Remember back when Ford and Holden (or FPV and HSV, if the pockets of your cargo pants were deep enough) were duking it out for homegrown performance car supremacy with the Falcon and Commodore?
Theres was an iconic and decades-long brawl that spilled over from our racetracks and onto streets and driveways across the country. Until suddenly, it didn't. Amazing how much can change in a few short years, right?
Because we're mid-way through 2018 now, and post the collapse of local manufacturing, Australia's performance car market is looking very different, indeed. Seriously, imagine having awoken from six-year coma today: No V8 Commodores. No Falcons. No FPV. And HSV is tuning... utes?
So now in the blue corner, you have Ford's imported V8 Mustang; not just one of the world's most iconic nameplates, but one that clearly had plenty of local fans salivating at the prospect of an Oz launch, if its immediate and booming sales here (a whopping 9165 units in 2017 alone) are anything to go by.
And in the red corner, you have... well, nothing. At least, not yet. The V6-powered imported Commodores aside, Holden had been conspicuously quiet on the performance-car front.
But those ever-growing Mustang sales weren't going to go unnoticed, nor unanswered, forever. And so Ford won't have the V8 market to itself for much longer. Because from around August 2018, HSV will unleash GM's own icon, the Chevrolet Camaro, in Australia, finally answering the Stang's war cry with a V8 rumble of its very own.
And so, here is everything we know about the 2018 HSV/Chevrolet Camaro.
Presumably tired of hearing misty-eyed Holden fans asking "is the Camaro coming to Australia?", HSV has neatly side-stepped the usual time-consuming process of begging GM to build them in right-hand drive, instead importing left-hookers from the States and converting them in its new Clayton (Melbourne) factory, instead. It's the same place the brand's imported Silverado trucks will be converted, too.
"(We're) moving all the key things from the left-hand side to right-hand side," says HSV's managing director, Tim Jackson. "The goal should be when they sit in a left-hand-drive car or a right-hand-drive car, they can't tell the difference."
That intricate process may explain what took so long for the Camaro to arrive, with the American muscle car only offered in left-hand drive, and with HSV (already busy with Commodores) having no real capacity to convert them. Besides, Holden clearly wanted to keep an ace or two up its sleeve post the homegrown Commodore, and the HSV Camaro, along with the incoming right-hand drive Corvette, certainly provide it with a handy one-two performance punch.
That means HSV will be importing the Camaro currently being sold in the USA - the sixth-generation 2SS Coupe (no convertible or fire-breathing ZL1 for us - though the latter is the Ford-crushing Chevy Camaro Australia's fans are surely crying out for) which has been prowling American roads for the past three years or so. It is understood the cars will then be sold as Chevrolets, though from select HSV/Holden dealerships.
While HSV is yet to update us on timings, we're expecting to see the first cars around the end of August. In fact, the brand's own site now heralds the incoming muscle car, and so it helps us shine a little light on the Chevrolet Camaro Australia has been waiting for.
Australian buyers can expect the Camaro's 6.2-litre (6162cc) V8, good for 339kW and a whopping 617Nm. While HSV is yet to quote an official 0-100km/h time, it should be enough to knock off the sprint in around four seconds (Chevy in the USA claims 0-60mph in a 4.0sec).
For comparison, the 2018 Ford Mustang GT Fastback's 5.0-litre V8 fires 339kW and 556Nm to the rear tyres, knocking off the sprint to 100km/h in around 4.3sec.
That engine pairs only with an eight-speed automatic (for now - though a manual should touch down in 2019) and sends its power to the rear wheels, where a standard limited-slip differential helps keep things in order. At the back, a bi-modal exhaust should prove plenty loud enough to annoy the neighbours, while stopping power will be provided by Brembo four-piston brakes front and rear.
Expect lightweight 20-inch alloys, a dual-tip exhaust and the usual collection of ground-kissing skirting and sky-high bonnet bulges we've come to expect from the Camaro. Inside, leather-trimmed seats are heated and cooled, and there's a flat-bottom leather wheel, dual-zone climate control, a nine-speaker Bose stereo and ambient interior lighting all as standard.
Which brings us to the only real unknown for now - the price. With Ford asking $66,259 for its GT Fastback with a 10-speed automatic, there must be some pressure on HSV to sharpen the pencil on the Camaro. That said, rumours do swirl of a circa-$90k asking price, though it is yet to be confirmed.
And so, in 2018, it will be Ford versus Holden for the battle of V8 performance supremacy. Sometimes the more things change...