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Cars & Motorcycles

Wheels May 2020

Wheels is Australia’s original motoring magazine. Launched in 1953, we’ve been trusted by generations of Australians to provide entertaining and forthright opinions on the good, the bad and the ugly of new and used cars. A world-class car mag with a formidable international reputation, Wheels covers the full gamut of cars – from sports cars to four-wheel-drives, economy to family cars – but it also covers the people, personalities and the power plays behind one of the world’s most dynamic industries.

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6 Issues

in this issue

3 min.

WHOEVER COINED THE PHRASE “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” must have been a miserable old bastard, but boy, he’d be laughing now. Like the rest of you, my life in ‘lockdown’ means the only contact I have with the wider world is when I race into Coles to grab supplies and to dive for the last bunch of broccoli. Living in ‘iso’ has required some adjustments, though an unexpected positive is that I’m now a Jedi Master at Jenga. Less appealing has been the seemingly limitless amount of time I’ve had to pine for the things I used to take for granted. The freedom to jump in the car and go for a drive is at the top of that list. Anyone else suddenly feel like they…

4 min.
open heir out to reclaim throne

IT WAS, in its heyday, the Mercedes-Benz model that represented the zenith of style and desirability offered by Germany’s oldest car company. The 300 SL ‘gullwing’ of 1954 remains an enduring icon, while the later W113 generation remained in production for a staggering 18 years. The SL was a model that arguably peaked with the R129 generation; the Bruno Sacco-designed masterpiece built from 1989 to 2002 that epitomised fast, luxurious, open-topped motoring. But like a fading Hollywood star, the SL has long been in decline. In 2012, for example, Benz shifted nearly 5000 SLs in the USA (the model’s largest market); last year, that tally was under 1700. So how to reverse this? Step one, hand over the development of the new model to Mercedes-AMG, and use the Affalterbach division’s expertise with all-aluminium…

3 min.
the rebirth of hsv

HOLDEN IS GONE but its parent, General Motors, will live on in Australia. In a deal that could be announced by the time you are reading this, the Walkinshaw Group is expected to represent GM in Australia. The plan was flagged when the axing of Holden was announced on February 17, with references made to GM Specialty Vehicles (GMSV) in a media release and a press conference. “Although it’s not firmed up formally, our intent and desire is to stay in the market, albeit in a different format and a different model with the GM Specialty Vehicles,” GM International Operations Senior Vice-President Julian Blissett told the media. While the Walkinshaw Group wasn’t named specifically, the company itself and the family it’s named after have deep ties to both Holden and GM. The late Tom…

1 min.
camaro: can it make the grid?

COMPLICATING THE future of the Camaro in Australia is the push to make it the replacement for the Holden ZB Commodore in Supercars racing. The Walkinshaw Andretti United racing team – in which the Walkinshaw family has a share, along with Michael Andretti and Zak Brown’s United Autosports – has researched the development of a Supercar based on the Camaro exterior. It says it can’t retain its visual integrity without modification to the roll-hoop; otherwise you end up with a humpy version caricature. Think what the Ford Mustang Supercar looks like compared to the road car. So getting the rules changed is one challenge; the other is who would control the homologation program for the car. Back in the good old days, the Walkinshaws ran the Holden Racing Team and ruled the Supercars world.…

2 min.
operation: save holden’s workers

THERE’S A NEW name that motoring enthusiasts need to take note of: VinFast. The Vietnamese-owned car maker has thrown a lifeline to Holden employees scrambling for jobs after GM’s decision to axe the brand. The company has been snapping up Australia’s best engineers following the end of local manufacturing – and with the shutters falling at Holden, leaving 800 workers in the lurch, it’s seizing the opportunity to hire more. It’s estimated that a few hundred Australians will be employed by the end of the hiring spree. VinFast is owned by Vietnam’s largest private business, Vingroup, with assets totalling $35 billion. It has started up an Australian engineering hub, VinFast Engineering Australia, with a number of ex-Holden, Ford, and Toyota employees on the payroll. The man in charge is ex-GM heavyweight Jim DeLuca, and…

3 min.
warranty wars

FIVE IS THE new three when it comes to new-car warranties in Australia. It was a change that seemingly happened overnight, with almost every mainstream brand in the country making the switch last year. But there were some holdouts – mainly premium brands – who held on to the three-year warranty period. BMW and Audi have remained staunch in the wake of Merc’s announcement Then along came Mercedes-Benz Australia, who made the shock announcement last month that it would switch to a five-year warranty for all its cars, including AMG. While it may seem like the kind of call that can be made with a flick of the pen, an industry insider working for a top-10-selling brand told Wheels the move from three to five years cost the company millions. “This is because the car…