Aussie Muscle In The US: 2011 Holden HSV Maloo R8

Hindsight. It’s 20:20 vision. As I write this article, it strikes me that it is almost exactly four years to the day since the last passenger car rolled off an Australian production line. On October 20th, 2017, the Holden plant in Elizabeth, South Australia, played host to a historical event as the world watched the final Commodore emerge from their facility. The company switched its focus to imports, but today, the Holden brand has been consigned to the pages of history. However, its spirit lives on in the form of vehicles like this 2011 HSV Maloo R8. This slice of Australian automotive muscle is a shining example of what Holden and HSV could produce in their unique partnership. It has also traveled a long way from its ancestral home and is now located in San Diego, California. It has received a few minor changes to make it feel more user-friendly, but they haven’t destroyed its spirit. The owner has decided that it needs a new home, so they have listed it for sale here on eBay. You could park it in your driveway for $87,500, but the owner will entertain offers.

The factors that led to the demise of the Holden brand are complex enough to fill a book, and several writers have already penned such books. At the height of its power, vehicles were rolling off their production line for sale in New Zealand, South Africa, and regions of the Middle East. At the turn of this century, General Motors decided that Holden should dip its toe into the American market. Some questionable decisions meant that the chosen vehicles faced an uphill battle to achieve market success. The decision to release the Monaro in 2004 carrying the Pontiac GTO badge was undoubtedly a bad one. There’s no disputing that it was a great car, but it was also one that lacked the hard edge that the GTO badge deserved. It was a large coupe that could seat four adults in comfort, and it had power to burn. With almost any other badge, its success would’ve been a near certainty. The same is true of  General Motors’ decision to market the Commodore SS in the US as the Chevrolet SS. The buying public saw the “SS” badge as a derivative or options package on an existing platform. Everyone remembers the Camaro SS, the Nova SS, and the Impala SS. The Australian SS was a badge without a model, and when combined with the lack of an effective marketing campaign, it was doomed to fail. That brings us to the Maloo R8. The coupe utility, or “ute” if you happen to be from Down Under, was a uniquely Australian invention. However, it found wide acceptance in other markets, with the Ford Ranchero and the Chevrolet El Camino two of the most obvious examples. We know that our readers love their pickups, so you would have to wonder how a vehicle like our feature car would have fared if it had hit the American market. I mean, what’s not to love? It offers the versatility of a light pickup with the brute strength and performance of a genuine muscle car. That is what the new owner of this Maloo will find when they slide behind the wheel. They will also become the proud owner of a car that is in excellent condition. It is finished in a shade called Poison Ivy Green, which holds a beautiful shine. There are no apparent flaws or marks, while the panels are laser straight and devoid of any rust issues. Adding to its muscular appearance is a range of aerodynamic additions that are in as-new condition. These include an extended front bumper/spoiler, a rear defuser, and side skirts. There are also more scoops and gills than you can poke a stick at, and many of them are more than just cosmetic. They provide effective cooling for the enormous brakes and help reduce aerodynamic lift at higher speeds. Rounding out the package are powder-coated 19″ alloy wheels. There’s no doubt that this ute would turn heads wherever it goes.

In Australia, buyers could order a basic Commodore ute with a V6 under the hood. But who can’t use more power? Vehicles like the Maloo represented history traveling a full circle for Holden. Its first V8 offerings in the late 1960s had included V8 engines imported from its parent company in the US. Holden went through a process of developing its unique V8 as that decade drew to a close, and it saw service in both road cars and motorsport with great success for several decades. When our Maloo rolled off the line, its engine bay was occupied by the legendary Chevrolet 6.2-liter LS3 V8. This brute pumps out 415hp and 406 ft/lbs of torque, which finds its way to the limited-slip rear end via a six-speed manual transmission. The Maloo tips the scales at around 3,700lbs, but all of that power makes this a contender to be classed as a genuine muscle car. Pointed at a ¼ mile, it can demolish that journey in 13.2 seconds. Keep the pedal to the metal, and the electronic limiter will kick in as the needle hits 155mph. That makes it a seriously fast classic, but HSV created the Maloo as a complete package. As well as power steering, the brakes are four-wheel slotted, ventilated, and cross-drilled discs with ABS. The fronts are 14⅓ inches, while the rears are a mere 13¾ inches. The company also paid close attention to the suspension, and after dropping the ride height, they added upgraded springs, shocks, and sway bars. So, that means that this classic should go, stop, and handle pretty effectively. The owner doesn’t provide any specific information on how well the vehicle runs or drives, but he does indicate that it has a genuine 72,800 miles on the clock. Given the history of these vehicles, that represents barely more than break-in mileage and suggests that it has plenty of life left to offer its next owner.

