Walkinshaw to branch out

Walkinshaw Automotive has revealed it is casting its net well beyond Holden as it looks to find replacements for its Commodore-based engine modification business.

Holden announced early this year that it would quit its Australian manufacturing business in 2017, robbing Walkinshaw of its hot-tune staple, the Commodore large car.

However, Walkinshaw general manager Tony Harris told Wheels the performance-enhancing skunkworks is deep in talks with several car brands about expanding its aftermarket engine modification portfolio – and it is already working on a number of projects.

An opportunity for Walkinshaw, he says, follows Holden’s announcement earlier this month that it will add a number of Opel-sourced performance models to its showroom from next year, potentially robbing the car maker’s own HSV hot-shop of the potential to add the halo vehicles to its line-up.

Several rebadged Opel models will join the Holden line-up, including the Astra GTC and VXR (a rebadged Astra OPC wearing HSV’s former name for the car), and an Insignia OPC mid-size sedan.

The Opel brand was unexpectedly pulled from the Australian market last August in a move that Holden said was not linked to the decision four months later to shut down the Australian manufacturing business.

“We’ve always had these opportunities there (to add more marques to the aftermarket tuning portfolio),” Harris said.

“I think the fact we’ve limited ourselves as far as Walkinshaw Automotive is concerned to just the Commodore has probably restricted us in our growth.

“These types of vehicles (the Opel OPC range) entering the marketplace – whether it is a GM product, a Ford product – certainly it opens a lot of doors for us in terms of opportunity.”

Harris said the company is “quite excited” about the changes happening in the automotive landscape, which will see Ford, Holden and Toyota all quitting local manufacturing by late 2017, ending the era of the Australian born-and-bred muscle car.

“We’re looking forward to a lot of these things (new models) coming out,” he said.

“We’re working with other manufacturers as we speak on various other programs.

“What we’ve effectively done with our business is we’ve taken Walkinshaw Performance and made that purely all about V8 Commodore.

“We’ve created another group, which is Walkinshaw Automotive Group, which is very similar to the TWR (motorsport and race engineering) model, where we can work with manufacturers on bespoke programs, whether it be racing, product or whatever it might be, just for the domestic market.”

Harris said Walkinshaw has a five-year plan in place that accounts for the end of local car manufacturing, and its future is looking “very strong”.

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