Ford Celebrates 80th Anniversary Of The Aussie ?Ute? Photo:
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Trevor Collett | Feb, 26 2014 | 10 Comments

An Australian icon is turning 80 this year, as Ford prepares to celebrate the ‘Oak Anniversary’ of the Aussie ute.

It was 1933 when 23 year-old designer Lewis ‘Lew’ Bandt was handed a letter by Ford Australia Director Hubert French; and the coupe pickup truck as we know it debuted the following year.

The origins of the letter are as famous as the vehicle itself, when a farmer’s wife from Gippsland, Victoria, wrote to French with a request.

“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?”

Bandt sketched out his design on a blackboard, concentrating on incorporating the cabin and load-carrying area into one body.

This bucked the more popular trend of the time, where a tray was simply added to an existing passenger car chassis.

The first ute had a payload of 545 kilograms on a wheelbase of 2845mm, and Bandt was even responsible for the name, calling his creation the “coupe-utility”.

The rest is history.

While Australians are now buying more utes than ever, our taste has changed in recent years as a sales comparison between Ford’s two key offerings demonstrates.

The Ford Falcon Ute with 4679 sales was outsold last year by the 2WD Ford Ranger, which managed 4839 sales.

Add in the far more popular 4WD Ford Ranger’s sales figure of 16,913, and the Ranger racked up a total of 21,752 sales for 2013.

Australia isn’t the only country with a thirst for utility vehicles, as Ford has enjoyed enormous and ongoing success with its F-Series pickups in the US since the big truck first hit the market.

Lew Bandt retired in 1975, and was killed following a collision in 1987 while driving a restored version of his own creation.

This year will see the last Australian-designed and built Ford ute come to be, as Ford unveils its final Falcon update later in the year.

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