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Americans are stealing our utes… and we're okay with it

By Chris Thompson, 31 Oct 2020 Car News

Left Hand Utes Aussie pickups America

A company in the US is turning our performance utes into left-hook ‘pickups’

Australia gave the world the ute, and there was much rejoicing.

Then, for decades, Australia continued building the ute, but some countries stopped after a little while. America, for example, had the El Camino through the 1960s, ’70, and ‘80s.

But Americans didn’t stop loving the ute, and a company in Denver, Colorado called Left Hand Utes is helping to sate ‘Murican hunger for quick car-based… ‘pickups’.

We’ll keep calling them utes, thank you very much.

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Left Hand Utes Maloo

"American auto enthusiasts have long cried out for the return of the Chevrolet El Camino,” the Left Hand Utes website proclaims.

“The half-car, half-truck model departed from America in 1987, but it still thrived in The Land Down Under (where it was started), referred to by Australians as utes.”

We’re actually vaguely familiar with the company, back in 2017 YouTuber Doug DeMuro highlighted a VE Commodore Ute converted by Left Hand Utes.

Since, we’ve come across a GTSR Maloo from HSV, which Left Hand Utes boss Randy Reese told us about while letting us in on his process.

Left hand utes Maloo R8 Tennessee

“What we’ve been doing is have customers buy them in Australia with their own money,” he said, “then they take what they want, and then we set up shipping. All I’m doing is the conversions.

“It’s the same frame rails [as the Chevrolet Caprice] that go underneath, same driveshaft, same fuel line, same brake line,” he adds.

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“I don’t paint, I don’t cut frames, I don’t change VIN numbers, the only thing I do change is where the bits coming through the fire-wall.

“And it’s just a 16-gauge piece of stamped steel that I get from the US donor car, and I weld it in there.

“I do not add VINs to them, I use a 17-digit GM VIN.”

Left Hand Utes Ford Falcon USA

HSV (now GMSV) even helps Reese out with parts like tags and information he requires for himself or customers.

It’s not just GM brands Reese works on, though. A few Ford Falcons and their FPV variants have made their way through his workshop.

While it feels strange to celebrate one of our national motoring icons making its way overseas and therefore leaving Aussie shores likely forever, it’s not like we have a shortage of the things here, and Reese only converts a couple a year.

Can we deal with a few utes lost if it means our US pals get to enjoy and appreciate our creation? Absolutely.