When Cadillac executives began researching what would become the V-Series performance line, they looked to Holden Special Vehicles (HSV; www.hsv.com.au) for advice. An independently owned performance brand that tricks out GM's Holden division vehicles for Australian enthusiasts, HSV has modified over 50,000 cars since its inception in 1988, and sells them at premiums as high as $50,000 above the sticker price. Need more of a reason to travel to Melbourne? Try this: According to John Crennan, HSV's chairman, "63% of our customers say they wouldn't have bought a GM product if it weren't for HSV." And one of those models has an average buyer's age of 25. You can imagine what the Cadillac executives were thinking, and why they strongly considered having HSV run the V-Series program.
That may prove to be a missed opportunity since, according to Crennan, one of HSV's key strengths is its independence from the GM bureaucracy. It can move quickly to develop new products. Despite having no financial stake in HSV, GM effectively treats it like an in-house entity when it comes to development. Holden provides early clay models of new vehicles so HSV can begin developing performance parts long before the base model hits showrooms.—KEW