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.