THE HUMBLE UTILITY VEHICLE, UTE, OR
truck, depending on the global market, was designed as a workhorse. But with its twodoor cabin and work-or-play styling, it’s evolved into more than that, and not just a lifestyle vehicle, but one that appeals to all cultures, ages and genders. And with that kind of versatility and wide demographic comes popularity and marketing appeal, on top of public affection, so we’ve listed our top five most famous utes, from scale and promotional models to TV and movie stars.
5 SSANGYONG V8 UTE NZ
No, we don’t mean the one-make series based on the standard Actyon, but a oneoff built by Great Lakes Motor Distributors Director Deon Cooper. Basically an NZ V8 Super Tourer, the Ssangyong V8 racer runs a 7.0-litre V8 producing more than 400kw through a sequential six-sped gearbox and 18-inch slicks. The V8 ute is still a semi-regular at the track and competes in Endurance Championships.
4 TAMIYA SUBARU BRAT
Influencing a whole generation of ute buyers in a different way and a different size, giant Japanese model-maker Tamiya first produced the 1/10th radio-control Brat (aka Brumby) in 1983, based on the 1970s Subaru ute. With electric rear-wheel drive and four-wheel independent suspension, the Brat offered fantastic detail not just in the body, but also a driver figure. Rugged wheels and tyres all around finished off one of the RC icons of the 1980s, which was backed up by the Mud Blaster ‘monster truck’ Brat in 1989, and even a re-release of the original Brat in 2007.
3 RED BULL MINIS
An icon of the 2000s, Red Bull commissioned a run of these Mini Coopers around the world, for sampling, which converted a Mini Cooper into a totally functional ute - in an entirely different way. Red Bull created a tray, and on it mounted a large Red Bull can… which did nothing, practically. The insulated bin was mounted in the ‘tray’ and filled with ice, for Red Bull sampling. Being the marketing smarties Red Bull is, it was no coincidence that the vehicles were only ever driven by Uni-aged girls whose appearance was ‘rather appealing’.
2 BACK TO THE FUTURE SR5
Marty Mcfly’s dream vehicle wasn’t a DMC De Lorean, but a 1985 Toyota SR5 4x4 Xtra Cab. It shifted America’s view that a non-american ‘import’ truck could be cool, and though in 1985 the rest of the world probably wasn’t that into them, at least Toyota NZ could nod a knowing glance, given its Hilux was number one at the time.
1 TOP GEAR HILUX
The most enduring and endearing truck “in the world” (read in Jeremy Clarkson voice) has to be a certain red 1988 Toyota Hilux featured by BBC’S Top Gear. Marketed as ‘unbreakable’, it was smashed into a tree, left in the sea, hit with a wrecking ball, set on fire and dropped from the top of a demolished building. And with nothing but basic hand tools and a battery, still started and drove, earning itself fame and retirement within the halls of the Top Gear hangar studio.