This past weekend I attended an El Camino event in North Andover, Massachusetts. It was sponsored by the National El Camino Owners Association and open to anyone with an El Camino or its GMC cousin the Caballero. It was held at Jimmy’s Pizza Bar on Rt. 125. I don’t know what their pizza is like but the breakfast we had there was huge and delicious.
El Caminos are unusual. They are a combination of a car and a pickup truck (a trar). General Motors built El Caminos and the Caballeros here in the USA off and on from 1959 to 1987.
GM’s Australian subsiderary Holden has been building El Camino style vehicles since the early 1960’s and continues to build them today as a Ute model. Ute being an abbreviated term for ‘utility’. Holden builds really cool cars and GM USA has built the latest renditions of Pontiac’s GTO, G8, and Chevy’s SS on the Holden platform. The new Holden Utes are available with either a V6 in two basic models or an LS3 V8 in their version of an SS. All models are rear wheel drive.
A few years ago some of the automotive magazines speculated that the Holden Ute was going to be the next rendition of Chevy’s El Camino, but it never happened. So the Holden remains in Australia and is not allowed to be brought over here because it does not meet Federal DOT motor vehicle regulations. The most obvious difference between it and an American version would be the steering position, the Ute’s steering column is on the right. There may also be differences in the lighting and emissions systems between the Holden and a theoretical American version.
So it was surprising to see a custom example of a Holden Ute at the gathering at Jimmy’s Pizza Bar. According to the owner, he had the Holden shipped from Australia dismantled and got it through customs without issue. The car was then sent to a friends shop where the nose, running gear, and interior from a late model GTO was grafted onto and into the Ute creating a Pontiac version of an El Camino. The parts swap was very professional and the car looked great.
I noticed there was a Massachusetts plate on the car. I wonder how long it took him to get it registered through the DMV? I’m sure that’s another story.