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Opel Vivaro Surf Edition previews next Holden Sandman

A five-seat van with a swirly colour scheme and roof racks to carry surfboards is set to be the Holden Sandman of the future.

Get ready for a new generation of Holden Sandman -- and we’re not talking about the recent tribute edition of the Commodore with Sandman stickers and shagpile floormats.

A five-seat van with tinted windows, a swirly colour scheme -- and built-in roof racks to carry surfboards -- is set to become the Holden Sandman of the future.

It has waterproof flooring for beach gear but, unlike many personalised Sandman panelvans sold from 1974 to 1979, there is no love-heart shaped ‘window’ between the cabin and the cargo area.

Instead, there’s a toughened screen to prevent cargo flying into the cabin, with a slim Perspex window to assist rear vision.

Revealed at this week’s Frankfurt motor show the Vivaro “Surf Edition” comes from General Motors’ European brand Opel, which will become the source of more than one-third of all future Holdens once the Elizabeth, South Australia car factory closes in late 2017.

The modern Sandman was unveiled in the same week Holden confirmed there would not be a V8 version of the next generation Commodore due to be imported from 2018.

However, executives at Europe’s biggest automotive expo said Holden’s model range will be vastly expanded, with cars coming from Europe, North America, Thailand and South Korea.

In addition to the return of the Holden Astra and a complete overhaul of the rest of the line-up, Holden is expected to add commercial vans and other vehicles as it tries to claw back lost ground.

Holden is on track to post its lowest sales in 22 years and was overtaken by Hyundai in the new-car sales race year-to-date in August.

If Holden finishes the year in fourth place it will be the first time in the company’s history -- since 1948 -- it has not been inside the Top Three.

In March, Holden introduced a Sandman tribute edition of the Commodore wagon and ute, but some fans said it wasn’t the real deal because it wasn’t a panel van.

Holden says it planned to sell fewer than 250 modern Sandmans over the past six months.

The original Sandman sold between 1974 and 1979 was based on a Kingswood panelvan; Holden marketing experts came up with an ingenious way to broaden the appeal of its trade vehicle by embracing surf culture.

Repeating history, that’s what Holden looks set to do once again, by offering a version of its latest trade van with passenger-car creature comforts.

Holden is remaining tight-lipped about its future showroom plans but the van is expected to be one of 24 new models introduced between now and 2020.