Two men and a ute beaut idea

A pair of Colorado me­chan­ics are sell­ing Hold­ens to the Americans

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS - JOSHUA DOWLING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING ED­I­TOR joshua.dowling@news.com.au

TWO me­chan­ics have man­aged to do what Holden could not achieve: ex­port the Holden ute to North Amer­ica.

Holden came so close to sell­ing the home­grown ute in the land of “pick-up trucks” that it had rap­per 50 Cent un­veil a Pon­tiac ver­sion of the Com­modore ute at the New York mo­tor show in 2008.

But the ex­port plans were scrapped once the Global Fi­nan­cial Cri­sis hit later that year, and Gen­eral Mo­tors chose not to re­vive the pro­gram and sell the ute as a Chevro­let.

En­ter John Ehrlich and Ran­dall Reese, en­tre­pre­neur­ial me­chan­ics from Den­ver, Colorado, who started im­port­ing Holden utes from Aus­tralia 18 months ago, and are now up to their 16th de­liv­ery.

“Gen­eral Mo­tors is crazy,” Ehrlich says. “They missed a mas­sive op­por­tu­nity here. The work was done to make th­ese into left-hand-drive, we can’t un­der­stand why they didn’t bring them in as Chevro­lets.”

The pair spe­cialises in the V8 Holden utes and have just be­gun left-hand-drive con­ver­sions of the top-of-the-line Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles Maloo, which has the same V8 as the Corvette.

“Holden has a real cult fol­low­ing over here. Ab­so­lutely peo­ple know what it is when they see it,” Reese says.

“It re­minds them of the Chevro­let El Camino pick-ups we had in the 1970s.”

The Den­ver boys, who trade un­der Lefthandutes.com, sell their sec­ond-hand and con­verted utes for be­tween $40,000 for a Holden SS to $95,000 for a top-line HSV Maloo, about 20 per cent more than what Aus­tralians pay for sim­i­lar sec­ond-hand mod­els.

In the US, two Aus­tralians liv­ing in Florida have bought one each but the re­main­ing cus­tomers are Americans liv­ing in New York, Wash­ing­ton, and Vir­ginia.

What will the Den­ver boys do once Holden ends pro­duc­tion in Aus­tralia by the end of 2017?

“We’ll keep buy­ing them sec­ond-hand,” Reese says. “There is noth­ing like this on the road in Amer­ica. I can’t be­lieve Holden and Gen­eral Mo­tors are let­ting go of the ute. It’s such a great con­cept: a pickup with per­for­mance.”

Tradie fair: John Ehrlich, left, and Ran­dall Reese with an HSV Maloo

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