Those giant, shiny American pick-ups we see in movies and on TV can now be bought from a new outlet in Brisbane — and they share the showroom with something completely different, the first Chinese-built Haval SUVs to go on sale in Queensland.
Leading independent vehicle importer Performax International has undertaken a major expansion from its Gympie headquarters, opening its new sales, service and parts centre at North Lakes.
Performax is one of the Australian motor industry’s little-known heroes, founded more than 25 years ago and more employing 100 staff – mostly at its Gympie factory – who are expected to produce around 400 American pick-ups, costing up to $150,000 each, this year.
Brand-new and fully warranted, Performax’s right-hand drive Chevy Silverados, GMC Denalis, Ford F-250 Super Dutys and Toyota Tundras are government-approved for registration anywhere in Australia.
The company’s own North Lakes dealership is the flagship in a national network of 16. Most of the outlets are regionally-based, where there is more demand from farmers, miners, construction companies, horse enthusiasts, carnival operators and others who need heavy-duty, four-wheel drive towing capacity, vast interior space and long-distance comfort.
North Lakes now helps showcase these imposing vehicles to urban drivers, especially those with recreational towing needs that substantially exceed the capacity of the more popular Japanese, European or British off-roaders.
It’s also the first Queensland outlet for the recently-launched Haval brand. Although it’s new to Australia and Queensland, the Haval H2, H8 and H9 range represents the biggest-selling SUV brand in China over the past 13 years.
Haval is an offshoot of Great Wall Motors, which soared fairly briefly in Australia with a low-priced ute and SUV before falling to earth amid corporate wrangling over distribution rights.
The Great Walls sold well because of their low prices but were not well regarded by reviewers. They’re expected to return sometime and to be better.
Meanwhile, the Havals seem a very different proposition.
Fitting the compact, medium and large SUV segments, they’re tastefully designed, well finished and generously equipped. Initial reviews have been guardedly complimentary.
Neither does the recommended pricing fit the cheap-Chinese stereotype, with the 1.5 litre H2 (two- or four-wheel drive) starting at $26,490 and the 2.0 litre H8 (2WD or 4WD) $44,490 and H9 (4WD only) $46,490. The H9 comes with a heavy-duty separate chassis.
Performax International started business as Corvette Queensland when young car fans Greg Waters and Brian Learoyd each decided they wanted a Chevy Corvette sports car.
Other enthusiasts liked their work and ordered their own from the pair and over the years the business developed a national reputation for the quality of its conversions on Corvettes, Ford Mustangs and the world’s first RHD version of the current Chevy Camaro.
Performax North Lakes exhibited the latest Corvette C7 Stingray at its recent showroom opening and will build more examples to order for wealthy customers, but its main focus will continue to be on being Australia’s biggest and best-quality supplier of American pick-ups.