GM Downunder - Workshop Profile

By: Mark Higgins, Photography by: Mark Higgins

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It shows what can happen when you're not paying attention - Dave headed stateside to buy himself a car and came back with a business

With Aussie classic and muscle car prices skyrocketing many of our local favourites are simply out of reach for the average punter.

I mean, who has a lazy million to drop on a Phase III GT-HO? Not many of us, right? So why not buy American?

Before you say it’s ‘too bloody hard’ let me tell you about Queensland-based GM Downunder, run by Dave Harber.

gm-downunder-5.jpgDave started his car importing caper about 15 years ago when he went hunting for his second Corvette. After getting enough coin together he quickly discovered none of the cars were up to scratch to buy or restore, so he headed to the States to find what he wanted.

At that moment GM Downunder was born with the aim to find and import the highest quality cars and he hasn’t looked back. Dave sure puts his money where his mouth is and buys all his stock, with his own hard-earned and doesn’t buy anything but the best.

Originally it was Corvettes but over the years that has expanded to an assortment of makes and models spanning the late 50s to the late 70s. Dave reckons that’s when America made their best cars with loads of style, performance and value. No argument there.

corvette-rear.jpgWhen I visited Dave at his Bribie Island showroom I was blown away with the variety and number of cars to choose from. What caught my eye was a mint big-block 1967 SS Camaro for around $80,000 and a couple of gorgeous Corvettes. Glad I didn’t have my credit card on me, otherwise there would have been a bit of explaining to do when I got home.

What is obvious when talking with Dave and wandering through his showroom and workshop is his passion and knowledge for American muscle. He reckons the key to his success is having the ability to find the right cars and being fussy.

So a lot of the pressure falls to Dave’s eyes and ears on the ground in the USA, John Piovesan. He’s an Australian who has lived in the states for over 30 years.

camaro-2.jpgThey met when Dave contacted John about a 1969 Chev Corvette L71, once owned by actor Nicholas Cage, that he was selling. They’ve been doing business together ever since.

John not only locates the premium cars, he takes care of all the shipping, paperwork and makes sure everything is tickety boo before it leaves the country.

GM Downunder’s staff specialises in panel beating, painting and mechanical work. Without giving away ages, let’s just say they did their apprenticeships and spent their early years on cars like these back in the day. Everything they learnt then is now devoted to keeping these beauties going strong.

gm-downunder-11.jpgIf you already have an American muscle or classic car and want anything from a light fettling to a full body off resto, give GM Downunder a call. Pretty much everything is done in-house – paint, panels, interior, chrome, mechanicals. It really is a one-stop shop.

Dave’s philosophy is if you start with a very good car you will end up with an excellent one and if you start with an ordinary car, you won’t end up with an extra-ordinary car.

What sets GM Downunder apart is not only their passion, skill and knowledge of American cars, but also knowing where to look for them. Dave and John only buy cars in the dry climes of America like California, Nevada – never from the snow affected areas, minimising the chance of rust. Then it’s knowing what to look for with each make and model and Dave says there have been many occasions where he and John have looked at over 15 cars just to get the right one. Matching numbers, especially on Corvettes, with their low build numbers is essential. It isn’t so vital for Mustangs and Camaros.

corvette-5.jpgOnce the cars arrive here in their container Dave and his team – not the shipping company or dock workers –unpack them and check
their fluids etc before firing them up.

When you arrive at Dave’s showroom you will instantly become a kid in a candy store. I guarantee it. There is so much to choose from with anywhere up to 40 cars on show and ready to go. In fact it is not unusual for a buyer to turn up with his or her heart set on one car to go home driving another.

gm-downunder-8.jpgYou don’t need to fret over getting a roadworthy, or documentation or service back-up as Dave looks after all that.

Dave prides himself and reputation on the quality of his cars with customer happiness and long-term satisfaction being what it is all about.

"There’s nothing better than hearing from a customer a week or so after buying his or her car telling me all about their first adventure in it. That makes it all worthwhile," says Dave.

GM DOWNUNDER
Dave Harber

11 Armitage Street,
Unit 1 & 2. Bribie Island,
Queensland

gmdownunder.com.au

 

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