Ford is ending Australian production after 90 years in 2016, and with it may go perhaps the most iconic vehicles in its auto market - the ute. Car-based pickup trucks like the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino were always more of a curiosity than a true market force here, but in Australia, they have long proven hugely popular.
As the legend goes, Ford invented the niche after a farmer's wife had asked Ford Australia's managing director for a more utilitarian car. Her request was simple: "My husband and I can't afford a car and a truck but we need a car to go to church on Sunday and a truck to take the pigs to market on Monday. Can you help?"
Ford's design team came up with a two-passenger, enclosed, steel coupe body with glass windows and a steel-paneled, wooden-frame load area in the rear. The sides of the bed were blended into the body to make it look more unified, and to keep costs down, the front end and interior were based on the Ford Model 40 five-window coupe. Power came from a V8 with shifting chores handled by a three-speed manual. Within a year, the new vehicle was ready, and production began in 1934. Lead designer Lewis Bandt christened it the coupe-utility.
It proved to be a success in Australia's rural areas, and in 1961, Ford added the ute bodystyle as an option on the Falcon. It has remained an important part of the Australian Falcon to this, and 455,000 of them have been sold since introduction.
Unfortunately, the history of the ute might be at an end. With Ford ending Australian production, it looks like the end of Australian-market exclusive vehicles, and in the near future, there might not even be a suitable rear-wheel-drive car-based chassis to build utes on. "Ranger will remain as our leading Ute / pick-up post the end of Falcon Ute production," said Sinead Phipps, Communications Director at Ford Australia, in an email to Autoblog. Scroll down to get the full scoop on ute history in the press release.Permalink | Email this | Comments