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Post by Johann65 » Wed 22 Jul 2009, 13:07

I (Oracle) wrote this years ago for a magazine, and thought that it might interest:


Until the move in recent years to export r.h.d. versions of North American Chevrolet cars, it has been left to G.M.-Holdens to produce Chevrolet badged r.h.d. cars for certain export markets where they drive on the left. This arose from a deliberate decision by Ford and G.M. that from 1969 and 1970 respectively, all export r.h.d. cars were to be sourced from assembly plants overseas. Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen are now producing all r.h.d. versions of part of their ranges from their South African Plants. With the Ford Taurus, Ford produced their first r.h.d. U.S. cars since the days of the T. The first r.h.d. factory Chevrolets were the 1999 Mexican-assembled Suburban, followed by the Linden, New Jersey-assembled 2000 Model Chevrolet Blazer. It is not yet known when the next North American Chevrolet passenger cars will be offered in factory r.h.d., though Cadillac are already there.

The 1968 Model Year saw the end of assembly of the last C.K.D. Chevrolets and Canadian Pontiacs ex-Oshawa, Ontario, and St. Therese, Quebec, for G.M.-Holdens, G.M. New Zealand, and G.M. Continental, Antwerp, Belgium. These were assembled locally well into 1969 though. The r.h.d. versions of the Canadian Chevrolet body all used the basic 1965 l.h.d. dash with embellishments in the case of the 68 Pontiacs. This year was also the last for the [two year only] r.h.d. Chevrolet Caprice and Pontiac Grande Parisienne, assembled C.K.D. in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It was also, it is believed, the last year for the r.h.d. Sedan [pillared] and Convertible versions. This meant that for one year, 1969, there was just one model available in r.h.d. factory form for Chevrolet and Pontiac: the hardtop. After the last of the 69 cars, S.U.P. [built-up] or C.K.D. [for South Africa] left either of the Canadian Plants, the new lines for 1970 switched over to l.h.d. production only, at St. Therese, Quebec.

These last r.h.d. Chevrolets and Pontiacs were restricted to one model only, namely the Chevrolet Impala HT and Pontiac Parisienne HT, with either the 250 cu. in Six, or the 350 V-8, Chevrolet units in both cases though painted orange in Pontiacs. Although the 68 r.h.d. cars used the 65 Dash, the 69 Chevrolets used the l.h.d. 69 Dash transposed, and may have been installed in the Parisiennes as well though I have never seen one so cannot tell. The l.h.d. Parisienne Dash was nothing like the 69 Chevrolet, even though they used the same basic bodyshell, albeit with the 69 Chevrolet Wagon running gear under the Parisienne.

Although the r.h.d. cars were restricted to the HT versions, l.h.d. pillared Sedans and Convertibles were available for export as well. I have come across one only 69 l.h.d. Parisienne Convertible, VIN # 764679110358, which was exported new to the UK from Oshawa Plant, and one 69 r.h.d. Impala, # 16343992044739, from St. Therese Plant [note 1 was Oshawa, and 2 was St. Therese]. Both have the 350 Chevrolet engine, with THM 400 transmission. However, the Parisienne has horrible wood-look plastic internal trim to distinguish it internally. This export car has the Imperial m.p.h. speedo, which might be very rare as I am not sure that Canada had reverted to k.m.h. by then. I have information on another 1969 Chevrolet Impala, registered September 1970, # 164692059502, again from St. Therese Plant, though I am not certain whether it was l.h.d. or r.h.d.: this was a pillared sedan and not the HT.

Although G.M. stopped exporting C.K.D. cars to all but S.A. for 69 Model Year, reasonable numbers of r.h.d. Impalas, equipped with the 250 Six mostly, though some were V-8 powered, were imported into Australia and New Zealand. The latter market also received it seems l.h.d. cars, HT and Sedan versions. There were no doubt cars delivered to other markets as well. The last 69 r.h.d. cars sold new were in fact assembled in Port Elizabeth well into 1970. These were either Impalas or Parisiennes, and were V-8 powered exclusively I believe. Chrysler S.A. assembled the last of the 69 Valiant Barracudas as they were called locally, with the indigenous slant six as against the Hamtranck, Detroit, Plant 283 V-8 which the UK received. These were the last assembled N. American Chryslers until the Neon.

One of the reasons why G.M. and Chrysler decided not to offer the r.h.d. versions of their cars for 70 was because the B-Body and Barracuda bodies were all-new for 70 and the cost of re-engineering for the limited markets was too high. In the case og G.M., all r.h.d. Pontiac assembly stopped, though Chevrolet badging was put onto Opels and Holdens instead. Ford of Australia supplied r.h.d. Fords for export, save in the case of the to 73 LTD which were converted by Ford of Australia for their own consumption.

It is amazing to see that a Parisienne Convertible was ever offered new in the UK, but they were, as well as an Impala Convertible. These huge cars were simply too big for UK roads, though some 70 Impala and Parisienne Models were also imported subsequently. From 1970, some modicum of commonsense prevailed and the importers, General Motors Limited, pushed the smaller Monte Carlo instead though build quality was simply not up to the high price that had to be charged.

-- Edited by Oracle on Tuesday 21st of July 2009 03:49:52 PM
Oracle wrote:

I would be fascinated to know what the assembly manual etc say about rhd cars.


Oracle; Thank you for a great piece of History that I was part of. My Avatar shows my 1965 Malibu Chevelle that was CKD'd in Nov 1964 from Oshawa and assembled whilst I was a Specifications Clerk (1965 to 1966) At the GMSA Plant in Port Elizabeth.

My daily task, humble as it may have been was to keep the GM specification manuals up to date. I never saw any reference to RHD models. I am fortunate in having an original GM Dealers Maintenance in my possesion which covers the Chevrolet, Chevelle and Chevy II models and was printed in Canada in 1964. This manual also does not refer to RHD models
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Ah! Yes I remember it well! (Only GM's!)
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Post by woblzdesign » Wed 22 Jul 2009, 21:07

i just read on another forum a guy rebuilt a pontiac firebird, but made it right hand drive, i guess using RHD parts from the cars above the rebuild was made possible.

i guess a similar RHD conversion can be done using ranchero/fairmont RHD parts on a mustang, to convert the mustang to RHD.

i think with all the issues around LHD, RHD conversions will start becoming more comon.
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Post by Bearhawke » Thu 23 Jul 2009, 02:46

For vintage American GM cars at least: the key to a mirror image AKA a 'factory' RHD conversion is a RHD Jeep XJ (Cherokee) steering gear. Another option would be an American LHD 1968-91 Chevy/GMC C series PS gear (the one with the frame mtg pad on the right [passenger] side of the casting--------the gear mounts on the outside of the LH frame rail)
Bearhawke in Az, USA

1998 Plymouth Grand Voyager minivan.

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