TTAC Salutes The Ute On Its 80th Birthday
As far as automotive marketing goes, a truck story is always going to appeal to your emotions. More so than any passenger car, truck buyers ask more from their pickups, put them through more strenuous tasks and treat them in a very different way.
It’s fitting, then, that Australia’s Ute has a similarly heart warming story, one that we can all connect with – even if the Ute was never sold here.
In 1933, a poor Australian farmer needed a single vehicle that could “go to church on Sunday and a truck to take the pigs to market on Monday.” He mailed a letter to Hubert French, managing director of the Ford Motor Company of Australia. With this short letter in hand, 23 year old Lewis “Lew” Bradt was tasked with designing something that gave the day-to-day comfort of a sedan, with the utility of a truck. In 1934 Ford’s Ute was born, though christened the “coupe-utility” by Lew.
The main body shell was a Ford Model 40, but from the front doors back a cab wall was added, along with steel bedsides integrated into the body, with a wooden bed floor. This was a new step from the traditional method of a separate body and bed. It helped to maximize the load floor area, while maintaining a compact and streamlined body, by eliminating the extra forward bed ‘wall’ and the gap between the bed and cab of a traditional truck. The Ute spawned a cultural icon for not only Australia, but in the U.S. as well with our El Camino and Ranchero.
Ford would like to credit the little Ute to their success with the F150 and global Ranger, despite its plans to end Australian production of the Ute and its Falcon twin by October of 2016.
So hats off, mullets free to the wind; and thank that thrifty farmer for his modest wish.
More by Phillip Thomas
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