Camaro? Turn right at Gympie
Right-hand-drive conversions will be done privately, writesPAULGOVER
THE Chevrolet Camaro has missed the boat for Holden showrooms but will soon be sailing from the US to Australia. The VE Commodore-based retro coupe is coming as a private import and cars will be available later this year.
They won’t be cheap, but the man who plans to land the first Camaro says he can deliver a right-hand-drive car to match the original Chevrolet quality.
The work is done by Performax International, which has been operating for more than 20 years and specialises in importing and converting a wide range of popular American vehicles. Its biggest seller is the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, but the Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Mustang are both popular.
The first Camaro — a top-line SS V8 — is already on the docks in California and Nick Vandenberg of Performax cannot wait to get it to Australia and start the conversion and compliance work.
‘‘The Camaro is an exciting car,’’ he says. ‘‘People know a lot about it. It’s a buzz car and they are talking about it.
‘‘Already anticipation has been aroused by GM Holden doing the car. Since it decided to not do right-hand-drive we can at least supply a few cars a year for Australia.
Performax, based at Gympie in Queensland, has its conversion team on standby. Vandenberg says the work will be done with the latest equipment.
‘‘We have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in this business,’’ he says.
‘‘We can do a 3D scan of a dashboard, then get it digitally on to a CAD drawing and reverse-engineer it into a 3D mould for our plastic-injection moulding machine.
‘‘We have a team of three guys to handle compliancing. One of those is the CAD man who does all the computer work.
‘‘It’s almost the quality of the original equipment. And we are the only people in Australia with this equipment. It will be a seamless right-hand-drive conversion with full ADR compliance and a factory warranty.’’
Vandenberg is expecting the Camaro to generate a lot of interest, but the biggest question — the price — has no answer yet.
‘‘What determines the cost is the cost of the conversion,’’ he says. ‘‘Until we get the car here we can only give an approximation.
‘‘For a top-line SS as a manual or auto it’s going to be between $120,000 and $150,000. We sold a convertible Corvette the other day for about $200,000, so it will definitely be cheaper than a Corvette.’’
He says the Silverado is a solid base, but muscle cars generate the real following.
‘‘We’ve done quite a lot of Corvette conversions, and Ford Mustangs. We got compliance for that only last year and we were flooded by customers,’’ he says.
The timing for the Camaro is still not set but the plan is locked and loaded.
‘‘The car is on the docks. It will take four or five weeks to arrive, so it will be ready towards the end of the year,’’ Vandenberg says.