Left Hand Utes HSV Maloo, 2014 SEMA show (Image via Carsguide)Enlarge Photo
General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] came close to importing the Holden Commodore Ute (short for utility) as a Pontiac G8 Sport Truck late last decade but was hampered by CAFE regulations and its own bankruptcy. That doesn’t mean all is lost as a number of smaller firms are independently importing the vehicles here, one of which is Left Hand Utes of Denver, Colorado.
As its name suggests, Left Hand Utes not only imports the vehicles but converts them to left-hand drive. And the best part is that Left Hand Utes can import the complete range of Holden Commodore Utes on offer Down Under, from the barebones work horses to high-performance HSV variants like the Maloo.
Left Hand Utes took two Maloos to this week’s SEMA show in Las Vegas—a previous-generation VE (pictured above) and the latest VF which shares its styling with the Holden Commodore-based Chevrolet SS—where they were able to speak with Carsguide.
"General Motors is crazy," said Left Hand Utes co-founder John Ehrlich. "The work was done to make these into left-hand-drive, we can't understand why they didn't bring them in as Chevrolets—they missed a massive opportunity here."
Left Hand Utes has been up and running for the past 18 months and so far has delivered 16 Utes to customers. The conversion requires the cars, which are usually second hand, to be stripped of their right-hand-drive components and then replaced using OEM parts designed for Pontiac's GTO and G8 as well as Chevy's Caprice PPV and SS, depending on which Ute is being converted.
Currently up for sale is a 2003 Commodore SS Ute powered by a 5.7-liter V-8 and available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, which is priced from $30,000. The Maloo pictured above is a 2010 model and is priced from $85,000. It features a 425-horsepower 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 paired with a six-speed manual transmission, and will sprint to 60 mph from rest in around 5.0 seconds.
For more from the 2014 SEMA show, head to our dedicated hub.