Two years after the equivalent sedan and wagon versions went on sale, Australian General Motors subsidiary Holden has at last unveiled its new VU-series pick-up (called a 'ute' or 'utility' Down Under), together with a year-2000 reprise of the classic 1970s 'sin bin' Sandman 'panel van' says drive.com.

Holden's new Ute

Meanwhile, arch-rival Ford Australia has responded by showing a new five-seat 'R5' version of its AU ute.

Both new Holdens go on display at the Sydney International Motor Show stand, which opens to the public on Friday 17 November.

Drive.com says the new VU, due on sale early next year, is Holden's much-anticipated reply to the runaway success of Ford's AU-series ute. But there's not yet a VU one-tonner - one of the strengths of Ford's rival offering.

The new Holden pick-up has been completely restyled and has finally gained the passenger cars' independent rear suspension (IRS) in all three models - Ute, S and SS.

Technical details and specifications are not yet available, but Holden claims that the VU is generously proportioned inside and out with greater cargo-carrying capacity than its predecessor.

Ford Falcon R5 Ute

Ford has continued the long-standing, hard-fought rivalry between itself and GM Holden in Australia by unveiling a 'concept' version of its AU ute, the R5. Drive.com speculates this may be the basis of the four-wheel-drive model Ford is known to be working on.

The five-seater R5 has 'suicide' rear doors (as available on some U.S.-market Ford pick-ups) where the B-pillar opens with the doors, giving passengers unhindered access into the vehicle. The rear seat is split 60/40 to extend the load area.

The R5 has a 5.0 litre V8 coupled to a 5-speed manual gearbox plus sporty 18-inch wheels and sill-mounted exhaust pipes.

The R5 has 75mm more ground clearance than a standard AU ute, which suggests that it may be a forerunner of Ford's upcoming four-wheel-drive. A one-tonne winch concealed behind a mesh insert in the lower intake of the front bumper adds weight to that theory.

Holden's one-off Sandman revives a name first applied to HQ Holden-based panel vans produced in the 1970s.

Holden's new Sandman van

Based on the VU ute, the Sandman features bodyside graphics in a combination of red, orange and tangerine and the main graphics are original paintings by Mambo's David McKay, depicting "beach and bush goddess" themes. The 1970s Sandman was popular with young Australian 'surfies' and the new vehicle is clearly intended to reach a new generation.

The interior trim includes 'flame applique' red leather, tangerine suede and orange velour seats while the rear compartment features a "chill out zone", complete with a surround-sound audio-visual system.


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