Insane Custom Retro Utes That Will Make You Drool

By October 4, 2016Blog

There are almost endless possibilities when it comes to modifying a vehicle. From the smallest adjustments under the hood to extravagant external mods, even the plainest stock ute can take on a whole new dimension with a little work done to it. And while we specialise in ute canopies here at the The Ute Canopy Co, there’s something about retro utes that have been taken to crazy new heights that really get us going. So here are 5 insane custom retro utes that will really make you drool. Enjoy.

There’s something about custom and modified retro utes that’s damn irresistible. Here are 5 insane examples of Aussie classics that have been taken into a whole new dimension.

Custom Holden EH Ute


Sometimes simplicity is the key when it comes to modifying a ute, especially something as clean and boxy as the Holden EH. This beautiful example is owned by Ben Sacilottos and was handed down to him by his father. Turning it from the decades-old Sunday cruiser into the beast it is today was a 5-year project undertaken by the renowned retrotech EH builders, the Desisto Brothers, alongside the Sacilottos family.

Speaking with Street Machine about the project, Ben Sacilottos remembers the process well. “We took it off the road to raise the ride height, fit new wheels, fix the gaps and do a few minor rust repairs,” he said. “That turned into a full ground-up rebuild and became a five-year project.” The finished project is far-cry from lumbering ute that was handed down from father to son. It features a supercharged 3.8 litre engine, oyster leather (including in the tray) a custom paint job and custom interiors including a polished Billet Specialties steering column and wheel and a custom grille.

Custom Holden FX Ute


Another customised classic, this Holden FX is an absolute beaut. The FX was the first ever Holden and is widely regarded as the great Australian vehicle. Despite its long history, you won’t find many as pretty as this driving around these days. This FX is another refined and elegant retro mod, owned by Mark Riek. It retains the car’s authenticity while bringing it into the modern world with some tasteful modifications both inside and out.

Mark found his FX for a thousand dollars on eBay, rusted and a wreck, and spent endless hours alongside his father John working on bringing the exteriors back to life. For every hour spent on the exteriors though, Mark put at least twice as much into working on what is underneath. The engine is an original Holden grey six, supplied by Geoff Scott, featuring a Garrett T25 turbocharger, PWR water-to-air intercooler and an electronic fuel injection system with a MoTeC M84 ECU. The FX also features VL Commodore rack-and-pinion steering, a HG Holden collapsible column and column-shift mechanism and VS Commodore disc brakes. To top it off, Mark managed to source 16-inch Smoothie steel wheels for that crucial retro look.

John Zeigler’s ‘Mad Max’ Holden HJ Ute

retro utes

Does this one look familiar? We’re not surprised. What you’re looking at is the customised HJ ute that can be seen in the opening seen of Mad Max sitting outside Fat Nancy’s Cafe. Owned by John Zeigler, the inky black beast features a Holden Caprice nose with S Class Mercedes Benz headlights and a custom grille, and a GMH spoiler that was a prototype that never made it to production.

Under the hood there is a stock 350 Chev engine with a Sig Erson cam, Pacemaker headers and a Turbo 400 transmission. The icing on the cake though is the door handles, or lack thereof. Instead of standard handles, this sleek demon features Ford boot-release buttons hidden underneath the outside mirrors. Very cool.

Custom Holden FJ Ute

retro utes

Darren Ryan always dreamed of owning an old Holden FJ ute, but it wasn’t until a cancer scare that made him reflect upon his life that he actually took the plunge and bought one. Ryan’s father had raced FJ’s back in the 60’s so he’d always wanted one, and when what was thought to be lung cancer turned out to be sarcoidosis he began his quest to make his dreams a reality. After buying and towing home a completely destroyed 50s FJ, Ryan set out on a long and exciting (albeit expensive) journey bringing it back to life.

Under the hood lies a 5.0 litre VQ Statesman engine, T700 tranmission and electronics. The old hunk was then fitted with a new driveline, VR BorgWarner differentials with 3.45s, Truetrac LSD and 31-spline axles, VR Commodore slotted discs and Showwheels KWC Forged split-spoke rims. Inside and out it is surprisingly clean and simple, maintaining its retro looks with a few modern necessities. The ute won first place in this year’s 2015 Queensland Hot Rod Show – it’s not hard to see why.

Custom 71′ Ford XY Falcon Ute

retro utes

We had to include a Ford in here, and this one is a incredible example of a modified 71′ XY Falcon. Leo Martino bought his ute off a mate who’d had it sitting in a carport for years. It was badly rusted and required a lot of body work including new door skins and lower front guards, new custom rear chassis rails, lower rear quarters and a new beaver panel along with a fuel tank filler and door, all done by panel beater Mars Trupkovic who also gave the ute its killer green paint job.

While the exteriors are undoubtably cool, what lies under the hood is something else all together. A Competition Engines 700hp, 440-cube engine is what you can see sticking out of the bonnet, complete with CHI 3V Cleveland heads, a CHI 3V inlet manifold, a Dominator carburetor, MSD ignition, custom radiator, Magnafuel pump, ASR sump, a custom dual 3in exhaust, fused to 2in primaries and 3.5in collectors. Phew.

If you’re after a quality hardtop ute canopy then give the Ute Canopy Co a call for a quote. We work with our trusted European manufacturer to bring the most stylish and functional canopies to the Australian market.