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Which pickups were inspired by our ‘ute’?

Undoubtedly, the world has an insatiable appetite for tough and reliable utes and pickups, particularly Australians! The 2020 results have been released and once again show the Toyota HiLux remains the title holder for the nations most popular vehicle. According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, 3421 of these robust workhorses were sold in the month of February alone. MRT has Toyota HiLux ute canopies that will add practicality and increase work efficiency for consumers. You’ll find an MRT ute canopy suitable for all popular ute brands found on Australian roads.

ford coupe ute red 1934An Australian Invention.

There are numerous ute models from an array of quality local and international brands that all appear to embody the original design of Henry Ford’s Australian coupé utility, which hit the market in 1934. Was Henry Ford’s “Kangaroo Chaser” really the design frontrunner and inspiration which paved the way for major selling vehicles like the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino?

U.S. popularity.

Well, as we know, the first known ute was born in Australia when Ford designer Lew Bandt added a bed to the local version of the 1934 Ford five-window coupe, after a civilian requested a more practical vehicle to transport pigs and attend church in.

Despite taking off in the Australian market, the American market didn’t see the coupé utility become a mainstream vehicle until 1957 when the Ford Ranchero was officially released. Ford designed his vehicles with intent to capitalise on the U.S. market and produced two versions of the Ranchero. Initially, the basic standard model targeted those looking to purchase trucks with beds for practicality, and then there was an upscale version that embodied more luxury options and accessories similar to those available for the Ford Fairlane.


ford ranchero ute black with yellow red strip

Ford Ranchero.

This postwar vehicle was produced by Ford between 1957 and 1979. It was adapted from a two-door station wagon platform that integrated the cab and cargo bed into the body. Due to the

coupé utility, this concept wasn’t new when Ford introduced the Ranchero in 1957. The first Ranchero was fundamentally a courier van with a bed, so its design combined the streamline looks of the sedan with the utility of a light-duty pickup truck.

red el camino ute

The Chevrolet El Camino was born.

Two years after the Ford Ranchero was created, Chevrolet introduced a car-truck hybrid vehicle to the market in 1959 called the El Camino. The El Camino was a combination sedan-pickup truck built on the Impala body, with the same “cat’s eye” tail lights and dramatic rear fins. This General Motors iconic coupe utility led to major success for the brand. According to Chevrolet stylist Chuck Jordan, GM Harley Earl had suggested a coupé pickup in 1952.

Australian farmers had been driving what they called “utes”—short for “coupé utility”—all around the outback. Henry Ford’s original Aussie ute was understandably a huge hit which eventually inspired every company that sold cars in Australia to make their own version. It’s fair to say the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino were partly inspired by the Australian invention and introduced to the U.S. and other international markets down the track.


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