Should Chevy Build the Australian Commodore Ute In The U.S.?

Australia’s Holden Commodore Ute. Photo from www.holden.com

Holden, a subsidiary of General Motors is an Australian car company that has been building some of the neatest musclecars during the past twenty years. Because of their willingness to push the edge of power, and combined with some of the coolest foundries in the world, GM continually looks to the car builder for models that they can bring to the world market. Often the question becomes, what Holden vehicle can be built for the U.S. market?

Holden’s utility coupes range back to the 1930s. This 1951 Ute is a prime example of the late 1940s and 1950s Utes. Photo from richardlewis.org

A few of the Holden models have done well when exported, as evidenced by the VF Commodore’s transport to the U.S. as the Chevrolet SS sedan. One of the most prominent vehicles to resurface annually as a potential for the U.S. market is the very popular Holden Ute, which always brings up the question: Should Chevy build the Australian Commodore Ute in the U.S.?

History

As for manufacturing a new utility vehicle based on the Commodore Ute, we are going to say no, but not for the reasons that you think. The Ute has a long history in Australia, reaching back to 1934 when Ford built the first “Coupe Ute” at their Victoria plant in Melbourne. Holden entered the utility market in 1951 with their production of the FX. Holden continued to make the Ute throughout the 50s with the FJ model.

Another example of the Holden EJ Ute from 1962. Photo from richardlewis.org

Meanwhile in the U.S., Ford got the jump on Chevrolet again when the Ranchero was released in 1957. As a response, Chevy began producing the El Camino in 1959 for a limited two-year production run, ending with the 1960 model year.

When the Chevelle was released in 1964, the El Camino was reintroduced to the marketplace on that new platform. The nameplate continued on that platform through the 1977 model year, before switching to the G-body platform in 1978.

1969 Chevrolet El Camino SS. Photo from wikipedia.org

The El Camino was manufactured until 1987, when it was quietly discontinued, with no explanation. The Holden Commodore Ute however, continued to soldier away down under, leaving the American utility fans to dream “what if.”

Rumors

Like all things that have ceased while popularity was still at a high, annual rumors of a new El Camino continue to surface, hoping that GM actually begins design work on a new utility vehicle. In 2008, the Pontiac G8 ST was shown at the New York International Auto Show, and while based on the Holden Ute, it was actually built on the Holden G8 platform.

Plans to manufacture the new G8 ST were set in place for a release as a 2010 model, which would have been GM’s first utility coupe in the U.S. since the El Camino stopped production in 1987. The automotive press cheered and rallied support for the new Ute, when GM unexpectedly announced to their dealers that the G8 ST was cancelled due to budget cuts and restructuring.

The 2010 Pontiac G8 Sport Truck at the New York International Auto Show. Photo from wikipedia.org

Granted, the market collapse and subsequent economic problems in the U.S. put pressure on GM to minimize their product lines. However, the company floated rumors in 2011 that the El Camino could return to the Chevrolet product lineup as early as 2015.

Given that GM has planned on bringing back the El Camino nameplate as a utility coupe, manufacturing the Holden VF Ute in the U.S. would kill off the utility market with substandard sales. The El Camino’s name recognition should still count for thousands of sales that the Holden Ute would miss.

The only Chevy utility coupe in the U.S. should have the El Camino name tag and built on existing General Motors’ platforms in our opinion. wikipedia.org

In sheer economic terms, we believe that anything less than a new El Camino based on an existing Chevrolet platform would be a disaster, leading to a short production run and eventual discontinuing of the model. Our answer to the question of building the Holden Ute on American soil is a resounding “no.”

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
Read My Articles

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