By Larry Edsall
So, says the editor, as long as you’re at the SEMA Show all week, pick a truck of the day and write something about it.
I spotted this Holden Ute Monday, the day before the official start of the show. If you like El Caminos, you’d think you’d died and gone to heaven if you visited Australia and saw they’re still making them, though now based on a much newer GM platform and with hot-rodded Corvette engines tucked beneath the hood.
Actually, this history of such car-based pickup trucks goes back to the 1930s in Australia and a letter written by the wife of a farmer to the general manager of Ford of Australia, inquiring why the company didn’t build a vehicle that could carry pigs to market and the family to church.
Ford responded by taking a coupe and grafting on a pickup-style bed, and GM’s Aussie arm, Holden, followed suit after World War II.
But while based on the Holden Ute, this vehicle that caught my eye at SEMA is labeled as the Holden8r because builder Bernt Karlsson has incorporated parts from both the Holden-based Pontiac G8 and the Chevrolet Camaro.
Karlsson is a native of Sweden who learned old-school techniques in bodywork and painting as a teenager and then came to the United States in 1989 and knocked on Boyd Coddington’s door. He then opened his own shop, created Candy Tangerine and Passion Purple paint colors, and eventually went back to Coddington’s as shop manager.
Nowadays, Customs by Bernt, Paint & Restoration works out of the 401K Hot Rod Shop in Anaheim, Calif.
Karlsson’s Ute was built with front fenders from a G8, lower body parts from the famed Holden Maloo, and a 2012 Camaro nose, but with a 2013 Camaro grille and unique carbon-fiber lower V-shaped air dam.
An RK Sport ZR1 hood’s plexiglass section allows the G8 6.0-liter V-8 with its polished Magnuson supercharger to be seen beneath the carbon-fiber hood. Exhaling through a Magnaflow exhaust system, the engine provides some 500 horsepower to Schott wheels that house Harrop brakes and are wrapped with Toyo tires.
The changes include rocker flares and a rear valance with integrated exhaust tips. Inside, there is Stichcraft seating and Crossfire audio. Two-tone paint is from Valspar’s House of Kolor.