Ford Model B-304 Ute

To many collectors, the dual-purpose, car-based utility vehicle was born with the Ford Ranchero of the late 1950s. Its origins, however, date back to the early 1930s, when Ford of Australia began development of the Utility or “Ute”. 

At the time, Australian banks were reportedly more inclined to grant loans to ranchers for the purchase of farm trucks rather than passenger cars. In addition, according to legend, a rancher’s wife, who had had quite enough of riding in the farm truck, petitioned Ford of Australia to build a vehicle that could haul feed and small livestock, yet carry the family in car-like comfort to church on Sunday. The letter moved along through several departments, and finally reached the Design Department, staffed by one person – a young Lewis Bandt.

Bandt quickly sketched a vehicle based on Ford’s current passenger-car platform that combined a roadster-type passenger compartment with a cargo bed at the rear, with additional internal bracing for strength. The resulting Utility, or “Ute”, was an immediate success, and while the roadster only carried on through 1938, the coupe variant continued until 1958, when it was replaced by the American-designed Ranchero.

The Ute’s utility, however, came at a price, and very few early examples of this innovative vehicle remain today. In fact, the 1932 Model B-304 “Ute” offered here is likely the only intact example in existence. One of just 28 originally built, it was imported to the United States from an Australian banana plantation in 1968.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2009 at the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.

50hp, 200 cu. in inline four-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf spring, ¾-floating rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf spring, and four-wheel, mechanically-actuated internal-expanding brakes. Wheelbase: 106".

Source: RM Auctions

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