Around fifty members and friends braved the bleak, wintry conditions to enjoy a hearty meal and good company at our Drouin Golf Club meeting this month.
Club member, David Parsons arranged for a couple of his work mates from Holden Special Vehicles in Melbourne to attend our meeting in one of their right-hand-drive converted ZL1 Camaros. Brian Evans and Simon Jesty are engineers who formulate procedures and design components using CAD/CAM technology to convert the American left-hand-drive Camaro to right-hand-drive. This involves an almost complete dismemberment of the imported vehicle followed by an extensive rebuild that is necessary to meet the sometimes more-complex requirements of the Australian Design Rules standards, whilst maintaining the integrity, performance and appearance of a factory-built car.
Dave has recently retired from HSV, but has worked extensively in the Australian motor industry since receiving a 6-month cadetship with Holden in 1968. At GMH he worked on everything from Bedford trucks to the V and L series Commodores before moving to Nissan and introducing CAD/CAM technology well ahead of where Ford and GM were at the time. Dave was also part of the team that brought the Skyline ‘Godzilla’ to Australia and although having no budget, managed to achieve its ADR compliance. After Nissan, Dave contracted out to Ford and Mitsubishi before picking up the gig at HSV where he worked with TWR to introduce CAD/CAM technology. When not working in the motor industry Dave is building an extensively modified 1966 Chevy Nova in his garage at home in Pakenham. This beasty makes use of a 400bhp LS3 V8 and 6-speed manual transmission from a discarded Holden test mule. Suspension is Jaguar XJ40 all around and everything is of course plotted onto a CAD platform as you would expect. Now that Dave’s retired, we hope to see the Nova project progressing in leaps and bounds.
With the demise of large-scale vehicle manufacturing in Australia, HSV is now our largest vehicle manufacturer, turning out around 8000 vehicles per year. That number includes a daily output of 15 Dodge Ram right-hand-drive converted trucks, which are then sold on through ATECO Group dealers, 8 Chev Camaros which are distributed through select Holden dealerships, as well as 4 Chev Silverado right-hand-drive converted trucks. HSV has recently moved to new premises in Clayton South and added a night shift to increase their production. They have around 300 staff including more than a dozen engineers.
The re-engineered Camaro is available in two different models. The 2SS which retails for $98,000 and uses the normally-aspirated 6.2 litre V8 producing 340kW, and the ZL1 which, thanks to the boys from HSV, was the model on display this month in the dining room. The ZL1 retails for $160,000 and has a supercharged version of the 6.2 litre V8. It produces 477kW and 880Nm of torque. Although it’s no light-weight at 1750 kilograms, the ZL1 can sprint from 0 – 100km/h in 3.5 seconds and covers the quarter mile in 11.3 seconds. When cruising, the engine drops 4 cylinders and returns remarkable fuel economy.
We thank David, Brian and Simon for bringing the Camaro along and giving us a very interesting presentation explaining the amount of work involved in rebuilding these cars to meet ADR compliance so that they can be made available to the Australian enthusiast.