Author Topic: Australian Camaros  (Read 576 times)

group/7

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Australian Camaros
« on: February 09, 2019, 01:27:49 AM »
I know there is a thread in the Trans-Am section on cars raced in Australia. Where Camaros  in Australia converted by the manufacturer, or individually by private persons ?

I found this Australian magazine "sports Car World" April '67 on E-bay, I didn't buy it. Here is a scan of the cover, and a photo of the engine, that's all that was shown in the listing. It looks like it has '68 disc brake wheel covers. I suppose by that date the '68s were out, so it's possible for those caps to be on the car. Also looks to be an AC car ? Maybe someone has this magazine, there would be more photos.

Perhaps someone has more photos of cars converted to right hand drive.

Mike

MO

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Re: Australian Camaros
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2019, 04:02:27 AM »
Hard to say what that wheel cover is, but it seems way too early to be the 68 rally wheel center cap.

ZLP955

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Re: Australian Camaros
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2019, 10:10:50 PM »
That magazine looks very familiar; I'll have to hunt around and see if I have a copy somewhere.
To answer your original question, Camaros (along with other LHD models) that were imported to Australia as new cars back then had to be converted to RHD by law, at least for on-road use. These conversions were usually done by one of a handful of specialist companies that took on the job of mirroring the factory layouts. I have a bud who owns an early '69 Camaro that was imported and converted locally, pictures below - even to me, it looks very strange to see the wheel on the right and the brake booster and heater box reversed in the engine bay.... apart from the conversion and the previous owner's decision to add the D96 fender stripes, the car is otherwise very original still and is driven very regularly.

In subsequent years, many used Camaros have been imported and some of those converted to RHD by owners. Quality of these conversions varies greatly. Nowadays opinions are split as to the merits of converting or remaining LHD; some prefer the everyday advantage of RHD (think of drive-throughs, inserting boom gate tickets at secure parking lots, visibility for passing etc) but many, like mine, remain LHD as the General intended.
Tim in Australia.
1969 04A Van Nuys Z/28. Cortez Silver, Dark Blue interior, VE3 bumper, Z21, Z23, D55/U17, D80, flat hood.
Sold at Clippinger Chevrolet in Covina, CA. Ex-Racer at Lions Dragstrip in Long Beach.

Tinkerr

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Re: Australian Camaros
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2019, 01:35:49 AM »
Any idea how they accomplished the conversion? Replace entire dash and firewall assemblies, weld in patch panel, how about the steering box on the subframe?

ZLP955

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Re: Australian Camaros
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2019, 10:25:34 AM »
I haven't checked out that particular car's conversion in detail, but most of the 'new car' conversions back then were done by retaining as much of the original dash and firewall as possible. The instrument panel (carrier) was just moved across as an entire unit, the support structure was cut and repositioned, and soft dash pads were typically cut in multiple locations and pieced back together with heat-welded joints; sounds crude, but they were quite professionally done. Firewall modifications were fabricated locally, often the heater box was just flipped upside down on the other side. Steering mechanisms were often sourced from locally-made domestic models (like GM's Holden division) and subframe/chassis adapted to suit.
Although most of these conversions were done in very low volume (and therefore very expensive), there was quite a steady and experienced market here in that era for doing these specialist modifications on numerous brands and models.

Some later private imports were very shoddily converted, I have looked at some cars that I just would not drive; boosters and master cylinders still on the left side of the firewall, with pedals on the right connected by cables or metal rods; chain-driven steering gear; hacked-up wiring harnesses that are a fire risk.....
Unless it's a professional, older and certified conversion, I would stay LHD.
Tim in Australia.
1969 04A Van Nuys Z/28. Cortez Silver, Dark Blue interior, VE3 bumper, Z21, Z23, D55/U17, D80, flat hood.
Sold at Clippinger Chevrolet in Covina, CA. Ex-Racer at Lions Dragstrip in Long Beach.