When I first looked at the supplied photos, I thought I was seeing some form of an optical illusion or a flipped image. This is a genuine Australian Maloo, but the importer has gone to the effort and expense of converting it to a more practical left-hand-drive configuration. For our readers who have previously said that they like vehicles of this type but couldn’t handle a right-hand-drive configuration, that’s one excuse you can’t use for not buying this beast. The conversion would not have been that difficult because most of the required hardware is the same as Holden used on the Chevrolet SS, so accessing parts would not be difficult. If you crave your touches of comfort, the Maloo doesn’t let you down. It rolled out of the factory with a vast collection of airbags, climate-control air conditioning, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, power mirrors, a power driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-reach wheel, a trip computer, traction control, sat/nav, and a six-disc premium stereo system with no less than seven speakers. Feel like hosting an AC/DC concert? Well, here’s your venue! The seats are upholstered in Black Alcantara and leather, and they appear to be perfect. There’s none of the wear on the outer edges that you might expect on heavily contoured buckets. The remaining upholstered surfaces are spotless, as are the dash and carpet. I hesitate to use the term “showroom condition,” but it doesn’t miss that mark by much. All the buyer needs to do is slip behind the wheel, adjust everything to get themselves comfortable, and then hit the road for some rapid motoring.

When we reflect upon the end of the Australian car manufacturing industry, and if we focus on Holden, in particular, there was probably nothing that was going to prevent its demise. Holden had spent its time and money developing and marketing large family sedans and vehicles like the Maloo in an era when the buying public was primarily focusing on SUVs, people carriers, and larger pickups. However, you have to wonder whether the story might have been different if the company had successfully tapped into the significantly larger American market with the Maloo. Had they chosen that path, along with more effective names and marketing campaigns for their Monaro and Commodore SS, we might not now be talking about the brand in the past tense. Sadly, that’s a question that we will never be able to answer. However, you could now secure your slice of the action with this Maloo R8. Are you tempted?


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  1. Motorcityman Member

    I like it…….but not for anywhere near 87K.

    Like 19
  2. Terrry

    Wouldn’t that have made a killer El Camino? But in typical GM fashion, it was never considered.

    Like 15
  3. swm

    A Colorado company does these

    Like 9
  4. OddBallCars Member

    I never understood why GM didn’t rebadge a Holden Ute V6 as an El Camino, and this example here could have been the El Camino SS (Adam is spot-on about the Chevrolet SS confusing the public). Who knows why auto manufacturers do these things… Ford is releasing the Maverick (cool idea) as a ute (dumb idea). Why didn’t they tap into their heritage and call it the Ranchero… or put the Maverick badge on a small sedan… or heck, even the baby Bronco Sport, which confuses THAT brand. But don’t get me going on the failure of the launch of the new Bronco…

    When I am king, the world will be run very differently!!!

    Like 20
    • 370zpp 370zpp Member

      Why did they “improve” Coke Zero?

      Like 3
      • Don Eladio

        Coke Zero sucks…it has, literally, half of the caffeine content that Pepsi Zero Sugar has. They used to call it “Pepsi Max” until the Ralph Nader or Tipper Gore of soda decided that was too racy. Check out Pepsi Zero Sugar…it’ll be the one that’s always sold out at your local grocer.

