Australia – If Mad Max Had Driven A Pickup, This Would Be It

October 6, 2011

When I attended the Australian Cotton Conference sometime in the mid 1990s, one of the things that fascinated me was the way Australian pickup trucks had evolved.

Long before Americans recognized the versatility of 4 doors on a work truck, the Aussies had long been building what we refer to as crew cabs and putting them on both large and small trucks.

And the nation also continued building or importing small, car-based pickups, vehicles that reminded me of the old Chevy El Camino and the Ford Ranchero, vehicles that U.S. companies stopped marketing in the late 1970s.

The  concept of the car-based pickup truck seems to have started in Australia in the 1930s. As the story goes,  a farm wife there wrote to Ford’s Australian subsidiary and suggested that the company design a vehicle that she could drive to church on Sunday and that her husband could use the next day for farm work.

Ford took the request to heart, and the ute – short for “utility” vehicle – was born.

Don’t mistake this concept for what we call a sport utility vehicle. In Australia, these rides have beds made for at least limited hauling.

The Australian travel promo board at one time had a slogan that went something like this:

“Things evolved differently here.”

The ute is a case in point.

And it remains very much engrained in the nation’s culture.

Vauxhall HSV R8 Maloo

Which brings me to an Aussie ute that I can see Americans latching onto should General Motors ever decide to bring to our shores. It’s the Vauxhall HSV R8 Maloo, manufactured by the company’s Australian subsidiary, Holden.

Maloo is the Australian aboriginal word for thunder, which the pickup seems to exude with its GM LS3 V8 and a limited speed of 155 miles per hour. In 2006, a Maloo took the world land speed record for a production pickup truck, hitting 168 miles per hour and beating our the previous record set by a Dodge Ram SR-10.

I saw the most recent Maloo this week on BBC’s Top Gear, and the episode compared the Maloo to its sedan counterpart, the supercharged Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst, which in itself appears to be a nice piece of work. A supercharged V8 has a sound all its own.

Here’s the link to the video.

If Mad Max had driven a pickup, this would have been it.

One Response to Australia – If Mad Max Had Driven A Pickup, This Would Be It

  1. George Kary on April 22, 2012 at 12:53 am

    I love them, I personally have a Pickup or should I say, being in Australia, a Ute, no not the big GM Holden 6.2 but the ford version, Ford Falcon Ute, a modest XL, due to the price of petrol nowadays, I have a more economical straight Gun barrel 4.0L six, which I find with twin cam shaft & 24 valves, pretty much OK in the power department but also size, 2500 Ks to North Queensland, to drop in on my daughter, a bit of open space for long distance driving in the cab, is appreciated, that the Ford Falcon Ute has . . . the front seat comfort of a large Saloon car with all mod cons.
    What a way to drive long ways.

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