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Chevrolet Camaro to be sold in Holden showrooms

American pride: The Camaro will be converted to right-hand-drive in a facility in Melbourne.

Bowtie badge returns for first time since 1968 with converted Chevrolet Camaro


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8 Dec 2017

HOLDEN and Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) have signed a deal to bring the American-built Camaro sportscar to Australia, and it will be badged as a Chevrolet.

The left-had-drive-only coupe will be imported and converted in a brand new HSV facility in Melbourne, and it will be sold through existing HSV dealers under Chevrolet signage.

A single variant, known as the 2SS, is slated for arrival in July next year and will be powered by General Motors’ direct-injection LT1 6.2-litre V8 engine.

However, HSV managing director Tim Jackson has told journalists that the company will not modify the Camaro for performance gains.

“Not surprisingly, because of our heritage, people have been badgering us (about modifying the Camaro),” he told journalists at the launch of the HSV Colorado SportsCat in Queensland.

“It’s nice because I think what it does is it keeps us grounded a little bit in what we’ve traditionally been. But the job here isn’t to enhance Camaro. Camaro’s already a great product. The job is to get the steering wheel from the left hand side to the right-hand side in a way that you don’t notice.”

Holden executive director of marketing Mark Harland, accompanying Mr Jackson at the launch, said there would be no doubt about the origins of the car.

“We’re going to market it clearly as Chevrolet,” he said. “They (including the Silverado) will be marketed as Chevy products. We’re not putting a Holden badge on them – no one would believe it.”

Chevy branding will also appear in Holden dealerships in arrangements that are still be thrashed out.

Mr Harland denied that the rebadging was the first steps in a potential restructuring of the Holden brand.

“Holden is here to stay,” he said. “Holden has a place and there is no plans to change that. Given the ‘success’, if you will, of the factory closure and the surprising amount of positive sentiment, it’s still got a lot to give.”

Mr Jackson agreed. “This marks a new era for HSV and Holden and I hope our customers are as excited as we are,” he said. “HSV is moving beyond simply ‘hotting up’ existing models, and customers will see two product streams from HSV over the next few years.”

Added Mr Harland: “This is a partnership. They’re going into the next chapter, much like Holden. We needed a partner to give us right-hand-drive capability.”

The previous fifth-generation Camaro was built on top of the Holden-developed Zeta platform, which would have allowed for an easy transition to right-hand drive.

However, GM moved the current sixth-generation car – which debuted in 2015 – to the left-hand-drive-only Alpha platform, which also underpins the Cadillac CTS.

The Camaro will be converted on one of four production lines at HSV’s new production facility in Melbourne, alongside a line converting the Chevrolet Silverado for Holden, another that is already converting the Dodge Ram pick-up (in the joint venture between HSV parent Walkinshaw Automotive Group and Ateco Automotive) and the final line working on HSV’s new Colorado SportsCat ute.

Initially, only the 2SS variant will be imported. The 6.2-litre V8 produces 340kW and 615Nm in US specification, and is backed by an eight-speed traditional automatic transmission.

A six-speed manual will be made available as an option “from day one”, according to Mr Jackson.

It will be equipped with HID headlights, 20-inch staggered rims, Brembo four-piston front brake callipers, powered and heated/ventilated leather-trimmed front sports seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, a nine-speaker Bose stereo, a head-up display and drive mode selector as standard.

Mr Jackson described the chances of the range-topping ZL1 – which is equipped with a supercharged LT4 engine making 480kW – making it to Australia as slim.

“Don’t hold your breath,” he told journalists, explaining that emissions regulations are not in the ZL1’s favour.

The Camaro’s most logical competitor in the local market is the successful Ford Mustang, which has sold more than 15,000 units since it went on sale in December 2015, defying long-held conventions around the ‘boom then bust’ sales patterns of two-seat coupes.

Mr Jackson suggested that HSV’s business case that requires the sale of 1000 Camaros a year was “conservative”.

“It’s foolish to suggest there’s not that natural rivalry there, but if you’re in the market for a two-door sportscar, there’s a market between $180,000 and (the $57,900) Mustang. There’s plenty of place to play in that space.

“We’re not saying we’re going out to beat Mustang.”

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