“THE FORD COUPE UTILITY REACHED SHOWROOMS IN MAY 1934”
Ford Australia’s production had commenced years earlier on 1 July 1925 with the Model T. In 1929 new presses were installed in the Dalgety plant. The company had its own tool shop. In 1930 it produced a new Model A, three inches longer than its US counterpart as Australian salesmen had requested greater interior space.
The Model B with the 65 horsepower side-valve Ford V8 engine was released on 25 August 1932, just months after the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened. By now the local content of Geelong-built Fords – vehicles were built in other states, too – was approaching 75 per cent.)
Historian Norm Darwin says that Bandt’s coupé utility was the first Ford totally developed by the newly formed Design Group. The concept was to take one of the new V8 coupes and add a pick-up bed. The pick-up bed, side panel and cab rear side were one pressing with bolt-on rear mudguards.
This provided much cleaner styling and increased the interior load area as the sides were much wider than the US style pickups. Australian utilities had the wheel arches within the rear section that gave an irregular shaped f loor whereas the US versions had a rectangular f lat f loor inside the arches.
The Ford coupé utility reached showrooms in May 1934. Darwin reckons GM-H followed suit and had utes for both Chevrolet and Bedford late the same year. This doesn’t gel with Hartnett’s dating of his Gundagai trip to November. Perhaps ps it was some months earlier (he arrived from Britain in March 1934)?
Regardless, Hartnett’s claim to have developed the concept is completely wrong.
Later two Geelong-built coupe utilities were despatched to Ford in Dearborn. Lew Bandt accompanied them. Recalling the trip, he said: Mr Ford called in his men from Texas. They took one look at it and asked: ‘What’s that? ’ Mr Ford replied: ‘it’s a kangaroo chaser’ and told them he was about to build a model there.”
Significantly, when GM-H produced its original Holden, the coupé utility version – the definitive Australian vehicle – soon followed.
ABOVE In 2015 the NGV of Victoria featured a barn find ‘34 as part of its ‘Shifting Gear’ exhibition celebrating ‘Design, Innovation and the Australian Car’.