Utes are cool. Fact.
But which ute is the coolest? Well, it’s a topic of debate which arose recently at Wheels HQ, so we decided to offer our answer to the question.
Getting in on the action is some of our mates from WhichCar, Motor, and Street Machine.
The rules are simple, no ute is excluded, and only one ute per journalist.
Let the arguments begin!
HSV VZ Maloo
Utes, especially Aussie-built ones with a V8 or turbo-six, capture my attention in a way no other type of machine does. I think it’s the sheer lunacy of combining a passenger car cabin, low centre of gravity and a huge motor with a light rear end and compromised load-lugging ability.
It shouldn’t work and yet an HSV Maloo or an FPV F6 Typhoon are incredibly cool.
But few utes have stuck in my mind like the Mobil-liveried VZ Maloo that Mark Skaife set a world land speed record in back in 2006.
I read about that car in Wheels magazine and it was just so Australian, so ludicrous, and so ambitious, that it has stayed with me ever since.
For the record, Skaife managed a Guinness-approved average speed of 271.44km/h.
Subaru Brumby / BRAT
There are so many V8 utes I could choose, but instead I’ll go for the Subaru Brumby.
I love them for their durability, dependability and continued omnipresence in regional Australia. They are the ultimate underdog ute, doing a muscle man job with a car-based platform. And who can resist a ute that offers an optional T-top roof!
They were even cooler in North America, not least because they were called the BRAT – short for Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter.
US BRATS also had a turbo option and came with a set of rear-facing seats in the tray, at least until 1998 – the seats meant the BRAT could claim a tariff reduction as a passenger car.
Strangely enough, they were never sold new in Subaru’s native Japan.
Dodge Ram SRT-10
For me, the coolness of a ute is directly proportional to how ridiculous it is as a concept. By that measure, there is none as cool or ridiculous as Dodge’s 2004 Ram SRT-10.
Fulfilling its preposterous quota is the fact it pairs a traditional American pick-up body with a petrol-guzzling 8.3-litre naturally-aspirated V10 donated from the Dodge Viper.
Oh yes, this is a V10 ute baby!
Officially the SRT-10 produced 373kW at 5600rpm and 712Nm at 4200Nm, significant figures nowadays, but truly outlandish in the mid-‘00s.
The V10 Viper engine reportedly delivered 90 percent of its earth-shifting torque between 1500-5600rpm, meaning this 2.5-tonne ute could crack 60mph (97km/h) in 4.9 seconds in two-door form. Top Speed? A cool 248km/h.
In total, just over 10,000 Dodge Ram SRT-10s were ever built, and I want to drive one desperately.
Ram, schmam. If you're going to have a ute, make sure it's a ute that can jump 50 metres from sand berm to sand berm in air-conditioned comfort.
This outrageous dream machine is the Jimco Reaper, custom-built by the US company that's synonymous with the sport of off-road racing.
There's a 9.1-litre Dougans Racing Engines-built Chevy engine up front making about 650kw and 950Nm, backed by a GM-sourced four-speed auto. It's mounted in Jimco's Victory cromoly frame and draped in Ford F-150 bodywork that's made of fibreglass.
There's 800mm of wheel travel at each corner thanks to Fox Racing bypass shocks and custom springs, six-piston Brembos, and those tyres are 40 inches in diameter if you don't mind.
Inside, there's air-conditioning and cruise control, and the fixed buckets are swathed in quilted leather. The spare is bolted in the tray, and if you wiggle it around a bit, you could fit a mountain bike and an esky in there. Is it road-legal? Yep, says Jimco - well, in Arizona anyway. Price tag? Call it $500,000 and you'd be close.
HSV GTSR W1 Maloo
Having owned manual Holden utes since my P plates and now piloting a 6.0-litre VZ SS ute as a daily driver, my choice for this list was easy.
While most would think the LSA-powered Gen-F GTSR Maloo was the last and best of the breed, Walkinshaw opted to take it even further and created the GTSR W1 Maloo.
Only four examples were built for members of HSV’s inner sanctum, as a business case to do a full production run didn’t stack up.
The W1 badge meant these lucky Maloos were stuffed with the same dry-sumped 474kW/815Nm 6.2-litre supercharged LS9 V8, with a delicious six-speed TR6060 manual gearbox teamed with monster brakes and wheels.
It’s the most powerful, the last and the rarest road-legal Holden ute in the world, and I’d give my left bollock to have one.
SB Motorsport’s Nissan Navara R
I'm going completely off-piste with this one given that my first two production ute selections have already been snaffled.
SB Motorsport in the UK is in the process of building a 730kW Nissan Navara utilising the engine and suspension components of a Nissan R35 GT-R.
Yes, there is an element of Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park about it in that maybe SB Motorsports were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should, but the thing is just so flat-out crazy that it's hard not to raise a smile.
It gets my vote, in any case!
HSV GTSR Maloo
Personally, this was a very easy decision as it was the first taste of V8 ute I ever had, and on a rainy weekend of all times.
It's also one of the only cars I've ever driven in which people have called out to me (in admiration, a nice change) from the footpath or their own cars.
Sounds angry, looks tough, and as Scott Newman proved, is heckin' quick.
Take the 2002 Proton Persona, remove the roof aft of the b-pillar, add none of the power nor Lotus-tuned suspension of the Satria GTi, and what are you left with? The underpowered, undersized, downright deadly but actually rather charming Jumbuck.
Not my first pick, but Simon Telford apparently got in with the Brumby before I did and it seems there is no special dispensation offered for actual owners, of which I am one.
Put your money where your mouth is Telf.
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