GMSV to launch a little red Corvette

Speciality importer GMSV opens the books for Aussie fans to order the iconic Corvette sportscar.

GM Special Vehicles (GMSV), the entity created to import and distribute specialist GM vehicles to Australia following the demise of Holden and HSV, has opened the order books for local sales of the iconic Corvette sportscar. 

While many fans of Holden and HSV performance models are still rueing the demise of local manufacturing and the end of the road for Holden and its Commodore-based hero models, GMSV is seeking to fill that void with the import and conversion of selected models from the US.

The brand currently sells the full-size Silverado pick-up here but is preparing to add what is arguably GM’s most iconic model, the C8 Corvette sportscar. 

The two-door, two-seat mid-engine sportscar is GM’s undeniable hero model, with performance that rivals Porsche and even some Ferrari models.   

Unlike the Silverado, which is imported to Melbourne as a left-hand-drive model and converted to right-hand drive for GMSV by the Walkinshaw Group, the Corvette will be imported as a factory-built right-hand drive directly from GM’s Bowling Green, Kentucky, plant in the USA.

A source said GMSV’s Australia and New Zealand operations were vying with Japan and the UK for stock of the in-demand high-performance model, which is being built in factory right hand drive for the first time in the nameplate’s storied 68-year history.  

The eight-generation, or C8, Corvette launched in the US in July 2019 as a 2020 model and is the first model in the brand’s history to feature a rear mid-engine configuration.

Power comes from a 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 which, when equipped with the performance package expected here, generates a mighty 369kW and 637Nm. 

That’s enough to propel the 1527kg sports car from 0-100km/h in around 2.9 seconds, which is in the ballpark of Porsche’s $473,500 911 Turbo S and Ferrari’s $485,000 F8Tributo. 

Pricing for even the most expensive Corvette model will be less than half this.

Supercars driver Craig Lowndes and a CR Corvette sportscar.

Supercars driver Craig Lowndes and a C8 Corvette.

The Corvette which will be sold in 2LT, 3LT, and in both coupe and retractable hardtop convertible body styles and priced from $144,990 (MRLP). 

The range-topping Limited Edition Carbon Edition model, which will be sold as a coupe only, for a recommended price of $189,990 (MRLP). 

While it’s as unclear if the specification of Australian Corvette models will mirror their US namesakes, media reports there suggest that the 2LT spec includes standard heated/ventilated seats, wireless phone charging, 14-speaker Bose stereo system, satellite navigation, and a heated steering wheel. 

The more upmarket Corvette 3LT includes everything offered in the 2LT package plus an upgraded touchscreen, performance data recorder, Nappa leather seats, and leather-wrapped interior components.

The Carbon Edition will be exclusive to Australia and New Zealand, with a statement from GMSV confirming only one vehicle would be allocated to each of its dealers, meaning 57 here and just seven across the ditch.

It’s based on a 3LT Coupe, but comes equipped with options including carbon-fibre interior trim on the dash and door panels, specially designed spectra grey Trident wheels with machined face, colour-coded brake calipers, a carbon-fibre roof, engine appearance lighting package with carbon-fibre panels, unique build plate, and an exclusive Carbon Edition customer pack. 

GMSV said confirmation of pricing for the limited-edition model and the opening of the order books was the final step ahead of arrivals of the much-vaunted model later this year. 

However, a spokesman cautioned that COVID-19-impacted shipping constraints meant an exact arrival date could not be pinpointed.

Despite this, GMSV Director Joanne Stogiannis said: “The long wait is over, the books are open, and our dealers are ready to place orders. 

“Excitement and anticipation have been building since the reveal of the C8 right-hand drive programme almost two years ago, even more so when we released recommended retail pricing for 2LT and 3LT models in late March.”

Chevrolet Silverado pick-up.

GM Slverado pick-up.

The release of Corvette pricing and opening of the order books is the latest step in the growth of one of Australia’s newest and most controversial automotive brands. 

GMSV was established in July 2020 against the backdrop of an outcry from the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA), following GM’s axing of the Holden brand just six months earlier. 

The AADA was a vocal critic of the way the Holden closure had been managed by GM, and what it claimed had been inadequate compensation packages offered to the brand’s former dealers. 

Despite that and an ongoing Senate inquiry into the Holden closure at the time, GM went ahead and confirmed the launch of the new entity, with the goal of supplying a selection of GM vehicles to customers in both Australia and New Zealand. 

GMSV commenced operations in the fourth quarter of 2020, with GM Holden’s Interim Chairman and Managing Director at the time, Kristian Aquilina, saying the new venture would “directly adds sales, marketing and aftersales roles to GM’s 200-strong presence in Australia, and indirectly support over 150 skilled engineering and manufacturing jobs at our partner in Victoria.”

The partner in question was the Walkinshaw Automotive Group, which formerly manufactured Holden Special Vehicles and now operates a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Melbourne, specialising in the importation and conversion of Chevy and RAM pickups for the Australian and New Zealand markets. 

GMSV’s initial product line-up consisted only of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 in two trim levels, which as at the end of May this year had notched up 175 sales, behind its nearest rival the US-import RAM pickup on 262 sales.

GMSV is expected to add the larger Silverado 2500 pick-up in the fourth quarter, as well as the Corvette, which will boost the brand’s sales presence through the back half of 2021.  

GMSV Director Joanne Stogiannis said at the time of the brand’s launch that sales of large US pick-ups had been growing consistently in Australia and that she believed “the ongoing strength of that segment will provide a very solid basis for us to build a successful long-term business”.

GMSV C8 Corvette recommended retail price (Excluding on-road costs and statutory charges):

 Carbon Edition (Coupe only)    $189,990
 2LT Coupe   $144,990
 2LT Convertible   $159,990
 3LT Coupe    $160,500
 3LT Convertible   $175,500