The Gannet 1000 may not be familiar to many Australians, but without its existence, cultural icons such as the Monaro, the Torana, and the Commodore may never have spun rubber on our roads.

This award-winning illustration - with other etchings in tow - saw the aspiring automotive designer, Phillip Zmood, wander into the halls of Holden Australia and never look back. In a career spanning decades, and continents, Zmood became famous for his clean, minimal lines; and for being the first Australian in the driver’s seat of Holden’s design department. He’s also widely credited with the major design elements of some of the country’s most famous muscle cars, such as the GTRX and the models aforementioned.

“I suppose it was one of the things which brought me to their attention,” says Zmood of his watershed cartridge drawing, “but then, I’d already been visiting Holden for years, trying to find out how to become a car designer. The Gannet was done when I was a third year student at RMIT.”

Drafted in 1963, the Gannet 1000 did seem radically different from other Australian car designs at the time, admits Zmood, but not necessarily from the best show cars around. “I’d like to think I was in their league,” he laughs, “with those one off, exotic cars. But I can’t be the judge of that. I just thought it was a clean, modern design that was looking forward.”

Casting his eye into the future has undoubtedly contributed to Zmood’s ongoing success, though it’s evident he didn’t foresee this revival of his early works. “I actually had these old drawings that I was going to throw away,” a modest Zmood explains, “but RMIT asked to keep them for their design archives, and now they’re exhibiting them. I’m very happy to help them in that.

I think the thrust behind the exhibition is really to demonstrate to young people and students that if you’ve really got the desire and motivation to be an industrial designer, well, you might have the opportunity to have a career as good as I’ve had.”

Zmood - Designing Holdens opens tomorrow, Friday 16 July, at the Melbourne Museum and runs until Sunday 8 August.