This is a Holden Maloo, and its native habitat is Surfer’s Paradise on Australia’s Gold Coast.
You’ll also find Maloos in other Australian surfing hot spots, at motocross meetings and anywhere else where being 10 degrees cooler than the next man is more important than life itself. As you can see, the Maloo is a pick-up truck, or what the Aussie’s call a ute – as in utility. And the ute is as deeply embedded in Australian culture as Ned Kelly, Victoria Bitter and giving the poms a whacking at sport.
Most utes spend their time lugging building materials or carrying out important tasks such as transporting the weekend’s supply of tinnies back from the bottle shop. The Maloo R8 can do all these useful chores but at 160mph, for under its bonnet sits the same Chevrolet LS2 motor that’s fitted to the soon-to-die Monaro VXR and to the Chevrolet Corvette.
It’s odd that the Aussies use such a dispassionate unit as kilowatts when any nation with petrol in its veins (of which Australia is one of the foremost) knows that kilowatts is for electricity meters and horsepower is for engines. On Holden’s HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) website, you’ll learn that the Maloo R8’s small block has 297kw – or, to us, a hoof short of 400bhp.
Vauxhall’s VXR brand manager had this Maloo shipped up from Under to officially use as a marketing ‘tool’ but more likely because he rather fancied the idea of carting his supermoto racing motorcycle around in the back of it. This explains why the Maloo is covered in garish branding and why Vauxhall badges live where Holden badges once did.
There’s not even a badge to tell you that it’s a Maloo. In Australia, a Maloo R8 the same as this one costs about £26,000. Import one and you’ll have to add to that duty and VAT (which you could claim back if you’re a business) and, of course, shipping costs.
Before you ask, Vauxhall will never import the Maloo, or any of its less muscular brothers because apparently Holden’s utes have very little underseal or corrosion protection. That shouldn’t put you or me off personally importing one, however, because unless they’re built using metal from recycled Fiat Stradas keeping one in good shape should require little more than religious jet washing and a coating of Waxoyle once in a while.
Mechanically, the Maloo is almost identical to the HSV version of the Commodore and the Monaro. It’s built on the Commodore estate’s chassis, but uses all the good stuff from the hot Holdens. Unlike its rival from Ford, the wonderfully named Super Pursuit, the Maloo has independent rear suspension. It’s a six-speeder and the brakes are the same red-painted four-pot calipers from the Monaro VXR.Inside, the cabin is exactly the same as the Monaro’s. Same layout with the same quality. Unlike muscle pick-ups such as America’s Ford Lightning and Dodge Ram SRT10, the Maloo doesn’t feel at all outsized for our streets. Being right-hand-drive is a huge help, of course.
In particular, a huge help when you’ve just laid 50 yards of rubber onto the carriageway. Yes, younger readers, you’ll be relieved to hear that even when one is grown up with a family and a mortgage, smoking the rears through third gear is just as funny as it was when a teenager. And lighting up the back tyres in this thing is very easy indeed, even if smoking in public places is now a political hot potato.