How to pick up an Aussie pickup for your farm

Ford pickup

Sometimes it can seem like we get a pretty mundane selection of pickups in the UK.

While our North Americans cousins are hooning around in dual-wheeled Ford F350s and the Australians routinely stuff 600hp under the bonnet of their HSV Maloo, we are left rattling about in a 2.0-litre diesel.

However, modern-day communications have made it easier than ever to track down your perfect pickup and get it transported to your postcode, all from the safety of the farm office.

Two people who have done exactly that are Hampshire farmer Robert Benford and his brother Stephen.

This year they imported a two-wheel drive Holden pickup from Australia. We asked them how they got on.

See also: Mercedes reveals shock plans for new pickup

Are there any UK dealers?

In most cases, no. There are a couple of Vauxhall dealers willing to source a Holden, but you would have to pay through the nose for the privilege.

And the other downside of going through a UK dealer is that you won’t necessarily be able to tinker with your spec.

The Holden, for instance, was only available as a £58,000 600hp Maloo version souped-up by Tom Walkinshaw Racing.

Importing – where do you start?

Find an overseas dealership. Bigger dealers are more likely to have experience of exporting trucks so make a beeline for them. It is also worth being picky and finding one near a port to reduce transport costs.

In some cases it can be difficult to get the ball rolling, so persevere. In the end the Benford brothers sent an Australia-dwelling relative to the dealership to get things moving.

Once the dealer realised it was a genuine enquiry the rest of the business was done via email.

Is shipping expensive?

Getting a truck from southern Australia to Hampshire is a serious expedition. If you care about your cargo, it is worth paying to put it in a 20ft box rather than having someone drive it on/off each time.

The voyage took the Benfords’ pickup to Singapore, through the Suez Canal and Mediterranean before finally docking in Southampton a month later.

The bill for the round-the-world voyage was just shy of £3,000, including insurance.

Is it ready to drive on UK roads?

Not yet. The next step is to pass an individual vehicle approval test, which is a more detailed version of an MoT.

In the case of the Holden it needed its speedo switching from kph to mph and a fog light fitting to the rear.

The quantity of work needed will depend on the country you are importing from and how closely their regulations sit to the UK’s, but there are plenty of companies around that can help you out.

Pickup

For cars and pickups coming from Australia and North America, there shouldn’t be much to worry about. Wacky Asian imports might be a different story, though.

To reduce the palaver it is worth getting a statement of conformity from the manufacturer. This indicates that the car conforms to Australia’s automotive regulations, which are pretty well aligned with the EU’s.

Sorting this early on will save you having to send the car through a pricey conformity test in the UK

How does the tax work?

The Australian government applies a 10% tax to all sales but anyone exporting should be able to get that back.

The dealer might even knock it off the bill if you ask; if not, you will need to speak to the Australian tax office.

Once you get it to UK shores you will also be slapped with an import duty bill that adds another £3,000.

On a brighter note, if you are VAT registered you can claim your UK tax back, which in the Benfords’ case was a healthy £5,000.

Do you have to pay the full ticket price up front?

In most cases, yes. Finance companies refuse to offer packages on cars that aren’t in the UK, so the chances are you’ll have to stump up the full whack before it leaves the showroom.

Our example Holden had a AUS$40,000 (£19,860) sticker price, though the brothers managed to barter that down to $37,445 (£18,600).

There are a couple of other costs worth noting, too. UK road tax adds another £230 because it’s a commercial vehicle – consider that a bit of a steal given the V8’s ozone-destroying emissions figures would put it in the top bracket for a passenger car.

Fully comprehensive insurance is £650, but if you are under the age of 21 then forget about it.

The Holden

Holden exterior

Why pick a Holden?

Stephen Benford is a man with a colourful car history that reaches back to 1970s hotrods. His current garage includes two pickups at either end of the spectrum – a workaday, Malaysian-made Proton and a long-wheelbase Ford F150.

But it was the Holden’s Top Gear appearance racing up an open-cast mine in Australia that encouraged him to put in his order.

The bills

Pickup purchase price £20,220

Shipping £2,937

UK handling £700

Import duty £2,298

VAT (reclaimable) £5,165

IVA test fee £199

Total cost £31,519 + conversion cost

In the end he went for the SS – the entry-level V8.

There are five different models in total that include smaller V6s and the top-speccers that come with more than 350hp.

If that is not enough, Holden’s special vehicles division will build you a GTS Maloo, which has a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 and 575hp.

What’s it like?

It is Australian-made so one of its biggest appeals is that it is right-hand drive.

The V8 is also a delicious thing. We had it up well beyond 100mph on a quick off-highway sprint, but no doubt it has plenty more in the tank.

The obvious punishment for that V8 growl is fuel economy, though you can still expect to hit about 25mpg if you drive conservatively.

The options list is as long as your arm and includes remote starting, 18in alloys, a rear-view camera, 8in touchscreen and a plush, car-like interior.

Holden interior

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