By Robby DeGraff
Got a Corvette ZR1 but need to haul more than your backside up the street? Check out the Lupini Chevrolet SuperUte. It's the ZR1 of Chevy El Caminos.
What’s that you say, Lupini? No, it’s not another Italian exotic-car manufacturer we’ve never heard of. It’s a South Africa-based tuner known for churning out high-performance variants of BMWs, Fords, Opels, Subarus and Volkswagens.
LupiniPower, a family-owned company with more than 80 years of racing experience, started in the early 1950s when Greg Lupini took delivery of the first Ferrari to come to South Africa. The Scuderia Lupini racing team was created and went on to compete with Ferraris, Porsches and Maseratis in the Monaco Grand Prix, South African Grand Prix and other races.
Today, LupiniPower tweaks the performance of two subcompacts — making the 150-horsepower Lupini Ford Fiesta 1.6 and the 135-hp Lupini Suzuki Swift 1.5 — and builds a mean-looking Lupini Chevrolet SuperUte that puts out a whopping 535 hp.
Based on the Chevrolet Ute SS – the same car-truck that was supposed to come to the U.S. as the Pontiac G8 ST -- the heart of this black monster of a pickup is similar to the supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V-8 found in the Corvette ZR1. When building high-performance variants, LupiniPower tries to make them more fuel efficient, more powerful and more affordable for enthusiasts.
This SuperUte is, without a doubt, a supercar, er, truck. It will go from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, about as fast as an Aston Martin DB9 or Lamborghini Gallardo. It hits 100 mph in less than 10 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 175 mph. With a quarter-mile time of 12.7 seconds, the SuperUte would go neck-and-neck with a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti on the drag strip.
Bigger front disc brakes and calipers and full Bilstein suspension help the SuperUte handle even better. LupiniPower’s TractionBar helps manage the SuperUte’s impressive 590 pounds-feet of torque and achieve its blistering zero-to-60 acceleration.
LupiniPower even offers a limited-slip differential for track enthusiasts. Unqiue 20-inch staggered black wheels are wrapped in wide high-performance Bridgestone Potenza tires, 245s up front and 285s in the rear.
Of course, high performance comes at a cost. A new Lupini Chevrolet SuperUte starts at around $91,000, and it comes with a five-year warranty. That may seem expensive for a Ute, but keep in mind that you’d get supercar performance combined with the bed of a pickup truck! No. It’s not available for the U.S.