4WORD

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

THE END of the GU Pa­trol and Land Rover De­fender left a huge hole in the 4x4 land­scape, not only for the loss of these pop­u­lar mod­els, but more so be­cause of the loss to the heavy­duty 4x4 ute seg­ment. Nis­san still sells a Pa­trol in the form of the Y62 wagon and Land Rover is promis­ing a re­place­ment for De­fender in 2020, but nei­ther of these new mod­els will spawn or are likely to spawn a ute.

Be­fore we look too far into this, a tra­di­tional ute, as coined by Lew Brandt’s Ford Coupe Util­ity, was a ve­hi­cle with a cargo tray in­te­grated with the pas­sen­ger body. This is what dif­fer­en­ti­ated a ute, as the name was short­ened to, from a pick-up, which had a sep­a­rate pas­sen­ger com­part­ment and load bed.

With the demise of the Holden ute last year, there are tech­ni­cally, by def­i­ni­tion, no more utes avail­able in Aus­tralia. The GU and De­fender were, by def­i­ni­tion, pick-up trucks, just as Land Cruiser 79s, Rangers, Hiluxes, Tri­tons and all the other one-tonne, load-car­ry­ing ve­hi­cles are. But the term ute has been cor­rupted to in­clude these pick-ups within its us­age; al­though, call them what you will, we’re not fussy.

The Land Cruiser 79 is the only heavy-duty 4x4 ute/pick-up/tray­back/ truck still read­ily avail­able in Aus­tralia from the man­u­fac­turer. Amer­i­can pick-ups are also avail­able from grey im­porters who con­vert them to right-hand drive for Aus­tralian use, but none of these come from the ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer. Nor are any of them as suit­able to our four-wheel drive us­age as the 79 is, or the GU and De­fender were. They are great for tow­ing and load haul­ing, but aren’t as tough and rugged as these three spe­cial­ist ve­hi­cles.

An­other al­ter­na­tive is to cre­ate your own, and we’ve seen plenty of chopped Land Cruiser 200s, 100s and GQ/GU Pa­trol wag­ons, but Peter Thorpe’s dou­ble-cab is the first Y62 ‘ute’ we’ve seen. There is an­other dou­ble-cab Y62 in Queens­land, and An­drew from On­track 4X4, who did much of the work on Peter’s rig, is cur­rently work­ing on a sin­gle-cab Y62 for him­self.

Wag­ons chopped to utes are noth­ing new, and with the demise of the GU and De­fender we’re sure to see more of them. We’ve seen Land Rover Dis­cov­erys, Toy­ota Pra­dos and even an FJ Cruiser con­verted to a ute. It’s a trend we love, as it harks back to the in­ge­nu­ity of a great Aus­tralian de­signer work­ing for Ford back in the 1930s, when he cre­ated a ve­hi­cle that could “both take pas­sen­gers to church on Sun­day and pigs to mar­ket on Mon­day”.

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