First ute is 80 years old

Posted by AndiC on 18 June 2014 | 0 Comments

MILESTONE: Ford is celebrating the 80th anniversary of its Australian invention of its ute, which led to the development of vehicles such as the F-Series and Ranger (background)

You'd think the Americans had invented the ute, after all the US's roads are teeming with them and for almost 40 years, the F-150, GM Sierra and Silverado and Dodge Ram have dominated the sales charts, with sedans not having had a look-in in years. But it was the Aussies who did it.

Ford has put things straight, with the Detroit-based company celebrating the 80th anniversary of the ute, as the forerunner of modern pickup trucks, acknowledging that we can all thank a Victoria farming family or more accurately the lady of the house for the idea in the first place.

Back in the early 30s a 23-year- old Ford Australia designer called Lewis (Lew) Bandt created the ute by listening to that farming family's request for a vehicle with more "utility". Hence the name, well in this part of the world, anyway.

Like all good ideas, the first integrated passenger-car based ute was born out of necessity, as with the first Model T.

In mid-1933 the then managing director of Ford Australia, Hubert French, received a letter from a farmer's wife in Gippsland, Victoria.

She wrote: "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?" What the customer wanted was a vehicle with passenger car comfort that could also carry loads.   

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