The Holden Monaro and the Ford Falcon have represented Australia’s finest domestically produced automotive muscle and for many decades they have been enduring icons of Australian lifestyle and manufacturing ability. However with such a strong connection to American car culture through the media and in particular movies, it was inevitable that U.S classic cars became the target for people looking for something unique.
Aussie’s could never go to the dealership and purchase a Mustang (not until recently anyway!) or a pristine Camaro, Dodge, Pontiac, Chevrolet, or Plymouth, just to name a few. Maybe the fact they were so rare added to their mystique and perhaps what made them so desirable?
Importation was possible, but there was a very large difference between Australian and U.S built cars. Americans drove on the left hand side of the road and Australian’s drove on the right hand side of the road. As a result, American cars were built as Left Hand Drive vehicles to suit the conditions, whereas Aussie cars were built to suit driving on the right hand side of the road.
Early on, most Australian states determined that any LHD vehicles imported had to be converted to RHD. Where there is a will there is a way and although some may see it as sacrilege, conversion laws were written and those keen enough started to have a crack at conversions themselves.
Enthusiasts had to go through the hard yards and get their hands dirty to find out what worked and what didn’t, but conversion specialists soon created an industry and were able to cater to those seeking to own an American classic by taking care of the entire process, at a cost.
The conversion process has never been an easy task, generally including removing and changing the firewall, steering column, pedals, brake and clutch masters, wiring, lights, hand brake, wipers, seats, console, control leavers and gear selectors, just to name a few items.
Fortunately for us, times have changed and so have the laws. For the majority of American classics, Australians won’t need to go to the lengths of carrying out a conversion as most can be legally driven in left hand drive, depending on their age and the state you live in. However, if you have had yours eyes on some later model vehicles you would be best to wait it out or start saving those pennies!
To find out more about the regulations around conversions in your state, contact your local roads authority.