Ute Never Believe It! Top Car Mag 'Picks-Up' New Hill Climb Record

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LUTON, UNITED KINGDOM – Nov 8, 2012: When the UK’s oldest surviving car maker joined forces with the world’s oldest car magazine at the world’s first purpose-built motorsport venue to set a new record, few would have bet against them achieving it.

Shelsley Walsh hill climb in Worcestershire has played host to some dramatic machinery in its 111-year history, but none of it has ever been classed as a ‘Light Goods Vehicle’. Vauxhall changed that last month when it enlisted the help of Autocar magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Steve Cropley to pilot its 431PS Maloo VXR pick-up – or Ute – up the 1000-yard track in record time.

Australian-born Steve felt instantly at home in the Maloo, which is manufactured by Vauxhall’s sister company HSV in Melbourne. “The plan was not just to set an LCV record time at Shelsley, but make it respectable enough to stick for a while,’ said Steve. ‘Despite the track being dampish, and littered with wildlife that thought the hillclimb season had ended, we managed a 38.65 second run. The Maloo’s huge torque, decent launch control and easy handling made the whole experience less of a chore than it should have been, too.’

Vauxhall is no stranger to Shelsley Walsh, and in the early part of the 20th century cars like its C10 ‘Prince Henry’ and 30-98 models conquered the hill, setting numerous records. More recently, the Luton company held the press launch of its Astra GTC model at the track, challenging journalists to set fastest time of the day in a fully-fledged championship.

Mark Constanduros from Shelsley Walsh was delighted with the new record: ‘We always welcome new ways of tackling the hill, and seeing such an incongruous vehicle blast up the track driven by one of our favourite journalists was quite something. I’m certain that it’ll lay down the gauntlet to manufacturers of other LCVs, though they’ll have to try hard to beat Steve’s time!’

Vauxhall launched the latest generation Maloo into the UK earlier this year. Based on the iconic VXR8 saloon, it’s powered by a 431PS, 6.2-litre V8 engine driving the rear wheels through a mechanical limited slip differential. While it can hit 155mph and accelerate from 0-60mph in under five seconds, it has a payload of one tonne and a load-bed volume of over 1200 litres. Maloos are built to order, and cost 51,500.

Read Steve Cropley’s full account of the record-setting drive in the new issue of Autocar, out today.

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