Two men and a ute beaut idea
A pair of Colorado mechanics are selling Holdens to the Americans
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