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Camaro in hot demand

Last week's "Hottest Car" award at SEMA is official acknowlegement by the auto aftermarket industry that the Camaro is the most popular car to customise in the US.  The local connection continued when the award was received by Alan Batey, who was Holden's managing director before headed Stateside to become Chevrolet vice-president of sales and service.

Batey is the latest in a long line of Holden talent GM has tapped to help its US operations and was at SEMA to oversee the four official Camaro entries on display, though they were hidden among a staggering 130 examples of the model, with everyone from Popular Mechanics to DUB magazine putting Camaros on show.

"We were naturally thrilled when we saw Camaro collect another accolade for its styling," Holden design director Tony Stolfo says.  "The team in the States did a great job preparing the winning entry for the show, adding even more muscle to what is a special design.

"Given the Australian connection to the Camaro program, it was nice that Alan Batey, a former Holden man, was there to accept the honour."  The Camaro has already been a huge commercial success for GM, with just under 100,000 cars selling in its first year of production to May this year to outsell it main rival, the Ford Mustang, by almost 20,000 vehicles.

It has also been judged the World Car Design of the Year and the "Ideal Vehicle" in the sports car category by AutoPacific, which is decided on interviews with new car owners.

And it's the new owners that are interesting GM, with its research showing around half of Camaro buyers are new to the Chevy brand.  That number is expected to grow when the convertible version goes on sale later this year after being previewed at this week's Los Angeles Motor Show.

Even the South Africans want to toy with our hot-rod Holdens. Tuning company LupiniPower has launched a 400kW Chevrolet SuperUte pick-up. The car is based on the Commodore SS ute - sold in South Africa as the Chevy Ute SS - with a supercharger fitted to the 6.0-litre V8 and upgraded brakes and suspension.

LupiniPower says its automatic SuperUte hits 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds and is more fuel-efficient than the standard vehicle, claiming 9.9 litres for 100km against the regular model's 10.2 litres/100km.  The company is also offering the same upgrades on the Commodore SS sedan, which South Africans know as a Chevy Lumina.