By on February 25, 2014

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.

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15 Comments on “TTAC Salutes The Ute On Its 80th Birthday...”

  • avatar

    While the sentimentality might have played a role, what was probably more compelling was that Aussie banks during the Depression weren’t eager to make car loans, but they would provide equipment loans to farmers. The ute made it easier to get a loan.

  • avatar

    How is this substantially different from the 1925 Ford Model T Runabout Pickup truck, which added a bed to a coupe body?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not. But Ford Australia wants to remind the locals of their heritage, so that they don’t stop buying Ford cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I think the article states the they wanted car like comfort. I do think the ute story my be a little bit of a myth. Maybe Ford can present a copy of the original letter or show some credible proof the story is relatively accurate.

      The Model T Runabout had a canvas roof.

      Light duty trucks were around prior to 1925.

  • avatar

    Looks like it last rained 100 years ago, bugger me.

  • avatar

    We did have this is the U.S. sortakinda. I have seen business coupes with a bed attached and trunk lid removed. I would be happy to drive that or a ute. Best I could do here was an old wagon. Not a bad compromise but hay bales inside make one sneeze.

  • avatar

    Wasn’t it the wife of the farmer? I’m an Aussie and that’s what I’ve always been told.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes it was a wife of a farmer. The Light Trucks of the day were no”cars”, unlike US Pickups of today. So they wanted a car that could be used as a truck.

  • avatar

    (Best Joe Pesci voice) “These two Utes…”

  • avatar

    In the 1930’s a ” Coupe Express ” was an RPO for most American car makers but no one remember them because all they did was remove the deck lid and slide in a steel bed ~ *very* handy but the car’s body took a real beating from the full milk cans rattling ’round in the back…

    Thankfully a few remain .

    In the mid 1970’s through the late 1980’s enterprising Aussis began importing old dead Utes full of bondo and cheap paint works to America via the West Coast , I liked the Chevy (? Holden ?) Utes but was put off by the $10K asking price for a car that needed total restoration to avoid rusting to junk in maybe 10 years , I kinda wish I’da bought one new , they’re BIG $ these days .


  • avatar

    So why does the publicity photo showcase a Ranger instead of a modern Falcon ute? Any reason besides the fact that the Falcon is ending production and the Ranger isn’t?

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