Winning start for Holden

By David Thomson on Sat, 10 Mar 2018

Win on a Sunday, sell on a Monday.

Originating in 1960s America, this clever maxim of the automotive industry is a succinct summary of the key reason car-makers go motor racing.

Good news for Holden then, when Kiwi ace Shane van Gisbergen gave the ‘‘new'' ZB- Commodore its maiden win at last weekend's V8 Supercars 2018 season-opener, the Adelaide 500.

Well, up to a point at least: all V8 supercars - whatever badge they wear - are based on a common underlying chassis and suspension set up, and are powered (for now) by a 5.0 litre V8 engine. The ‘‘new'' in this case refers mainly to the fact that the car's bodyshell - like that of all Holdens in this year's series - has been updated to resemble that of the new ZB.

That, to be fair, is not a bad start for Holden's new Commodore on the race scene, especially as more radical change is afoot; van Gisbergen's team, Triple Eight Race Engineering, is developing a twin-turbo V6 version of the Holden race car. This new machine will appear as a ‘‘wildcard entry'' on selected rounds of this year's championship ahead of a full introduction in 2019.

As it happens, the ‘‘win on a Sunday, sell on a Monday'' quote has its origins with a Ford dealer. On that note, a highlight of last weekend was seeing a gleaming black 1958 Edsel out and about on Saturday morning.

I mentioned the significance of the Edsel to the passengers in my car and, to my surprise, only one had a clue as to what I was on about.

To cut a long story short, the Edsel was Ford's grand 1950s bid to create a new semi-premium brand, better than a regular Ford, but not quite as upmarket as a Mercury.

Naming the new brand after Henry Ford's son probably wasn't the greatest of starts. Beyond that, too much new technology, production problems, quirky styling and an economic recession combined to render the Edsel a spectacular sales failure. The greatest wisdom Ford probably showed in the whole Edsel saga was killing off the brand in 1960.

Since then, Edsel has become an object lesson in corporate commercial failure, and an example to learn from but, hopefully, never emulate.

Despite its flaws and failure, the Edsel was actually ahead of its time in many ways, and fewer than 10,000 of the roughly 110,000 cars built still survive. For those reasons, if nothing else, it was an absolute pleasure to see one such example gliding along Dunedin's Princes St last weekend.

David Thomson