Mus­tang Mo­tor­sport

Australian Muscle Car - - Tarmac Muscle -

It’s-per­haps not sur­pris­ing that Craig Dean’s busi­ness is in Amer­i­can mus­cle cars. A love of Detroit Iron is some­thing that runs deep in the Dean fam­ily.

While other kids in the 1970s were strapped into the rear seat of the fam­ily Kingswood, Fal­con or Valiant (or even a Ja­panese car), young Craig got to ride in the back of an ex­otic, head-turn­ing, big V8 Amer­i­can coupe.

“My father al­ways drove Amer­i­can cars,” Craig says, “im­port­ing them to Aus­tralia and then hav­ing them con­verted to right-hand drive.”

When Craig left school he joined the Royal Aus­tralian Air Force as an ap­pren­tice me­chanic.

“In the RAAF I learned to work on any­thing known to man that goes on road or sup­ports an air­craft,” he says. “They trained us pretty well. If you’re switched on, you can learn a lot in that en­vi­ron­ment.”

It was the per­fect kind of all-round tech­ni­cal train­ing for the type of busi­ness that Craig would later form.

“When I was still in the mil­i­tary I thought about do­ing one (con­vert­ing an Amer­i­can car to right-hand drive) my­self. So my dad bought me a dam­aged ’82 model Z28 Ca­maro. I con­verted that; I did all the dash­board work right there in the liv­ing room…

“Then it be­came a hobby for me, con­vert­ing Amer­i­can cars – Ca­maros, at the time – to right­hand drive.” Be­fore long the hobby evolved into a busi­ness. “No one in Aus­tralia at the time was do­ing mir­ror-image con­ver­sions. Mir­ror-image means not just putting the blinker stalks on the right, but you move the brake booster over; you move ev­ery­thing, 100 per cent.

“That’s how I did my con­ver­sions. It in­volved a lot more work, but the fin­ished prod­uct was much bet­ter do­ing them that way. Over time I built my busi­ness on qual­ity, mak­ing sure ev­ery car we do is done prop­erly.”

Cross­over Car Con­ver­sions cel­e­brated its 26th year just last month. These days the spe­cialty con­ver­sions are Dodge Vipers and Chal­lengers, Ca­maros and Ford F150s.

And Ford Mus­tangs – although the Pony­car side of the busi­ness (con­ducted un­der the sep­a­rate Mus­tang Mo­tor­sport ban­ner) has evolved now that Ford is bring­ing the cur­rent model Mus­tang into Aus­tralia in right-hand-drive.

“Mus­tang Mo­tor­sport has been trad­ing since ’05 when the new model retro Mus­tang came out,” Craig ex­plains. “That’s the first time the Mus­tang brand in Aus­tralia has ever re­ally ex­celled or been able to form a vi­able busi­ness model in it­self with the con­ver­sions.

“With the in­ter­est in that model, we pushed it re­ally hard and Mus­tang Mo­tor­sport started to buy in mar­ket re­tail Mus­tangs from the States, which we would then con­vert. At that point I was im­port­ing a lot of Shelby Su­per Snakes, and since then we’ve be­come an au­tho­rised Shelby mod shop. That means we can add any com­po­nent that Shelby makes, and we can do a Shelby GT500 that is of­fi­cially recog­nised on the Shelby reg­istry.”

Any­one in the mar­ket for a Shelby GT or Su­per Snake in this part of the world has two op­tions: buy a left-hand drive ver­sion from the US or go and see the team at Mus­tang Mo­tor­sport about hav­ing a fully li­censed, right-hand-drive Shelby built to or­der in Mel­bourne.

“We man­u­fac­ture Su­per Snakes in Aus­tralia on the GT plat­form. Shelby al­ways picks the high­est pow­ered Mus­tang in the range as the base for their car, and now that’s the five-litre Coy­ote. We can make that into a Shelby GT or a Su­per Snake. We also of­fer five dif­fer­ent Roush pack­ages: su­per­charged or non-su­per­charged, de­pend­ing on bud­get and/or how much per­for­mance you want.”

The con­ver­sion side of the busi­ness re­mains strong. Among the col­lec­tion of Shel­bys in the show­room is a Dodge Chal­lenger Hell­cat and even a Ford GT. Cross­over Car Con­ver­sions is the only com­pany in the world to have con­verted the Ford GT to right-hand drive.

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