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Phil Zmood - Holden Chief Designer | SHANNONS DESIGN TO DRIVEWAY | Ep 4

By Shannons - Published on 06 November 2022

Phil Zmood helped shape and style over 70% of all Holden cars. That’s a Fact! 
Not only did Phil get his hands on the design and styling of so many Holdens from the HK through to the VE - he was also the first ever Australian to be appointed as the Holden Design Director and later, he ultimately established GM’s Design Centre in China.
Winning an influential car design competition in London landed Phil Zmood a start in the Holden design studio and before long he was designing wheel caps, front grilles and badges for the HK Monaro. Then when Holden was looking for a true sports coupe to rival the likes of the American Corvette or the Datsun 240Z, Holden selected Phil’s concept designs of the Holden GTR-X coupe which became Holden’s planned solution to take on the sports coupes. 

Perhaps Phil is credited most for his work on the HQ series – often agreed as the most elegant car ever designed in this country. The car that evolved into Kingswood, Premier and Monaro – plus the sports variants of GTS and commercial vehicles and luxury models which are much loved and collected by enthusiasts today. 
Phil also championed a unique rotary powered extension of the Torana, called The Green Lizard, which almost made it into production before the US had last minute thoughts about the rotary plan.  
When the Ford Falcon dominated sales for an all-Australian large family car with the XD, XE and XF models, it forced Holden into a heavy local debt and the writing was on the wall for Holden to survive in Australia. GM’s US management looked to Zmood to bring Holden into the future with a bold new design to re-imagine how Australians could look to the large Australian family car. It was the VN Holden Commodore, delivered with a refined and sophisticated surfacing over large panels and helped by a mighty V8, headed Holden back into winner’s corner. 
Then came the VT Holden Commodore base with luxury and sports variants to a new era of trade and sports utilities. The design momentum extended to AWD wagons such as the Holden Adventra wagon, as well as cross-over dual cabs and Holden’s luxury long wheelbase. There was even the reborn Monaro coupe and an aggressive export program to the US and Middle East. 
Phil Zmood oversaw arguably Holden’s most prolific period in the history of Holden design.

“Shannons are proud to commission this landmark series to celebrate the rich design heritage of the cars we all know and love. While Shannons plays a key role as Australia’s leading insurer for motoring enthusiasts, we also believe it is very important to preserve our automotive history for future generations” said Mark Behr, Executive Manager, Marketing for Shannons.