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Right-hook Chev Camaro arrives Down Under

Right on: Queensland's Performax uses plastic injection-moulding to recreate the interior of its right-hand-drive version of the Chevrolet Camaro.

Chevrolet Camaro SS now on sale through specialist converter Performax at $139k

19 Nov 2009

AUSTRALIAN car conversion specialist Performax International has launched what it claims is the world’s first right-hand-drive Chevrolet Camaro, building the acclaimed Holden-engineered American two-door coupe to order as General Motors continues to stick with left-hook production.

The prospects of the American muscle car being sold through official GM Holden channels all but disappeared earlier this year when GM postponed right-hand-drive Camaro development as the economic downturn intensified.

The Australian manufacturer’s Premium Brands division also now looks set to disband before too long with the abandonment of Cadillac here and the imminent sale of Saab and Hummer to outside interests.

That has left Performax with the right-hook Camaro market to itself, for now, and the respected Queensland-based importer and converter has launched the stunning V8-powered rear-drive SS flagship from $139,000 driveaway.

Other versions, including a 3.6-litre V6 priced from $129,000, are available to order, although the 6.2-litre LS3 V8 – producing 318kW of power at 5900rpm, and 570Nm of torque from 4600rpm – is the main drawcard.

Although this is a familiar drivetrain to Australian performance enthusiasts, appearing in much cheaper sports sedans from Holden Special Vehicles, the lure of the bow-tie badge, the exclusive nature of the car and, of course, its handsome looks and classic proportions should ensure strong niche demand for the Camaro.

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“Buyer interest in the 2010 Camaro has been unprecedented,” said Performax International general manager Nicholas Vandenberg. “We already have half a dozen orders and expect more now it is finally released.

“For something that will be an absolute standout on Australian roads – and drive as good as it looks – it’s great value for money.”

Mr Vandenberg said the right-hook Camaro was the best right-hand drive car Performax had ever produced in both engineering and appearance terms.

The company uses computer-aided design and plastic injection-moulding technology to recreate the fascia, door panels, centre console, ventilation ducts, wiper cowl and other parts of the vehicle.

“The Camaro SS drives just like it does it does from the factory, meaning it has the same outstanding handling, tactile steering and powerful V8 performance noted by American reviewers,” Mr Vandenberg said.

“The driving position, including the relationship between steering wheel, pedals and seat, is perfect.”

All Performax versions will have Australian Design Rule compliance and will be prepared for immediate registration in all states and territories. Final ADR approval is expected in the coming weeks, at which time orders can be processed in volume.

The in-house conversion to right-hand drive builds on Holden’s design, development and testing of the fifth-generation Camaro, which is based on the Commodore’s Zeta platform and assembled at GM’s plant in Oshawa, Canada.

The Camaro SS chassis includes a multi-link suspension front and rear, the former using a double ball joint design and the latter a unique 4.5-link system. The steering is variable-ratio rack-and-pinion with 2.5 turns lock-to-lock.

The braking highlights are four-piston fixed Brembo aluminium callipers at each end, clamping on to 355mm diameter ventilated rotors at the front and 365mm ventilated discs at the rear.

The SS is fitted standard with 20-inch alloy wheels, wrapped in Z-rated 245/45-section rubber at the front and 275/40 at the rear. The front and rear track at either end measures 1618mm, and the front/rear weight balance is 52:48.

ABS brakes with hydraulic brake assist is part of the package, along with StabiliTrack ESC, traction control, tyre pressure monitors, rear park assist and front, side and curtain airbags.

No official acceleration figures are available, but independent testing shows the 1746kg Camaro SS – mated to a Tremec TR 6060 six-speed manual gearbox – can reach 100km/h from rest in 4.7 seconds, 160km/h in 10.5 seconds and the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds. Launch control is fitted standard in the manual SS.

Inside, the four-seater cabin is decked out with heated leather seats, six-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat, a leather-clad steering wheel and shift knob, climate-control air-conditioning, a nine-speaker 245-Watt Boston Acoustic stereo, cruise control and Bluetooth mobile phone pre-wiring.

With a muscular long-bonnet/short-rump/fat-fender design that elicits memories of the first-generation (1967-69) Camaro, the latest iteration rests on a 2852mm wheelbase and measures 4836mm in overall length, 1918mm in width and 1376mm in height. The ‘fast’ windscreen, with a 67-degree rake, contributes to a 0.35Cd drag coefficient.

The smaller engine option is also a familiar design, a direct-injection unit with a 3.6-litre displacement and maximum outputs of 227kW at 6400rpm and 370Nm at 5300rpm.

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