Stud Ram starts on right track

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDITOR joshua.dowl­ing@news.com.au

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.

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