GM has been pondering the mid-size truck problem for a while. Mr. Leach started his design duties on the Denali XT in 2005, immediately following his work on the VE Ute.
To kick-off planning, GM design chief Ed Welburn and key truck executives flew to Australia to participate face-to-face in brainstorming sessions that plotted the XT's size, purpose, and style. They also had to create a business case for the sport truck that made sense.
"The XT was not designed in a vacuum," explains Mr. Leach. "Nowadays, we've got to leverage GM's global resources. We've got to find a production partner somewhere else in the world for this to be financially doable."
The XT slowly and deliberately evolved from computer renderings into scale models, so the right proportions, styling and engineering solutions could be worked out simultaneously.
"In terms of overall packaging, the insides, the suspension geometry, wheelbase, and roof height - it's all doable. Even the 23-inch wheels," says Mr. Leach.
By October of last year, the Holden team was ready to present the XT to GM's car czar, Bob Lutz.
Fellow Australian Paul Clarke, the man responsible for building the wildly retro Holden Efijy coupe concept, took charge of creating the lifesize clay model that would need to knock the socks off Mr. Lutz. It did.
Mr. Clarke also built the running model and tends to it like a proud father doting over his kid. He knows its mechanicals inside and out.
Nobody at GM is saying the GMC Denali XT is going to reach production. It has to make sense financially, but Crewman-style car-trucks have already proven to be more popular than originally expected Down Under. Will American truck buyers adopt the XT as well? If so, we predict we'll be saying goodbye to body-on-frame small pickups, like the GMC Canyon, sooner than we think and hello to this Australian-designed hauler.
XT model maker Paul Clarke (pictured at left) and lead designer Warrack
Leach (right) celebrate their American-style Crewman Ute by throwing