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By Daniel DeGasperi, 07 Sep 2009 Features


Australia's young car designer hopefuls have penned their HSV for the future, but the results are in and there can be only one Wheels Designer of the Year. Drum roll...

The brief was to create a HSV for 2020, an innovative, economical muscle car that also takes into consideration future environmental and social challenges.

And of the 18 design-student hopefuls that waxed their crayons and sketched away, it was Swedish-born, Melbourne-raised Johannes Collopy that arrived victorious, with his HSV GT.E judged the finest example of this year's breed.

Collopy, aged 20 and currently completing a Bachelor of Industrial Design at Melbourne's Monash University, was awarded the gong at the Australian International Motor Show media day by Wheels editor Ged Bulmer and HSV CEO Phil Harding, both of whom were part of a panel of eight judges.

The GT.E's striking three-door silhouette and innovative choice of materials, such as an extruded aluminium chassis and carbonfibre-reinforced plastic panels, impressed the judges. So too did the GT.E's powertrain choice - a 475Nm electric motor with a 400km range and predicted 0-100km/h time of 3.9-seconds. This technology is appropriated from an existing design used successfully in the Tesla roadster, so was seen as both relevant and workable.

Collopy's design influences include animal forms, architecture (Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry) and Scandinavian designs. Perhaps controversially, he rates Chris Bangle as his faviroute automotive designer, while the BMW Gina, 1-Series Convertible and M3 Coupe rate, along with the Smart Roadster, Mazda Furai and Kazamai and various Citroen concept cars, as his favourite designs.

Of his YDOTY journey, Collopy says, "when I got the call that I was a finalist I was in disbelief that I, as an admirer of past winners, was in the running for first place. To then get the phone call telling me that I'd won was out of this world."

"When I moved back from Sweden in 2002 I was looking around for a decent magazine to keep me informed. The first mag I picked up was Wheels and since then I haven't put it down," he adds. "I was psyched when Young Designer of the Year was reintroduced a few years back, having sketched cars since who knows when."

"Thank you first and foremost to Wheels magazine for running the competition. Thank you to HSV for providing me with this opportunity to get a glimpse of my dream job (and) finally I'd like to thank Monash University and the lecturers who have put up with me during the time I have spent here, particularly the Transport blokes who've helped me immensely on my way to realising the career I've always wanted."

As our worthy winner, Johannes scores an all-expenses-paid trip to an international motor show of his choice, worth $10K, and will next year partake in a six-month paid internship with HSV's design department in Victoria.

For the moment, Johannes was simply keen to check out the hot new models (and a few of the cars) at this years Sydney show, and has rated his top design hits and misses.