Holden Celebrates Australian Automotive Design with National Gallery of Victoria


March 11, 2015 By Mike Lee
Last updated on August 3, 2015

Holden Torana GTR-X Concept, 1970

  • Shifting Gear: Design Innovation and the Australian Car opens at National Gallery of Victoria Friday 6 March
  • Holden partner and contributor to the exhibition, celebrating Australian automotive design
  • Holden EFIJY, GTR-X Torana, HQ Monaro and Hurricane on show
  • GM Australia designed, award-winning Buick Avenir concept car clay model also on show

Holden has announced an exciting new partnership with the upcoming National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) exhibition, Shifting Gear.  The exhibition is a celebration of design and innovation in the Australian automotive industry and will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia from 6 March to 12 July, 2015.

Holden’s Director of Communications, Sean Poppitt said that partnering with the NGV was a great collaboration as both have a long history of exciting and innovative design.

“Holden Design has produced some truly iconic and ground-breaking vehicles, most recently the Buick Avenir which took centre stage this year at the North American International Auto Show.  To be able to showcase them in such a fantastic setting as this is both fitting and very exciting,” said Mr. Poppitt.

“The exhibit provides us a wonderful opportunity to showcase these fantastic vehicles and, in turn, the incredible design talent we have at Holden.  It also gives the Australian public a unique opportunity to see these world class vehicles up close and personal in one place.”

In addition to partnering the exhibition, Holden is also a significant contributor of vehicles and of senior design personalities who will feature in various speaking opportunities during the exhibit.  Celebrated Vice President of GM International (GMI) Design, Michael Simcoe and GM Australia (GMA) Design Director, Richard Ferlazzo have provided a wealth of support and information to the exhibition, allowing car and design lovers to fully appreciate their work.

GMA Design Director, Richard Ferlazzo said the cars on display were a testament to the automotive design talent in Australia, past, present and future.

“The exhibition features some very important cars in Holden’s design history.  The very first Holden concept, the Hurricane and the subsequent GTR-X Torana, demonstrates how forward-thinking our designers have always been, and that is something still at large today, as evidenced by the concept of the Buick Avenir,” said Mr Ferlazzo.

“Our current design team includes some of the most talented people I have ever worked with, and we are all looking forward to playing a significant role in the future of GM Australia design here in Melbourne.”

One of the most interesting vehicles on display is a clay model of the award-winning, Buick Avenir.  Designed and built in Australia, Avenir leverages Buick’s unique styling legacy to explore a vision for a modern flagship sedan.  The clay model on display represents an important stage in the design process, as the first opportunity designers get to see and touch the full size car.

The Buick Avenir recently picked up the ‘Best Concept Vehicle 2015’ award at the North American International Auto Show, and perfectly illustrates the importance of Holden’s global design studio in GM’s global plans.

NGV Director, Tony Ellwood, said Holden’s support had been invaluable to execute an exciting exhibition – the first of its kind in Australia – and having the recently revealed Avenir was a real coup.

“This exhibition is a real celebration of Australian automotive design, and Holden plays an important role in that.  Holden is particularly renowned for developing exciting concept cars and it is great to be able to display so many of them in one place,” Mr Elwood said.

“We are also thrilled to have the Buick Avenir model here in its first Australian display.

Shifting Gear will run from 6 March through to 12 July, giving car and design fans plenty of time to visit what promises to be a stunning exhibition.”

Holden is joined in partnering Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car by Principal Partner, RACV and Design Partner, RMIT.

Vehicles on Display

Hurricane (1969)

The futuristic research vehicle was an experiment “to study design trend, propulsion systems and other long range developments” stole headlines and dropped jaws nationwide when it debuted at the 1969 Melbourne Motor Show.  Code named RD 001; the Hurricane is a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive, two-seater sports car which incorporates a remarkable array of innovative features and technology, much of it way ahead of its time.

Features such as electronic digital instrument displays, station-seeking radio, automatic temperature control air conditioning, rear vision camera and an automated route finder were all showcased in this ground-breaking vehicle 42 years ago.  Many of these technologies have only recently made their way into mass production, demonstrating Holden’s remarkable foresight into both design and engineering technology.

Torana GTR-X (1970)

Following hot on the heels of the 1969 Hurricane concept, GM Holden’s concept car design expertise was once again showcased with the Torana GTR-X.  The stunning fiberglass-bodied coupe was a stylistic match for any of the exotic European cars of the era, however never made production.

Torana GTR-X is a stylish sports coupe that still demands attention, with its long, sleek hood and low wedge-shaped grille.  Its streamlined exterior takes cues from various cars including the American Stingray Corvette, whilst its concealed headlights and recessed turning lights further represent a futuristic design focus.

EFIJY (2005)

A wild 21st Century hot rod reincarnating Australia’s most famous car, the FJ Holden, EFIJY is a radical pillarless custom coupe boasting V8 Supercar power under the bonnet, Chevrolet Corvette underbody and state-of-the-art automotive technology throughout.  The ‘Soprano Purple’ paintwork highlights its curvaceous 5.2-metre body, reinterpreting the classic design cues of the iconic 1953 FJ Holden.  It delivers retro, mumbo and gizmos in one glorious package.

The design team cleverly incorporated FJ design cues into EFIJY’s radical custom coupe body, acknowledging the most important aspects of the iconic 1953 release.  The famously familiar FJ grille looms larger than life, fronting a low, wide and handsome body extravagantly elongated and brimming with retro chic style.

Obviously not intended for production, EFIJY has been a passionate side project for some Holden Design team members.

Buick Avenir clay model (2015)

This stunning concept vehicle was revealed at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).  Designed in collaboration with GM North America, and built at GM Australia’s advanced design studio in Port Melbourne, the Avenir – French for future – leverages Buick’s unique styling legacy to explore a vision for a modern flagship sedan.

A striking design statement, Avenir embraces Buick’s rich design heritage of creating exquisite sculptures, precise in their design and beautifully proportioned.  Avenir’s signature sweep-spear body side motif and nod to the “boat-tail” styling of the 1971-73 Riviera are modern interpretations of classic Buick cues.