A Turbo Holden Ute Is How You Go Grassroots Drifting Down Under

A Turbo Holden Ute Is How You Go Grassroots Drifting Down Under photo
A Turbo Holden Ute Is How You Go Grassroots Drifting Down Under photo

When it comes to drifting, the go-to cars are all from Japan. Australia had its fair share of cheap and potent rear-wheel-drive platforms, which were somehow underrepresented on the drift scene. As one Aussie demonstrates, though, a turbo kit and a few suspension mods are all you need to slide a ute in style.

This ragged Holden Commodore ute build was put together by Tali from Keep It Reet, an organization that focuses on running affordable grassroots drift events in Melbourne, Australia. In a video posted to YouTube, we get to see what the ute can do with a turbo bolted on to GM's venerable Buick 3800 V6, known as the Ecotec.


The ute became a dedicated track machine after it was defected by police. The engine scored a turbo lifted from a Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo. On the dyno, the Commodore ute made 295 horsepower at the wheels, and 368 pound-feet of torque. That's a hefty lift over the 197 hp and 224 lb-ft the stock engine delivered at the flywheel. In the Australian parlance, you would say it's a turbocharged Ecotec that "mangs hard." It's a local slang term specifically reserved for the sound of the GM V6 banging off the rev limiter.

Beyond the added power, the Commodore also scored a set of coilovers, allowing the suspension to be better set up for drifting. It's also kitted out with a hydraulic handbrake for initiating slides, and a set of modified knuckles allowing additional steering lock for holding greater drift angles. The stock differential was welded, too, as is common in budget drift builds.

As an Australian, it's a good laugh to see the economy car dash with the revs pinned and the scenery sideways. Save for a misfire issue and a heat-related cutout problem, the turbo V6 sounds fantastic. It chirps and flutters with a ton of turbo dose noises as it slides around Calder Park Raceway. The coilover setup obviously makes a big difference, too, as the original high-riding ute suspension wouldn't really be up to the job.

The ute is by no means a top-tier drift car, but that's not the point. It's more of a drift missile, a term reserved for a rough-and-ready drift car built for practice. A true missile isn't supposed to be pristine and perfect, since drift practice typically involves putting the car in the wall pretty frequently. A cheap old Holden ute is an ideal base in this regard, at least in Australia. Plenty of parts are available, they start with decent power out of the box, and they crucially have a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive.

Sometimes, it's the builds that come from humble origins that are the most inspiring. It's great to see a junky V6 ute turned into something more with the tender application of love and boost.

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