We got a lot of awesome stuff from Australia, including (but not limited to) the electric drill, pacemaker, Wi-Fi, and Paul Hogan.
But a lot of gearheads might say the coolest thing to come from the land down under was the “Ute.”
Sure, American automakers had built early versions of pickup trucks before, but the notion of seamlessly marrying a passenger car body to a truck bed was born in Australia.
Short for “coupe utility,” Utes blended the on-road comfort of a car with the utility of a truck—and were an instant hit with Australian farmers.
Seeing a potential market in the U.S., Ford brought the Ute concept stateside as the Ranchero in 1957.
In North America, the Ute enjoyed some success and the Ranchero spawned a series of competitors, namely the El Camino and Dodge Rampage.
Sadly, the Ranchero ceased production in 1979 and its Ute-inspired followers mostly disappeared from American roads during the 1980s.
This particular Ranchero is a 1957 edition, easily identifiable (like the Fairlane and Skyliner) by its single headlights. It rode on Ford’s full size passenger car platform before moving to the smaller Falcon-based chassis in 1960.
We think this one’s wearing the hood (with scoop) from a later year Fairlane 300/500, maybe 1958? We’re not entirely sure, so let us know what you see in the comments below.
Though the Ute is now a rare sight in America, it continues to be a popular ride in Australia—so much so that the design itself has become synonymous with the country that inspired it.
And, if the Mad Max series is any indication, the “coupe-utility” will survive well into our dystopian future.