        Like 1
    • chuck dickinson

      The reason we never got this was GM’s decision to cancel Pontiac. Otherwise, you would’ve been able to buy this at a Pontiac dealer. It was already approved and ready to go when GM went into free-fall after the financial melt-down and sold off/dropped several makes world-wide, including Pontiac, Opel and Saab.

      Like 2
      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        If some nameplate had to be cut, I’d have much rather seen Buick go than Pontiac. But I don’t get to make decisions like that, and am not privy to the financial ledgers.

        Like 2
  5. CCFisher

    First questions I would ask the seller: How was it imported, and what documentation do you have to show that US customs won’t seize it and send it back down under? Importing a vehicle less than 25 years old is not a simple affair, and the eBay ad gives no indication as to how it was done.

    Like 15
    • Dave

      As stated above, Left Hand Utes legally imports these and converts them to US standards. They only do this particular model because GM had them crash tested and approved for sale in the US. They were too be sold as a Pontiac, but GM decided against it. LHU does the modifications that GM had already had approved.

      Like 5
  6. Marko

    GM missed the boat by not bringing this Ute to North America.

    Even if it did not sell in numbers large enough to make a profit, it would have promoted Brand Image and helped the entire line of vehicles.

    Like 9
  7. angliagt angliagt Member

    Why do the Aussies have such ugly-looking cars?
    The back end isn’t too bad,but the front is just plain ugly.
    Looks like they tried copying that UGLY Audi front end.

    Like 5
    • Murray

      A Yank telling us Aussies we have ugly cars?! Thats the funniest most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard…. Mate have a look around yourself! You kill me ha ha ha….

      Like 3
  8. Tad Imbrie

    You didn’t mention the Pontiac G8 version that succeeded the GTO and preceded the Chevy SS.

    Like 4
    • Thomas A Childers

      Or no mention of the Chevrolet Caprice PPV (Police Patrol Vehicle) which preceded the Chevrolet SS.

      Like 1
      • jwaltb

        Or no mention of the Tri Fives which preceded all of these…

      • ten50boy

        After driving those late model Caprice vehicles as a “rolling office” that needs to expedite between meetings on a daily basis, I learned one thing….. they do not hold up well. By 40,000 miles, they were ready for auction. Send them off to a taxi cab company at a financial loss and let them deal with the headaches. All those cars did was make an entire generation of Law Enforcement pray for a true Crown Vic or LT1 Caprice replacement. Thank God for trucks and SUV’s……. There isn’t many reliable/capable sedans left.

  9. Frank Sumatra

    For $87,000 USD I could do a 13.2 1/4 mile and top out at 155 mph (Or higher) in a much better looking vehicle that could possibly be re-sold if things went south economically. I would not have the nerve to buy and live with this one-off. If Americans could not understand the SS, good luck finding anyone interested in this.

    Like 1
  10. NHDave

    Another element that created head winds for success with the GTO, G8, the SS, and any vehicle imported into the US from Australia was the prevailing currency exchange rate. The SS (and G8 before it) was a fantastic car that deserved better visibility/marketing, and a price $6000-$8000 lower. The exchange rate made the price point a competitive challenge while providing no significant profit for GM.

    Like 3
    • Frank Sumatra

      Great point. I would love to have a collection of the amazing cars GM made and then gave up on and/or failed to price/market properly. I would start with the SS, then add a CTS-V wagon, XLR-V, and G8. Next on the list of “Great, Gone, But Not Forgotten” will be the Cadillac Blackwing CT5-V and CT4-V.

      Like 5
  11. Grant

    Unique, no doubt, but for that money, I’ll take a real American muscle car to drive and have fun without worrying about any parts I may need.

  12. Motorcityman Member

    Most people drink soda for the flavor Not for the caffeine.
    When I want caffeine I drink coffee.
    I like the taste of Coke Zero…..I think they made it to steal some Pepsi drinkers, its sweeter like Pepsi.
    Diet Coke isn’t as sweet tasting.

