Thursday, 13 December 2007


We have quite a few practical motors on our roads. We have the MPV to get the kids to school, the hatchback to bring home the knock down furniture from the shops and the off road vehicles to clog up the car parks in town. One machine that would prove very versatile here is the Ute, or more commonly known as the Utility vehicle. Unfortunately we don't see this type of work horse in Ireland but if we did I'm sure it would be a great hit with plumbers and electricians who still like to be seen in something sporty whilst carrying out their daily jobs. The Ute originated in Australia and is one of the most used vehicles on the roads there. It all started in 1932 when a farmer's wife from Gippsland, Victoria, wrote a letter of complaint to Ford Australia, saying that her husband wanted a car that could carry her 'to church on Sundays and pigs to market on Mondays'. In response, a 22-year-old engineer named Lewis Brandt designed and successfully pushed the concept of a passenger/load-carrying vehicle, and the first Ford 'Coupé Utility' rolled off the production line in 1934. This vehicle was a huge success, and spawned many similar cars worldwide. However, most of the overseas pickups were more truck than car based, and to this day, the mighty Ute remains largely a unique Australian body style.

Over the years, Ford and General Motors locally manufactured Ute versions of their passenger cars. Apart from a few dark patches in the 80's/90's, Holden (the Australian arm of GM, Vauxhall/Opel) and Ford have always produced a utility based on their volume passenger car.
Today, in Australia, any load carrying car too small to be a truck or lorry is called a Ute (including 4WD traybacks etc), but among the Ute purists, and given the spirit of Lew Brandt's original design philosophy, a real Aussie Ute is one based on a passenger saloon, preferably with a sporty, seamless body-moulded tray. Fortunately, the Australian icon is still alive and well, and should be driving around the Australian roads for many years to come.

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