“THE FORD COUPE UTIL­ITY REACHED SHOW­ROOMS IN MAY 1934”

Unique Cars - - AUSSIE ORIGINAL -

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’.

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