Hidden Talents

Published: 27 January 2004

Pictured: HSV.

Coupé 4 is the latest in a string of sensational HSV concept cars that also serve to showcase the remarkable talents of the in-house studio crew who create them.

The nature of their work, beavering away in a high security studio deep within HSV’s Clayton headquarters, makes this team somewhat the unsung heroes of HSV’s awesome show car displays.

“Everybody at HSV knows about the studio but few people really know what goes on in here”, says studio team leader, Mark Holden. “They see the finished product but not how much work goes into producing the concept.”

The studio team comprises just three permanent members – Mark Holden, Dave Drodge and Jon Williams – but is supplemented by specialist contractors when workloads demand. Together these craftsmen employ a range of rare skills, such as clay modelling and fabricating, to create vehicles like Coupé 4 from scratch.

“Coupé 4 is a good example of what we do because that was done purely freehand, there was no CAD data”, Mark explains. “The designer, Julian Quincey, sent us a concept drawing and that’s what we worked from.”

“We built a series of armatures (wooden frames to support the clay), then added clay and started hand carving the shape Julian wanted. We sent him digital photos each day and he’d send back small changes.”

Achieving the desired result took literally weeks of painstaking work. Does it also take a perfectionist attitude?

“Yes, I think it does – you have to be very, very fussy with the surface. The skill comes in getting the surface perfectly smooth because when it’s painted with an automotive finish any imperfections will really stand out.”

“Moulds are taken from the clay using a plaster product and then used to make parts which are surface finished and trimmed. The gaps are nicely aligned then the parts are painted before being assembled to form the concept car which is detailed and put on the truck to the motor show.”

“These guys are really dedicated – we worked about 12 hours a day, six days a week and towards the end of the 12 week program we worked Sundays as well to get Coupé 4 done.”

Between concept cars the studio crew are busy creating full scale models of potential new HSV features – interior parts to exterior ones such as spoilers or wheels – so the HSV Product Group can accurately visualize the changes. For this tight knit team a diet of advanced models and concept vehicles is ideal. “It’s a great job, there’s no doubt about that!”

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