Tuesday, February 3, 2015

DTO: Australian For El Camino: 2008 Holden Commodore Ute

The Holden Commodore is a full sized sedan built by GM's Australian subsidiary that was (for a precious few years) imported into the USA as the Pontiac G8, and currently as the Chevrolet SS.  The Commodore has always been a rear-wheel-drive monster, but the VE generation (2007-2013) brought new lunacy in the form of an all independent suspension setup and GM's GenIV small block up front -- plus it was available as a Ute.  What's a Ute, you ask?  This is a 2008 Holden Commodore Ute offered for $37,500 buy-it-now here on eBay in Phoenix, Arizona.

I know what you're thinking.  Thirty seven large for this thing?  Sure, you could buy some overpriced American muscle car, an E30 M3, a non numbers matching 911 912 or a basket case VW bus for that kind of coin...and you could probably pickup a Ute down under for half the price. But...this car is located in the USA and has been converted to left hand drive, and is titled as a rebuilt Pontiac G8.  It should be legit to drive around on American streets and is one of a handful around.

Under the hood is 6.0 liter L76 V8 rated at 361 horsepower mated to a 6-speed 6L80 automatic transmission.  Behind the driver's seat is a truck bed capable of hauling junk and light enough that hooning is a given.

The Pontiac G8 and Commodore are almost identical aside from some styling (interior and exterior) differences, so swapping the left hand drive setup into this Ute is simply a matter of time and tools.

See another way to drive a new El Camino? tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. Wow, I would love to see the paperwork on this one. I bet it reads like a Penn and Teller act. Anyway, I applaud anyone who figures out a novel path through bureaucracy.

    As far as the car goes, I like it 'way better than that Chevy SSR from a few years ago. And from his e-bay ad, this grey one looks much better than the completely Pontiac-ized red one.

  2. Oh God, if I only had the money. I don't even care if the number seems comically off.

  3. so you watched last nights top gear LOL....im sure theres a cheaper way to import the ute but of course it would have to stay right hand drive

  4. It breaks my heart to see this car. The situation over there in Oz is desperate with Toyota, GM and Ford jumping ship. That means nearly a quarter of a million jobs lost and something like $30 BILLION ripped out of the economy. Really scary and I feel horrible for all the families over there impacted by the horrible downturn. Victoria could be the next Detroit.

    1. "Victoria could be the next Detroit"

      If you were to say this to any resident of Victoria, they would burst out laughing. To begin with, Victoria is like 90,000 square miles, so it's a little larger than Detroit. Second, car manufacturing has been contracting over 25 odd years, so represents a very small segment of Victoria's economy. Third, cities in Australia are planned with some level of sanity, so it's unlikely we are going to end up with any car centric ghost towns fitted out for 1.5 million people. Sadly, it is actually the town of Geelong that is Detroit, at least in terms of it traditionally being reliant on blue collar industry and having those industries collapse. I mean Geelong has always been a rough place, but it is pretty depressing right now. Plus their footy team aren't as great as they used to be, and their mayor is a fat bloke with a fake tan and a blond mohawke.

    2. That's an interesting insight to what's happening on the ground over there, Lebowski. I appreciate your comments. Isn't Geelong a suburb of Victoria? I looked online and saw that Victoria has a population of roughly 5.8 million people. I also read that the state has the highest unemployment rate in all of Oz. Surely a loss of all those automotive jobs will impact that further.

      One of my friends lives in Werribee and he's not too happy with what's going on, to say the least. I know next to nothing about politics and am quite happy to remain so. But I am interested in the automotive world and this is a crushing blow on a lot of levels (the Zeta platform is just one), in my opinion. I understand that the situations are more different than alike, but on the surface there seems to be a similarity between what happened during our government carmaker bail-out and yours. Your government is choosing to allow those jobs to disappear, while ours didn't. I have NO IDEA if one is better than the other - so settle down people! - but I know I and a lot of others in this country wondered what would happen if our admin had just let our carmakers go belly up. Now we get to see what happens, albeit in a smaller way, by watching your country and what it does to your economy, which isn't in the greatest shape at the moment as it is.

