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Holden Ute History

A Look Back at the Holden Ute

By

SS Holden Ute Front View

SS Holden Ute, Front View

GM/Holden Media
Think the only way you can have an El Camino or Ranchero is to restore a vintage version? Not if you live in Australia, where their counterparts are alive and well.

Australia was the birthplace of these car-truck hybrids, which are generically referred to as "utes," short for utility. The Holden Ute is just one example of these popular vehicles, and it's among that company's bestsellers.

Holden Ltd. was building truck bodies way before General Motors bought the company in the 1930s (a major part of Holden's business up to that time was providing a variety of vehicle bodies to several auto manufacturers).

The Australian public wanted a vehicle they could take to town or drive through the fields, a step-up from an everyday pickup truck. Enter the Holden Ute, officially introduced to the public in 1951. There were other ute-like vehicles prior to that date, used in part by the military and all built on sedan bodies with truck utility beds.

Recent Holden Ute Variations
Holden's recent Utes give us an idea of what the El Camino might look like if it were still in production. There were three variations in recent model years, the basic Ute plus two models with additional features: the S model and the familiar-sounding SS. All are equipped with independent rear suspension, enhancing the Ute's sedan-like ride and handling qualities.

Standard on Recent SS Utes:

  • High-Output 235kW 5.7 liter Generation III Alloy V8 engine with performance exhaust.

  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).

  • Front fog lights.

  • Power windows. Express down driver and passenger window. Remain powered on time delay after engine is switched off.

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel.

  • 17" alloy wheels.

  • Electric driver's seat height adjust. Includes front and rear cushion tilt.

  • Blaupunkt AM/FM stereo with 6 disc in-dash CD player, four speakers, equalizer to enhance each music style and remote controls on the steering wheel. Total 40 watts.

  • Advanced security system includes remote control power key.

  • Full size driver and passenger airbags.

UTEster Sports Coupe Concept
The bright yellow UTEster concept was first shown to the public in 2001. It has a removable glass roof, a tonneau cover and a rear window that slides out of sight.

The UTEster's custom-designed interior features leather seats with yellow baseball stitching, unique instrumentation and a luxury entertainment center with DVD. It's powered by a 5.7 litre GEN III V8 engine and is fitted with premium Harrop brakes.

Pictures of Classic Holden Utes

2010 Pontiac G8 Sport Truck (Ute fans were hopeful that this body style would return to the U.S., but General Motors scrapped the G8 project.)

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