Hold On: How To Build And Register A Holden UTE In The US Legally

Most American’s, including us, are jealous of some of the GM cars offered by Holden across the pond even though the brand is no longer available. The Commodore frontend is a hot-swap here in the States, and this conversion can usually be found on select GM vehicles at car shows. While this swap is fairly straight forward, one that is less common is the Holden UTE.

Unfortunately we never did get the modern-day LS-powered “El Camino” over here in the US. Pontiac did get our hopes up in 2009 with the announcement of the little sporty truck/car scheduled for 2010. Unfortunately, the GM brand went out of business before the American version of the UTE could roll down the production lines. And while you could try and get the Holden imported, due to government rules and regulations, the odds of it hitting the streets legally would be a huge undertaking and one with many dead ends. So are there any other options to get this cool machine in the States?

Photo Credit: Killboy

Travis Bell, an Indiana resident, tells VinWiki that he was able to get a UTE tagged, titled, and registered in the US legally.

Travis started with a 2009 Pontiac G8, which he claims had a horrible CarFax allowing him to purchase the vehicle at a reasonable price of $13,000. At the time, Travis had no intention of converting the G8 to a UTE. However, a friend of Travis’, Dave Lowe, had a left-hand-drive UTE in the States that was legal. Travis reached out to Lowe to get more information on importing the UTE and getting it registered. Lowe informed Travis about the process, which included bringing a UTE in from Australia and then mating the body of the UTE to Travis’ G8. Travis said, “Let’s do it.” Lowe was able to locate a truck that had flood damage that was perfect for the swap.

After the totaled UTE hit the States and made its way to Lowe’s shop in North Carolina, Travis loaded up with an empty trailer to go pick up his new project. After talking to Lowe and observing the modifications needed to put the two vehicles together, Travis decided this conversion was way out of his comfort zone. He then decided to get Lowe to perform the swap for him. He then headed back to Indiana with an empty trailer and fetched his G8, which he returned to Lowe’s shop.

Photo Credit: Haley Bell

In only two months time, Dave Lowe was able to take the G8 and the UTE and mate the two vehicles together perfectly. Travis retrieved his new ride and headed back to Indiana, but there was a problem, the UTE had not yet been registered. You might think that it’s this point of the story where the problems start; however, that’s not the case. Indiana has a process called a body transfer affidavit that is used for recreational vehicles. Travis was able to use this affidavit to retitle his 4-door Pontiac G8 as a 2-door Holden UTE legally. He went to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and surrendered his G8 title to receive his new Holden UTE title.

Travis says the process to get one registered in the US was a lot easier than most people claim and that he drives it every day. The total cost of this venture for Travis was less than $40,000, which included the purchase of his G8, a totaled UTE, labor, and the registration of the vehicle. With all things considered, this is a steal for a one of a kind vehicle that is legal to drive in all 50-states. Don’t you think?

Photo Credit: Randy McCuddy

About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
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