      What can't be calculated by the loss of all those jobs are the jobs that are affected by them disappearing. The food industry, real estate, etc. They will be hit just as hard. So the predicted (roughly) quarter of a million jobs is not really an accurate number. It will be a multiplication of that figure.

      Can your country/state/city/'burb survive all of that? Who knows. Only time will tell. I hope so. Crushing poverty caused by economic upheaval and unemployment is awful.

    3. Speaking of Detroit, I recently saw the movies "Searching For Sugar Man", "Detropia" and "Only Lovers Left Alive". All were good, especially the first one. Anybody else see them?


    4. The GM Holden plant is in Elizabeth, South Australia, a long way from Victoria although they do have other offices in Victoria.

      Ford is in Broadmeadows, out on the western edge of Melbourne.

      Australia's a small market with high labor costs and it has had an auto industry largely due to many years of protectionist policies and various forms of government support, which has gradually been unwound over the past couple decades.

      I'm ambiivalent on this - I believe in free trade as a basis for an industrial policy, not as a policy in itself. You could argue that Australian protectionism permitted development of a significant industrial and supplier base the country wouldn't otherwise have had; you can also argue that it resulted in more expensive, and at times lower quality, product than the country might have had otherwise.

      In the end, at the time the decisions to shut down were taken, you had a perfect storm of conditions: a stagnant auto market worldwide, weak foreign parent companies, truculent unions, a strong AUD making exports uncompetitive, very high oil prices putting the large, relatively thirsty homegrown product at a market disadvantage, and a government believing that the relatively healthy Australian economy of the time could better handle the short-term disruption than ongoing propping-up.

      Many of those conditions have changed somewhat now - auto sales are up, Ford is no longer borrowing against their factories and inventories and GM is no longer being funded by the US taxpayer (at least not directly), fuel prices are down, the Australian economy is not quite so healthy, and the Australian dollar is not quite so strong. But the direction's been set and it's unlikely anyone's going to walk it back, especially Ford who seems intent on One Ford.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Oh, and two further comments:

      Toyota has been up in NSW. Mitsubishi was also building in Australia for a while but shut down a few years ago.

      The Australian government at the time the shutdown decision was taken was a weak Labor government dependent on a nasty bunch of Greens for a majority, so while they may have been prepared to subsidize auto-industry jobs they were also pursuing carbon taxation and other policies that'd eventually make production untenable anyway.

      The current Liberal government is neither philosophically willing nor fiscally able (in part from having been left in a hole by its predecessor's spending) to subsidize auto-industry jobs but has at least ditched the carbon tax and isn't under the Green thumb.

    7. That's a rather disturbing attitude. I'd hazard a guess that the folks that are soon to be unemployed are not ambivalent about losing their jobs.

    8. No question. On the other hand, if you can't sell the cars you make there, and the cost of production is so high that you can't build anything else there profitably either, and you can't get the government (taxpayers) to subsidize the jobs as they have periodically in the recent past, then you really don't have an industry after all, you have no choice.

      I haven't been following the market there too closely of late, my guess is that the Commodores and Falcons are probably selling better now with gas prices falling, but the decision was taken in the face of $120 oil when those cars were just not moving.

      The Commodore and the Falcon are by any reasonable measure the best American cars ever built, they're what the US industry might have evolved to in the '80s and '90s had there been no CAFE (and had it been headquartered in Atlanta or Dallas or LA instead of snowy Detroit, where FWD became a lunatic obsession.)

      I hate to see them go, I'd certainly buy a Chevy SS in preference to any recent BMW I can think of, and may still do so.

    9. You wouldn't happen to be a lawyer or politician would you mrkwong? Because you can spin words like one! The mechanics of the situation over there is one thing, but I'm talking about the devastation to the thousands and thousands of people that will lose their jobs. Maybe I'm a bit sensitive about the subject, having been broke, unemployed and homeless a couple of times in my life, but I feel nothing but empathy for those folks. Insinuating they chose to become unemployed when clearly they'd rather not be is heartless in the extreme, it seems to me. I understand you're looking at it from an outsider, discompassionate viewpoint, but empathy costs nothing.

  5. I wish I was a pro mountain biker with two carbon race bikes mounted in the bed of this. Just a wish.


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