If there is one Australian motoring legend, it is the ute.
The nickname for, and shortening of, the term ‘utility’, the Australian ute has been around since there were cars in Australia and the need to carry a hay bail or two around the farm. In 1934, Ford Australia were the first company in the world to offer a Coupe Utility vehicle, and are justifiably proud of the fact. These were never available in the U.K. and represent a lesser known and fascinating aspect of Ford products worldwide, the adaption of one country’s product to the market of another.
With the introduction of the Australian built Falcon, Ford offered a ute version from the outset and continue to offer ute versions of their Falcon cars right up until the present day. Every ute has been a version of the current car line, with the intriguing exception of the XG and XH.
Between 1988 and 1998, the Falcon car line consisted of the ‘E’ series, the EA, EB, ED, EF and EL, but the ute and van versions comprised the XG and XH series, which were mild styling and mechanical revisions of the XF ute. Ford indulged in this strange policy due to the evaporation of the local competition, the need to satisfy emission regulations for a car based ute rather than a commercial vehicle based ute, the availability of a spare plant which could continue producing the already developed chassis without affecting the new model car range and the inherent ‘rightness’ and popularity of the product. No doubt, there were sound commercial and money saving aspects too, but the XG and XH utes remain unique.
Ford also produced a range of vans based on the car. The initial vans of the XK - XP model were panelled in versions of the estate car, but all later versions became high top versions. In the mid seventies, with the popularity of sport and recreational vanning, Ford even sold customised vans with extending roofs and interior appointments with exciting names such as Surfsider or Sundowner.