You’ve got to admit it, no one does fun commercial vehicles quite like the Aussies. While we’re stuck with big vans, small vans and everything-in-between vans that are all broadly humdrum, tradespeople in Australia have a bunch of utes (that’s utility vehicles) at their disposal. Granted, the vans we have here are considerably more practical, cheaper to run and own, but what makes the Aussie ute that bit more special is that, if you find one with a big V8, it’ll brighten up even the most monotonous of chores.
For some reason, carmakers of the world decided Britain wasn’t a prime location for pick-up trucks with gas-gurgling, eight-cylinder blocks up front. Granted, we did get the Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo for a brief period in the early 2010s, though a quick Google search suggests these sold in incredibly low numbers. And that’s probably why tradespeople and handy folk don’t have many exciting options to choose from when it comes to workhorses.
Well, the good news is there’s one hell of a mighty ute in the PH classifieds: the HSV Maloo R8. HSV (that's Holden Special Vehicles) has been giving Holden’s humble Commodore-based Ute pick-up truck the big V8 treatment for decades, with each model carrying the Maloo (meaning thunder in one of the hundreds of Aboriginal dialects) name as a nod to what’s under the hood. And, in the car we have here, it’s a 6.2-litre LS3 V8 developing 431hp, which is transferred to the rear axle through a six-speed manual gearbox. And, if your friends don’t believe you, there’s a plaque with a power and torque curve slapped onto the engine cover.
But it’s not all about power. HSV does actually do a bit of work on the chassis side, such as a reworked suspension and differential, to stop you from doing donuts every time you glance at the throttle. You may also notice the Walkinshaw name dotted around the car. It’s essentially the Australian arm of Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR), which used to build Holden’s Commodore racer for the V8 Supercars and now operates as a performance firm. Upgrades made to the Maloo (don’t worry, they’re factory fitted) include a Walkinshaw Performance intake manifold, new headers and a beefier exhaust system.
It's not exactly understated, either. Most of the visual upgrades are from the HSV Commodore of the era, such as the nostrils on the bonnet, the split side vent integrated into its front wheelarches and the rather lovely set 20-inch alloy wheels, which, on the car we have here, have recently been refurbished. Inside is the usual cheap-yet-enduring cabin we’ve come to expect from General Motors performance cars. You do, however, get the Maloo name embroidered onto the back of the seats, which admittedly looks incredibly cool. And, besides, who cares about interior quality when you’ve got a massive boot and equally massive motor up front?
You know what’s also quite big? The price. This one’s up for sale at £49,995, which might be a tough pill to swallow – especially when you glance at the 106,000 miles showing on the odometer. But, even though we got the Maloo in VXR8 form in the UK, they very rarely come up for sale, probably because their owners are having way too much fun to even think about selling. Are you paying a premium for the HSV and Holden badges? Possibly, but one thing’s for sure: you’ll never have another dull day at work. Well, at least not the journey to and from work, which in one of these, ought to be a riot.
SPECIFICATION | HSV MALOO R8
Engine: 6,162cc V8
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 431 @ 6,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 406 @ 4,800-5,600rpm
Year registered: 2010
Recorded mileage: 106,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £49,995
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