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Joshua Dowling
October 3, 2007

HOLDEN'S "Mr Commodore", Tony Hyde, has announced his retirement after 39 years with the company and outlasting nine managing directors.

Mr Hyde, who turns 60 next February, was instrumental in Holden's transition from the Kingswood to the Commodore in 1978 and has overseen all Commodore models since.

Holden has sold more than 2 million Commodores. Despite rising petrol prices, it has been Australia's biggest selling car for 12 years and is on track to be the top-seller again this year.

Mr Hyde, who studied at the then Caulfield Technical College, joined the company in 1968 and his first job was behind a desk rather than a wheel. As a technical report writer he gathered information from engineers before passing it to the typing pool.

He eventually got his wish to drive cars for a living, spending most of his time at Holden's proving ground. Highlights include developing the company's first four-wheel disc-brake system in the 1970s.

Mr Hyde was a senior engineer on early Commodores and became chief engineer in 1994. Yesterday he described his job as "the best in the automotive industry in Australia", which is why he is not leaving until December.

His proudest achievement was the development of the modern Monaro. Mr Hyde likes it so much that he bought the Monaro he had as a company car. It will sit in his garage next to his 1976 Corvette.

"Developing the Monaro was an absolutely outstanding experience," he said. "It was Holden working at its best, doing a lot with a little. Some of the subterfuge we got up to to make things happen was probably more risky than we realised, but this was worth it."

The Monaro was exported to North America, the world's biggest car market. It was sold as a Pontiac GTO in the US between 2004 and 2006 and it helped bring Holden to the attention of senior executives at General Motors in North America.

Later this month Holden begins exporting Commodore sedans to the US. Mr Hyde says this export deal may not have happened if not for the Monaro.

Holden's next project is a new version of the Chevrolet Camaro, to be based on the same underpinnings, such as floor and suspension, as a Commodore. The Camaro will be built in a GM factory in Canada from next year, but the design and engineering work is being completed at Holden's headquarters in Port Melbourne.

Mr Hyde, a keen golfer, is looking forward to driving on the golf course rather than to work.

"That's why all Commodores have a big boot, to fit my golf clubs in them," he joked.
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