  13. 19sixty5 Member

    I think I’ll just keep my 70 El Camino SS. Interesting car, but not a fan of it’s appearance.

    Like 4
  14. ed casala

    I think a bigger selling point would be to have the steering wheel on the correct side like a Fair Lady Z has. Cool car and I like it, but not at 87K. Didn’t Holden make a super charged model of this? That would be an 87K car. This one, not so much.

    Like 2
  15. Howie Mueler

    Yes very cool, but not at that price. Motor cars LA in San Diego?

    Like 1
  16. Frank

    Exactly I was thinking the same. Years ago Ihad a Dutch friend who imported German cars. He got me a Porsche 911 Turbo I had to play go thru the lights, door braces, and bumper BS.

  17. Frank

    Comes with a KeKe, the baby kangaroo too!

  18. James Patrick Johnson

    I miss my 06 GTO rocket ship it was one of the baddest production cars I have ever driven hi 12 0 is 60 and 4 seconds and still giving me 25 miles to the gallon on a good day on a bad day still 21 to 22 MPG it only cost thirty two new

    • Motorcityman Member

      So buy a used GTO.
      Lots out there.
      Not real expensive like a G8 still is.

  19. Joe Btfsplk

    Cletus McFarland is taking Elco’s to the limit with his street driver/race car MULLET. Elco’s, Utes, whatever you call them, are just plain cool.

  20. Sidedraught

    I think the reason for the high asking price is the high prices these type of vehicles are asking in their home market. Prices for all the Holden models have been going up with the performance models leading the charge. Back in January a rare HSV Maloo ute sold for just over one million Aussie dollars.

    Like 2
  21. GeorgeL

    I love it, but not sure I’d give $87.5k for it. I have a standard 2012 Holden Ute SS Thunder that was done by Left Hand Utes. I’m the 4th owner since the conversion and it has a valid title. I’m not concerned that it would be seized as the importation process for their conversions manages to get around the 25 year rule. The biggest hassle was finding insurance, because the VIN isn’t in anybody’s data base. I ended up going with a company that specializes in kit cars.

    I saw this car in person years ago at the SEMA Show. I believe it sold at Mecum for $55k back in 2015.

    Like 3
  22. Tom

    I looked at the car it’s pretty rough maybe 13500

  23. Motorcityman Member

    GM killed Pontiac instead of Buick because GM sells 70% of their vehicles in China and Buick is the #1 Imported vehicle brand there. No way they were going to lose millions of Chinese sales.
    Pontiac outsold Buick in the USA but didn’t matter, sales weren’t that huge.

    Like 1
  24. Phipps

    Those are cool but not for 87 grand….
    Is like a modern El Camino and be cool to have!

  25. Motorcityman Member

    HEY 1050BOY…….What years u talking about falling apart after 40,000 miles?
    I’m getting ready to pull the trigger on a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix, Base model that has only 88,000 miles owned by this guys Mother……car is in Very good condition for $3,500

    • Ten50boy

      Ours were varying from 11-15. Nice when they were new, but didn’t fare well under the stress of “spirited driving”… They honestly did not take constant use well, like the older LT1 cars and our Vics. Those cars were “tanks” and virtually never faltered. No exaggeration, our mechanics all loathed these late models. We have a few clean examples left as spare cars, but literally no one wants to drive them. Our SUV’s get constant use and our Taurus AWD cars….. they are loved for their capability, hated for interior space. But hey, when you spend 12+ hours in a vehicle on a regular basis….. you’ll find faults……I had several earlier PPV Impalas, they had faults too, but didn’t seem to have as many issues as the later models.

      I’ve owned numerous GM cars for personal use. Solid drivers for daily use. You shouldn’t be that concerned for regular driving with that Pontiac. Take care of it and it will do the same. Drive it sanely and follow the recommended maintenance schedule.

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