Stud Ram starts on right track
AMERICAN Ram pick-ups will be on Australian roads in righthand-drive soon — with factory-approved conversions by the company that builds Holden Special Vehicles.
Australia’s largest independent distributor, Ateco, has joined forces with Australia’s largest independent automotive engineering firm, the Walkinshaw Group, best known for HSV cars.
The first shipment of Ram Trucks has arrived and conversion work has started not far from where HSV puts the finishing touches on highperformance Holden Commodores.
American Special Vehicles, as the joint venture is known, is getting some of the right-hand-drive parts made by original equipment manufacturers.
For example, the Pitman heavy-duty steering setup is made by the same company that makes the left-hand-drive versions for the US.
Steering assemblies are the Achilles’ heel of converted vehicles.
Other converters fabricate fibreglass dashboards but the ASV Rams have a high-quality item made by the company that supplies the Toyota Camry’s dash.
The vehicles are due in showrooms late this year at what is likely to be in excess of $120,000.
Dealers have yet to be announced but intending buyers can register their interest online.
Ram is expected to launch with the top-end 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty models, primarily designed for towing horse floats, large caravans and big boats.
The Ram pick-ups will be imported direct from the factory with some Australian components already fitted, before the conversion work is completed in Melbourne.
“Our engineers and manufacturing teams have relished the challenge of designing hundreds of (original equipment) quality parts, and implementing a completely unique build process,” says Ryan Walkinshaw, son of company founder, the late Tom Walkinshaw.
“The objective was very clear — produce a right-hand drive Ram pick-up that meets the engineering standards, quality, and refinement of the left-hand drive product.”
ASV says it has invested “millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours” in the project.
Ateco boss Neville Crichton is back in business with the Walkinshaw family — he had raced touring cars with Tom, who he describes as “legendary for his determination, success and attention to detail”.
The ASV Ram pick-ups will be produced with full volume import approval, meaning full compliance with Australian Design Rules.
ASV says it will be “the sole importer of Ram models covered by that approval” and the vehicles will have a threeyear/100,000km warranty.