Mus­cle News

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents - Story: Bruce New­ton

The 10 mil­lionth Mus­tang and the very rst; the Brock cars auc­tion at Bathurst.

The clas­sic Chevro­let Ca­maro ver­sus Ford Mus­tang Aus­tralian tour­ing car bat­tles of the late 1960s and early 1970s could recom­mence as soon as 2020. That’s if Walkin­shaw An­dretti United com­mits to de­vel­op­ing a rac­ing ver­sion of the Ca­maro coupe for the Vir­gin Aus­tralian Su­per­cars Cham­pi­onship.

The plan is un­der con rmed con­sid­er­a­tion by the team and its par­ent, the Walkin­shaw Group, as a way to pro­mote a right-hand drive ver­sion of the V8 Ca­maro 2SS road car which sister com­pany, Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles, has just launched for sale here.

It will take on the Ford Mus­tang road car, which has dom­i­nated the sports car mar­ket in Aus­tralia since its 2016 launch.

If the Ca­maro does make it on to lo­cal tracks it will also line up against the Mus­tang coupe, which is cur­rently be­ing de­vel­oped by Ford Per­for­mance, DJR Team Penske and Tick­ford Rac­ing to take over from the de­funct Fal­con FG/X as Ford’s Su­per­cars weapon in 2019.

It will also re­vive mem­o­ries of Bob Jane and Norm Beechey rac­ing Ca­maros in the late 1960s and early 1970s against the likes of Pete Geoghe­gan and Al­lan Mof­fat.

Or for younger gen­er­a­tions, Kevin Bartlett’s hero­ics in the Chan­nel 9 Ca­maro in the early 1980s, or even For­mula One world cham­pion Alan Jones brief ten­ure with Ron Dick­son’s team in 1982.

But if the new-gen­er­a­tion Ca­maro is to make it onto the race­track there are a se­ries of tech­ni­cal, nan­cial and po­lit­i­cal hur­dles it has to over­come.

The most ba­sic is mak­ing the Ca­maro coupe’s dis­tinc­tive notch­back bodyshape t on the stan­dard Su­per­cars Gen2 chro­moly tube space­frame chas­sis, which is the ba­sis of all cars on the grid no mat­ter what their road car ori­gins.

WAU’s en­gi­neer­ing team led by English­man Carl Faux has been work­ing on a so­lu­tion, but Walkin­shaw Group boss Tim Jack­son con rmed Su­per­cars might have to al­low modi cations to the chas­sis to get the Ca­maro on-track.

“The most ob­vi­ous [prob­lem] area that you can see with­out having done a lot of work is the rear of the cabin,” Jack­son said. “That is go­ing to im­pact where the rollcage is. The thing that stares you in the face is that par­tic­u­lar is­sue.

“We can see where some of the im­pacts are in terms of the cur­rent rules and the ob­vi­ous area is the rear of the cabin as that slopes away in the coupe. There is a big bar (on Su­per­cars’ con­trol chas­sis) in the way.”

A Su­per­cars dis­pen­sa­tion to mod­ify the cage speci cally for the Ca­maro would po­ten­tially trig­ger up­roar among ri­vals who have worked with the stan­dard design since its in­tro­duc­tion in 2013. Two gen­er­a­tions of Holden Com­modore, the Fal­con, the Nis­san Al­tima, Volvo S60 and Mercedes-Benz E63 have all been stretched or short­ened to t on the chas­sis and its 2822mm wheel­base with­out dis­pen­sa­tions.

The fear is a modi cation for Ca­maro would lead to teams ap­ply­ing for fur­ther ho­molo­ga­tion vari­a­tions for in­di­vid­ual mod­els.

“You are go­ing to start a global arms race,” one team boss warned.

But Jack­son said it was im­per­a­tive the Ca­maro road car’s dis­tinc­tive shape was re­tained.

“We don’t par­tic­u­larly want to cre­ate a bas­tard child of a ve­hi­cle,” he said. “It needs to look like a Ca­maro, it can’t look like some ma­nip­u­lated, modi ed vari­ant.”

The next chal­lenge beyond the body it­self would be cre­at­ing a com­pet­i­tive aero­dy­namic pack­age, for which WAU might need in­put from GM Rac­ing in the USA and its size­able com­put­ing power.

Beyond that, cre­at­ing a Ca­maro racer would be rea­son­ably straight for­ward, con­sid­er­ing Su­per­cars share many con­trol com­po­nents, or choose from a bas­ket of items such as shock ab­sorbers. The Ca­maro would be pow­ered by the same 5.0-litre Chev pushrod V8 en­gine used by all Holden Su­per­cars.

Beyond the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges is the fun­da­men­tal is­sue of money. De­vel­op­ing the body­work and the aero­dy­nam­ics of a Ca­maro Su­per­car would cost around $1.5 mil­lion.

To ab­sorb that cost would mean other pri­va­teer teams opt­ing for the Ca­maro racer, cre­at­ing a rev­enue stream back to the Walkin­shaw Group.

“I’d imag­ine if you were the only team running it [Ca­maro], it wouldn’t make nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity. You would need other teams will­ing to run it,” Jack­son said.

Which then leads to the po­lit­i­cal is­sue, be­cause WAU and the ma­jor­ity of other teams on the Su­per­cars grid cur­rently race Holden Com­modore ZBs.

Even though Holden has ex­pressed no is­sues with the con­cept of a Ca­maro Su­per­car, it may not look kindly on teams swap­ping to it from Com­modores.

That’s some­thing Walkin­shaw Group has to be es­pe­cially con­scious of be­cause of the longterm busi­ness re­la­tion­ship it has with Holden re­volv­ing around HSV.

There’s also the ques­tion­able logic of having two Gen­eral Mo­tors prod­ucts rac­ing each other on the same grid.

“As Holden and HSV we have spent a lot of time work­ing to­gether, so it might seem a bit weird ac­tu­ally go­ing and com­pet­ing against each other on the track,” Jack­son said.

“The spec­ta­tor may not worry about it too much but the in­dus­try may nd it in­ter­est­ing.”

Main im­age: The Ca­maro is now Chevro­let’s front-line con­tender in NASCAR. Will we see a Su­per­cars ver­sion on Aus­tralian tracks in 2020?

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