SMKZ28

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Re: Australian Camaros
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2019, 03:04:42 AM »
Mike,

I briefly touched on this subject in my thread on the 1967 Camaro seen at Auto Shows in 1966/1967.  The following is what I wrote:

The 33rd Melbourne International Motor Show took place Thursday, March 9th through Saturday, March 18th, 1967 at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.  An ad for Preston Motors, inside the 1967 Melbourne Motor Show Guide Magazine seems to imply that there was at least one Camaro on display at “GMH Stand 18-21.”  “GMH” stands for General Motors Holden, which was the Australian division of General Motors.  The headline of the ad states, “Show stealers & Preston Motors have them all!”  Underneath are pictures of a Chevrolet Impala, a Buick Electra and a Camaro SS sport coupe with rally wheels.  To the right of the Camaro is the following caption, "CAMARO  Imported direct from the U.S.A.  All the fire of a sports car with the luxury of a prestige sedan.  An exhilarating car with famous Chevrolet desirability.”  In addition, two images of a Camaro RS/SS sport coupe appear in an ad from the Tuesday, March 7, 1967 edition of The Age, a Melbourne newspaper.  “Try exciting new Chevrolet Camaro” appears next to the larger image at the top while the headline of the ad announces, “See the Preston Motors line-up: the stars of the 1967 Motor Show! The ad copy states, “Wait no longer!  The Car of the Year has arrived . . . the swift, sleek Chevrolet Camaro!  Now in Melbourne and exclusive to Preston Motors, Chevrolet's exciting new Camaro, the luxury sports car that has taken America by storm! This car has everything you ever dreamed of.  It is undoubtedly Chevrolet's greatest achievement!  Be sure to see it at Stand 7.”
 
Since this ad says “Stand 7” and the other one says “Stand 18-21” Preston Motors might have had two different displays with at least two different Camaros.  Interestingly, Preston Motors is still in the business of selling cars.  They are now known as The PM Group and have been in business since 1912.

1st picture: Preston Motors Ad from Auto Show Guide: (https://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiefordadverts/5407645778/in/photostream)

2nd picture: Preston Motors Ad from newspaper (https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/122077670/)

SMKZ28

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Re: Australian Camaros
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2019, 03:05:48 AM »
I also mentioned:

The Camaro might have been “exclusive” to Preston Motors in Melbourne at the time the March 7,, 1967 newspaper ad came out but a magazine ad demonstrates that Bill Patterson Motors in Ringwood, Victoria, Australia soon also began importing and converting Camaros to right hand drive.  Bill Patterson not only owned this dealership but he was also a successful race car driver and race team owner.  Apparently, Ringwood is a suburb of Melbourne, so in 1967 you could get an imported Camaro from two different dealerships in the greater Melbourne area.
 
If you look closely at these Australian ads you will notice that the steering wheel is on the right side.  Regularly produced Camaros could not be sold in Australia.  According to Team Camaro web site member, “BlackoutSteve” from Melbourne, Australia, “Pontiacs and Chevrolets that were sold new here (Australian Delivery) were shipped as partially completed, complete from only the firewall back, and were then assembled at their destination by GM Holden, or a separate company commissioned by GMH.  GMH assembled the Australian delivery vehicles that were exported from Canada and were sold here as brand-new in GMH show-rooms.” (http://www.camaros.net/forums/66-whats-worth/163871-rhd-67-camaro.html)  A sentence posted in the foreign Camaro section of The Camaro Research Group web site seems to contradict this notion when it states, “there were no 67-69 Camaros exported by GM to Australia (due to the right-hand drive requirements), but a few were imported and converted by private companies.”  (http://www.camaros.org/foreign.shtml)

Picture: Bill Patterson Camaro Magazine Ad (https://www.flickr.com/photos/aussie-car-adverts/9173220515/in/album-72157664156363661/)

Jon Mello

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Re: Australian Camaros
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2019, 05:33:40 PM »
Here's a better look at that wheel cover.  I have no idea what other car it may have been used on but it is not anything Camaro fans are used to seeing.
Jon Mello
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ZLP955

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Re: Australian Camaros
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2019, 05:30:52 AM »
There was an article about the history of dealer-sourced RHD Camaros in Australia, in issue 106 of Australian Muscle Car Magazine; linked to the availability of late-model locally-converted models via HSV.
Tim in Australia.
1969 04A Van Nuys Z/28. Cortez Silver, Dark Blue interior, VE3 bumper, Z21, Z23, D55/U17, D80, flat hood.
Sold at Clippinger Chevrolet in Covina, CA. Ex-Racer at Lions Dragstrip in Long Beach.