HOLDEN SANDMAN UTILITY
BODY & CHASSIS
Ensuring that you are buying a genuine Sandman is essential. Codes XX7 or XU3 following the model designation on the Build Plate should denote a genuine vehicle, but they were only used in the Brisbane factory and some did leave without them. Expert assessment is recommended before buying and even then 100 per cent certainty is unlikely. Despite the vehicles’ popularity when new, HQ-HZ ute side panels are difficult to find, so check carefully for rust and excessive filler. Reproduction tailgate skins. mudguards and the bonnet are available but check around windscreens, wheel-arches, the cabin floor and lower firewall for rust. Reproduction stripes and decals are available or they can be copied by a vehicle sign-writer.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
If your Sandman engine isn’t blowing blue smoke, leaking buckets of oil from the rear crankshaft seal or overheating then it probably has a fair chunk of life left. Even if the motor is tired, all the parts needed for a rebuild are available and inexpensive. Retaining the original engine is important if you’re looking to maintain the value of an otherwise original vehicle and a professional bottomend rebuild should cost $3500-5000. The original four-speed manual or Tri-matic transmissions easily handle the output of standard engines and they too are easily reconditioned.
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
No endemic dramas here as the HQ-HZ commercial models stuck with coil front/ leaf rear suspension which was tough and very basic. Worn shock absorbers and chopped-out wheel bearings are common, so it’s worth giving the front wheels a wiggle and the front end a ‘bounce’ test. V8s had power disc front brakes which are adequate if in good condition. Look for excessive brake pedal travel or hydraulic system leaks. These can be revealed by pressing the pedal for around 30 seconds with the engine running and noting if it heads towards the floor.
INTERIOR & ELECTRICS
Bucket seats, door armrests trim and GTSstyle steering wheels are the items of interior trim that put Sandman utes in a class above basic bench-seat versions. The interior plastics were good quality but 40+ years of sun and neglect will cause cracks and possible disintegration of switch-gear. New items aren’t generally available but replacing the centre console with a reproduction item will cost around $1000. Unless the vehicle has been treated to a complete restoration the wiring is likely original and prone to failure, so make sure that indicators, the ventilation fan and high-beam headlights all work. Factory airconditioning is a major bonus but may need considerable money spent to work reliably.