BEAUT UTES

OUR FAVE WORK­HORSES

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS - WORDS & PHO­TOS MARK HIG­GINS

As faith­ful as a Labrador, there has never been any­thing like the Aussie ute and there never will be again.

Once con­sid­ered just a tool of the trade, the hum­ble ute has evolved into a sports luxur y ve­hi­cle and a sta­tus sym­bol among tradies.

In our ‘Salute the Ute’ we’ve book­ended the first and last mod­els to leave the Holden fac­tor y.

Holden drove its first ute, the 50-216, based on the orig­i­nal 48-215 pas­sen­ger car, off the pro­duc­tion line in Jan­uar y 1951 and is driv­ing out of the fac­tor y for the last time this Oc­to­ber, in the SS-V Red­line ute, the hottest hom­bre ever to wear a Holden badge.

So, let’s take a look at the two and see how the hum­ble work­ing­man’s car has evolved.

When you see them to­gether two things strike you. One, how much the young pup dwarfs the old timer. And two, how el­e­gant the chrome makes the 1951 model look and how its elim­i­na­tion makes the SS-V look pos­i­tively mean.

The SS-V Red­line stands a shade over five me­tres long, nearly two me­tres wide, a tad un­der 1.5 me­tres tall and its wheel­base is near as dammit to three me­tres. The ‘Humpy’ as it was af­fec­tion­ately known for ob­vi­ous rea­sons is just 4.3 me­tres long, 1.7 me­tres wide, 1.56me­tres tall and sits on a 2.6-me­tre wheel­base

To­day’s me­chan­ics would love the sim­plic­ity and ease of work­ing on the 2.1-litre straight si x and three-speed man­ual gear­box of the orig­i­nal, which took an ag­o­nis­ing

“THE 6.2-LITRE V8 PACKS MORE PUNCH THAN DANNY GREEN LIFT THE BON­NET, THERE’S BARELY ROOM FOR A FEELER GAUGE IT’S LIKE WEAR­ING A SIZE 8 SHOE ON A SIZE 10 FOOT”

18.7 sec­onds to reach t he lega l limit due to its mod­est 45kW and 135Nm out­put.

Lift t he bon­net on t he Red­line and t here’s barely room for a feeler gauge. It’s like wear­ing a size 8 shoe when you have a size 10 foot, wit h ever y t hing so jammed in.

The 6.2-litre V8 t hat lurks un­der t he big plas­tic cover packs more punch than Danny Green and belts out 304kW and 570Nm sling­ing it to 100k m/h in 4.9 secs in eit her si x-speed man­ual or auto form.

That said, for a ll its brawn t he SS-V Red­line can only carr y a measly 630kgs due to its sports un­der­pin­nings, not shed­loads more than the 355 k ilo­grams of the ’51 model. And while t he SS-V Red­line’s cargo area looks like a big plas­tic bin, t he tim­ber pan­el­ing and metal strips in t he back of t he ’Olden are a work of art.

Un­der­neath the ’Olden shows the sim­plicit y of t he short- and long-arm in­de­pen­dent coil-spring front end and t he rear Hotchkiss drive wit h semi-el­lip­tic springs and sin­gle ex haust out let.

Then there is the worm and sec­tor t y pe steer­ing and 9-inch drum bra kes front and back.

Peek un­der the SS-V Red­line and you no­tice the huge Brembo bra ke ca lipers and la rge disc bra kes, t he slip dif f and la rge ex haust pipes a long wit h t he multi-link rear sus­pen­sion and fat sway bars t hat are part of t he top spec sports sus­pen­sion.

While t he ’51 of­fered no as­sis­tance what­so­ever, t he SS-V Red­line gets elec­tronic power-steer­ing to turn t he fat, low prof ile, 8.5-inch-wide, 19inch-di­am­e­ter a lloys. Many of to­day’s sports mo­tor­cy­cles have fat­ter t y res t hat t he ’51 ute which wore four-ply t y res on15x5-inch rims.

Open the door of the ’51 model and it’s as sparse as a tent, wit h just a big slip­per y v inyl bench seat to give you third de­gree burns or hy pother­mia, de­pend­ing on the sea­son. There’s match­ing v inyl on t he f loor t hough and wind up win­dows and a choke and a huge Bake­lite steer­ing wheel wit h t he gear lever pok­ing out one side of t he col­umn. There is no ra­dio, no vents, no… Well… Not much of any t hing rea lly.

Visua lly, t he SS-V Red­line in­te­rior is a lmost v isua l overk ill af ter step­ping out of t he old timer. There is fau x car­bon, gloss black and chrome trim­mings, sports seats and leat her steer­ing wheel, pad­dle shif ts, car­pet, cup hold­ers, multi-choice air con, power win­dows and hand­brake, USB ports and stor­age space be­hind t he elec­trica lly ad­justable and heated seats. It is hardly what you’d ca ll a work horse.

Sit­ting in t he SS-V Red­line you are con­fronted wit h a mul­ti­tude of gauges, sen­sors, an in­fo­tain­ment screen, Blue­tooth and even head up dis­play on the wind­screen. The ’51 dash looks naked wit h just a big speedo, small petrol gauge and warn­ing lamps for coolant temp, oil pres­sure and t he gen­er­a­tor.

Safet y fea­tures were prett y sparse back in the 50s and the crum­ple zone usu­ally ended up be­ing the oc­cu­pants. We’ve be­come a lot more safet y sav v y and the SS-V Red­line has anti-lock bra kes wit h elec­tronic bra ke­force and bra ke as­sist, trac­tion and sta­bilit y con­trols, la ne mon­i­tor­ing, adap­tive cruise con­trol, blind spot a lert, a re­vers­ing cam­era and a swag of airbags.

How­ever, af ter a ll t hese years, some things haven’t changed.

Both utes are of mono­coque con­struc­tion, bot h fea­ture a high-mounted cen­tra l stop­light and to start eit her t he 1951 model or t he 2017 model, you push a but­ton.

As with the demise of the ad­vanced Con­corde in av ia­tion cir­cles, light com­mer­cials seem to be head­ing back to the past– from coupe util­i­ties to cab/chas­sis pick­ups. Ex­act ly what t hey were be­fore a clever young bloke from Gee­long gave us our f irst ‘ute’ way back in 1934.

ABOVE El­e­gant chrome hub caps of the 50-216.

ABOVE Chrome gives the old-timer el­e­gance – the lack of it gives the young one pur­pose

ABOVE They share the lion badge, push but­ton start and mono­coque con­struc­tion.

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