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2 February 2018

Remember the Gemini? Here are the ute versions we never got

By Tom WhiteTom White
Yes, under there is a Gemini. No, none of them were sold in Australia.

The local legend had a raft of weird pick-up versions never sold in Australia.

General Motors (who I will never forgive for killing Isuzu cars and Saab) gave us a rather advanced idea in the '80s.

A modular (sort-of) platform that could support several different bodystyles and engines designed to be used in a vast array of markets. Kind of like today's Volkswagen MQB platform, but for the late '70s/early '80s.

We’re talking about the GM T car, fondly remembered in Australia as the Holden Gemini. While here it’s mostly remembered as a sedan, coupe, wagon, or even panelvan, the T car was sold in overseas markets as a pick up truck. Check ‘em out.

Chevrolet Chevette 500

Neat '80s racing stickers down the side... Neat '80s racing stickers down the side...

Oh yes, Holden’s American counterpart – Chevrolet – produced a pick-up T car. But not for the US, it was better suited to the ‘developing economy’ of Brazil. It maintains pretty much matching Gemini bodywork all around aside from the tray. Powered by a 1.6-litre Opel-derived four-cylinder, it produced a whopping 52.2kW (every tenth counts...) This gave it a max payload of – you guessed it – 500kg.

It was produced as late as 1994 (our Gemini kicked the bucket in ’86) and then was replaced by a hilarious FWD pick-up version of the Opel Corsa (Barina).

Grumett Colour/250M Rural

A face only a fiberglass manufacturer could love... A face only a fiberglass manufacturer could love...

The what? Uraguay’s locally-produced 'Grumett' truck was based on Germany’s GM-T car, the Opel Kadett.

Only, they imported them without most of the bodywork. This led to a local body design comprised almost entirely of fiberglass, pushing the weight down to only 960kg. The drivetrain was taken out of the Brazilian Chevette sedan, a 1.4-litre four-cylinder with 55.2kW.

Saehan Max

With RWD and tough looks it'd make a good little engine swap candidate. With RWD and tough looks it'd make a good little engine swap candidate.

Never heard of Saehan? It’s the predecessor brand to what became Daewoo and subsequently GM Korea. Clearly, the GM roots ran deep early in Korea's automotive history.

This is probably the best looking of all the little utes on this list, maintaining the muscular look of the Opel Kadett up the front. It’s too bad it also apparently carried the ‘Scat’ nameplate at one point…

It packed the original 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine imported from Isuzu Japan producing only 54kW, and a 2.0-litre diesel imported from Opel out of the Ascona sedan producing only 43kW.

A few hundred of these things were exported to Europe, where nobody really wanted them. Today they are likely one of the rarest GM-T cars around.

Check out the original 1979 Korean ad for the Saehan Max:

Would you rock any of these ‘Gemini utes’? Tell us which one in the comments.