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Camaro for Oz

Back door: The Chev Camaro is set to come to Australia, courtesy of Queensland importer Performax.

Chevrolet’s new Camaro will be available in Australia after all – via Performax

10 Jun 2009

CASHED-UP Camaro connoisseurs rejoice: Chevrolet’s born-again, Port Melbourne-engineered pony car will be available in right-hand-drive form in Australia after all.

No, General Motors has not revived plans to series-produce a right-hook version of its all-new Camaro coupe, which is based on the Commodore’s large rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform.

Despite already having been developed by Holden and partially tooled for production, the RHD Camaro project was officially cancelled in February due to GM’s financial woes amid a global car industry slump and tighter new corporate average fuel consumption (CAFE) regulations in the US.

Plans to export thousands of RHD Camaro coupes and convertibles to the UK, Japan, South Africa and Australia in 2011 were scotched just a month before the fifth-generation Chevrolet muscle car went into LHD production at Oshawa, Canada, in March 16, gutting overseas fans of the car that Motor Trend described as the best Chevrolet in 30 years.

Now, however, Queensland vehicle importer and converter Performax International has announced it will soon take delivery of the first of many Camaros it plans to sell in RHD guise with full Australian Design Rule compliance.

Sunshine Coast-based Performax, which describes itself as Australia’s leading importer and converter of US-built cars and sports trucks, says it expects to complete conversion and compliance work on what could become the world’s first RHD Camaro coupe by the end of this year, when it hopes to become the first to offer the Camaro for sale in Australia.

137 center imageThe first example – a flagship SS variant complete with 317kW LS3 6.2-litre Chev V8 and a six-speed manual transmission – is expected to arrive here in the next few weeks, when Performax says it will immediately start work to prepare it as a prototype for imports of further brand-new Camaros.

Performax general manager Nicholas Vandenberg said that since its launch in the US, the Camaro had received nothing but great reviews for its performance, handling and design.

“It’s a fabulous car and we were lucky to get one so soon,” he said.

Mr Vandenberg said all Performax Camaros would come ready for registration with full ADR compliance, a factory warranty and a “competitive” pricetag.

GoAuto understands Performax will not be in a position to finalise RHD Camaro pricing until the conversion process is complete, but comparable conversion projects typically cost between $30,000 and $35,000 – on top of the SS model’s circa-$40,000 sticker price in the US, plus shipping, import duty and compliance costs.

So expect to pay well in excess of $100,000 for the top-shelf Camaro in Australia, making it far more expensive than the priciest of HSV’s mechanically similar sedans. The Camaro SS drivetrain is also found in Vauxhall’s HSV GTS-based VXR8 and the now-discontinued, Holden-built Pontiac G8 GXP.

With a healthier dose of exclusivity and a sleeker two-door bodyshell that wears a Chevrolet bow-tie badge, however, GM’s answer to the equally iconic Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger is likely to attract more demand in Australia than Performax can satisfy.

“We expect extremely strong demand for the Camaro in Australia,” said Mr Vandenberg, who said other Camaro variants would also become available in RHD here.

Just 100 (LHD) Camaros will be sold in the UK, comprising 50 coupes and 50 convertibles, each powered by HSV’s Corvette-sourced alloy 500hp V8 - to keep numbers below the threshold for type-approval regulations. The Camaro SS coupe will be priced about £35,000 ($A71,400) in the UK in 2011.

That’s much more expensive than in the US, where the entry-level 2010 Camaro LS coupe, powered by a 227kW 3.6-litre V6, is now available from $US23,040 ($A28,900) plus taxes, registration and dealer fees.

The SS starts from $US31,040 ($A38,900), with the (300kW) six-speed auto versions costing a further $US2000 in the US, where GM said it received more than 10,000 advance orders for the hard-top Camaro before it entered production.

Chevrolet will release a top-shelf Z-28 variant of the 2010 Camaro coupe later this year in the US, powered by a supercharged V8 from the Cadillac CTS-V that delivers more than 400kW, as a direct rival for the Challenger SRT8.

Mr Vandenberg said he expected efficient conversion and compliance turn-around times because of Performax’s experience with government requirements and its industry-leading computer-aided design and engineering facilities.

“After 20 years’ experience and thousands of conversions, we are able to do this work faster than anyone else and to the highest engineering standards,” he said.

“Also, we have recently introduced high-tech equipment that enables us to produce injection-moulded plastic components such as dashboards, air-conditioning ducting, consoles, switch panels and other interior components to factory-original standards of appearance and precision.”

Performax says it will keep potential buyers and enthusiasts informed of the conversion progress with regular updates and photographs on its dedicated Camaro website, www.performaxint.com.au.

Read more:

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