages the power of its heritage in the years to come is surely a vexed one. While imported Holdens have sat happily in showrooms beside their Aussie-made brethren for decades, it will be difficult for GM to make much of Holden’s Australian-ness when there is zero local product in their range – though the continued role of Holden’s Melbourne design studio may count for something.
And with the next-generation Commodore confirmed as not having a V8 option, how does GM approach the marketing of the “V8 sports car” they are promising to bring to Oz? Given that it will be almost certainly the Camaro or Corvette, there seems little sense in calling the car anything but a Chevrolet – a Holden Camaro just doesn’t have the same ring and a Holden Corvette sounds even worse. Word around the campfire is that the Corvette is the likely starter, as the current Camaro isn’t available in right hand drive.