Editor’s letter

IS IT WRONG TO SALIVATE OVER AUSTRALIA’S IMPORTED MUSCLE COUPE FUTURE WHEN IT’S THE VERY SAD DEMISE OF OUR HOMEGROWN HEROES THAT CLEARS THE LAST HURDLE TO THEIR RAMPAGING INVASION?

GLENN BUTLER

I’ll be sad when the lights go out on the production lines at Elizabeth and Broadmeadows, both for the brilliant rear-drive cars they built and the thousands of Australian jobs lost. We’re unlikely to see their kind again, our Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore.

But life goes on. We’re not going to be short of affordable rear-drive V8 weaponry after 2017.

Last month Wheels broke the news that Chrysler has all but stamped the Dodge Challenger coupe’s passport for an extended stay Down Under (wearing a Charger badge).

Ford Mustang’s arrival is imminent, in coupe and convertible forms, with turbo four and V8 engines.

Ponch’s enthusiasm after our first drive Stateside a few months back has me itching for my first Australian taste later this year.

And now we’ve learned that Holden is crunching the numbers on its own American muscle coupe.

But which one? Corvette or Camaro? As you’ll read

With its looks and dynamics, the Chevrolet Corvette has no natural rival in Oz

from page 10, Corvette is the more likely, but don’t think for a minute that Camaro has been ruled out. It too could come to Oz if a profitable business case can be mounted.

Which one makes the most sense for Holden post-2017? The answer comes down to goals.

Volume model, or halo effect?

Or… can Holden have both?

If volume is the goal, Camaro is the better choice. Especially if Holden looks beyond the V8 performance models to the 205kW turbo four and 250kW V6 variants. Bring ’em all, and price them with intent. A two-door will never recoup lost Commodore sedan, wagon and ute sales, but a 250kW Camaro V6 for the Commodore SV6’s $36,790 is lineball with Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 GTS. Which one would you choose? Lightweight brains or muscle car brawn?

The case for Corvette is far simpler, and far more expensive. Currency rates put the Corvette’s $US55K starting price at $72,000 before RHD conversion, shipping and various other costs associated with launching a new model in a foreign land (homologation, spare parts inventory, staff training and so much more). With a much lower volume potential, the add-on cost per unit skyrockets. And headline-hungry websites will regurgitate superficial stories about how Aussies are again getting ripped off.

Look at it another way. You’ll need to spend $245K on the Carrera S to get close to the Vette’s four-second performance. The Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe is much cheaper at $160K, the BMW M4 is $167K, but both are high-po executions of more common premium coupes. The Nissan GT-R is $172K, and would undoubtedly beat a Corvette in a straight line, but we both know which would be more engaging. Closest to Corvette in terms of uniqueness, brashness and performance is the Jaguar F-Type R at $226K. But all that Jaguar luxury means it’s easily 150kg heavier.

My point is, none of those desirable machines line up succinctly against the Corvette. With its looks and dynamics, the Corvette has no natural rival. And, once Holden and HSV’s Commodore ranges disappear, even the Vette’s engine will be unique. And that’ll make it desirable, even with a $150K price tag.

Then, for those of us whose budget can’t stretch that far, there’s the Camaro.

Dodge on fi re

HISTORY suggests that evocative, emotive purchases like sports coupes sell like crazy in the fi rst year or so and then, when demand from early adopters wanes, volume plummets dramatically. Nobody told Dodge Challenger. Its US domestic sales have increased every year since 2011 to a record high of 51,611 in 2014.