HOW CHRYSLER SPARKED GRM’S VOLVO SUPERCARS DEAL

Garry Rogers and Scott McLaughlin could have been campaigning Chryslers in 2014. Pic: an1images.com and Chrysler Media

GARRY Rogers Motorsport’s groundbreaking deal to bring Volvo into V8 Supercars for 2014 was triggered by rival interest from Chrysler, Rogers has revealed.

The Melbourne-based squad had set its sights on introducing a new manufacturer for the implementation of the diversity-driven Car of the Future rule set in 2013.

Reports first emerged in early 2012 that Rogers was in talks with Chrysler to bring its 300C model to Supercars, but a deal did not proceed and GRM started the first COTF season with VF Commodores.

Chrysler did though strike a two-year agreement to be the category’s Safety Car supplier from 2013 and, by May of that year, the possibility of a GRM deal was again on the table.

Just weeks later though it emerged that the team had snared a contract with Swedish manufacturer Volvo and GRM ended up running the now iconic S60 Supercar from 2014-16.

Chrysler took over the Safety Car program in 2013. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

Asked on this week’s V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco how the Volvo deal came about, Rogers explained: “That really started initially with the Chrysler.

“We’d spoken to Chrysler about a Supercar program because we were trying to get a factory involvement of some kind.

“We’d approached them, and a girl that used to be in the PR department at Nissan, Lenore Fletcher, who I knew through the dealership days, was working for Chrysler.

“We went and had a meeting with them and just discussed whether we could build a Chrysler Supercar for the program, we said we could do that.

“In the meantime, we’d had some discussion with Volvo, just briefly, I think Cocho (V8 Supercars boss Tony Cochrane) might have mentioned it to the Volvo dealer on the Gold Coast…

“It ended up ‘could we do it?’ and the answer was ‘yes we could’. ‘Would we like to do it?’. ‘Yes, we would’.

“[Volvo] were umm-ing and ahh-ing, not wanting to know about it, then all of a sudden they got a sniff of the fact we were maybe going to do this Chrysler deal.

“All of a sudden, it was just amazing, next thing we’d done the deal!”

McLaughlin driving to victory at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2014. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

Rogers affirmed the Chrysler deal had been “very, very close”, but notes that the sleek Volvo S60 was being better suited to racing than the bulky 300C would have been.

The combination of the S60’s aerodynamic package and its Yamaha-based V8 engine developed for Supercars competition by Polestar gave Volvo instant success.

Scott McLaughlin steered the S60 to six Supercars Championship race wins between 2014 and ’16, before the program was shut down and GRM reverted to Commodores.

“It was just the right-shaped car for the program, and I’ve got to say to Matthias (Evensson, head of engine development at Polestar), he did an amazing job with that engine,” added Rogers.

Listen to the full V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco in the player below.