Andy Ryan's Mongrel Mobiles – The way your car should have been designed!

The HQ Belair Belmont 202 Coupe!

The 1955 HQ Belair Chevrolet GTS was a Top Secret prototype built in partnership with Chevrolet in the USA and Holden in Australia, long before today’s association between Pontiac and Holden with the Monaro being rebadged in the States as a Pontiac GTO Pickup.

In 1955, Chevrolet and Holden wondered if they could build a car together, thus catering to both the American and Australian markets. This way they could utilise the same chassis platform, running gear and engines. Even the radios could be used for both vehicles with the Australian car needing a very large aerial in order to pick up American radio stations, which were the only ones available at the time.

A centralised driving position would be compulsory to eliminate messy and outdated safety laws that required the steering wheels and gloveboxes to be placed on opposite sides of the dashboard in the USA and Australia. Australians preferred their gloveboxes in front of the passenger instead of the driver. The McClaren F1 Sports Car later copied this design.

Chevrolet had been building larger versions of Holden designed cars for many years. For example the 1957 Chevrolet Belair was almost an exact copy of the 1962 EK Holden Special.

Hubert Quinn was a young car designer working at Holden’s design studio at Fisherman’s Bend in Melbourne,Victoria. He was commissioned to work on a futuristic prototype for the 1970’s which was still 15 years away. He needed plenty of time as full scale clay models could often take up to four years to dry and even longer before they could actually be driven. Hubert Quinn, or HQ as he was better known, was approached by his GM counterpart from the US, who was on a work exchange programme, to share some of his ideas with the design department in Detroit as part of a feasibility study into building the Australian and US joint venture vehicle.

However back in the 1950’s there weren’t the luxuries we have today such as the internet, sandwich makers or the telephone. All communication had to be carried out through the post or by using Morse Code which didn’t work very well at night time. This slight communication problem could explain why the doors were eventually welded up to meet safety regulations in both countries.


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