If there's a vehicle that's more infamous than famous, that vehicle would have to be the Sandman. It attracted attention - for all the wrong reasons - in the seventies, but is nevertheless an iconic part of Aussie motoring history. When the Monaro was revived on the eve of the new Millennium, it seemed natural for the Sandman to follow, which it did at the Sydney Motor Show in 2000.
The reboot of the Sandman became a collaboration between Holden and streetwear/surfwear brand, Mambo, but had its roots in a sketch by Andrew Smith, one of Holden's young designers, in 1997. From that sketch, the idea of new Sandman stagnated, according to Holden's Executive in Charge of Design, Mike Simcoe, until Mambo was invited to be a part of the project.
"As I see it, here you have two Australian legends getting together and having fun," Simcoe said.
"Mambo's a cutting edge company with a whimsical outlook on life, while we tend to be a little more on the conservative side. When two talented design teams approach a task from entirely different directions, you're bound to get a pretty amazing result."
Based on a stock VU ute, the Sandman concept featured a unique canopy to mimic the panel van look, topped by a special Mambo surfboard, but it was the riot of colour and bold graphics that drew the most attention. Dubbed "Burnin' Love", the paint featured a vibrant mix of red, orange and tangerine in a very Mambo-esque take on the classic hot rod flamed paint job. A modern interpretation of the Sandman tailgate graphic was rendered in the same colours, while that essential panel van accessory - the airbrushed mural - was copied off original art created by Mambo art director, David McKay. A 'bush goddess' graced one side, while a 'beach goddess' featured on the other.
Inside, the "Burnin' Love" themed continued with flame appliquéd seats in red leather, tangerine suede and orange velour produced by Paratus Industries to the Mambo/Holden design. The flame treatment even extended to the instrument cluster, dubbed 'bushfire alert'! In the back, a 'chill out zone' featured freeform seating, surround-sound theatre system and more flame motifs in the ceiling lights. Car Shine supplied the 19-inch Lorinser wheels, tyres and brakes that featured the Mambo logo milled on the calipers.
One of the stars of the Sydney show, with a "cool" factor that was off the scale, the Sandman concept remains one of Holden's best loved. Following its tour of the shows, the Sandman was put on display at GM-H headquarters in Port Melbourne.
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JUST Cars' Top Ten Australian Motor Show Concept Cars:
- Holden EFIJY: Australian Motorshow concept no. 1
- Ford R7: Australian Motorshow concept no. 2
- Holden 'Coupe Concept': Australian Motorshow concept no. 3
- Ford XA Falcon 'Superbird': Australian Motorshow concept no. 4
- HDT Monza coupe: Australian Motorshow concept no. 5
- Ford XT Falcon 'Super Roo' coupe: Australian Motorshow concept no. 6
- Holden UTEster: Australian Motorshow concept no. 7
- Ford 2 door concepts (AEC/AutoTek/Dreamtech): Australian Motorshow concept no. 8
- Holden Mambo/Sandman panel van: Australian Motorshow concept no. 9
- Toyota Sportivo coupe: Australian Motorshow concept no. 10