The Beaut Ute - a pause for a commercial by Bill Sheehan
Click on an image for enlargement



The Utility or Pick-up as it is known in some countries, has always been popular in Australia. The very early days of motoring here saw tourers or roadsters being converted for commercial or farming uses.

In the late Twenties body-builders started to offer utility bodies on new chassis. Likewise Austin Seven Utes were offered alongside their choice of vans. Up until then all were adaptations of open body-tubs and it wasn't until the mid-thirties that the first hard-top utility was manufactured in numbers - Ford Australia being the world's first to do so with their V8 Coupe Ute. The photos here illustrate Austin Seven examples of the "Aussie Ute". The first shows not only the range of cars available from Austin Distributors at the Melbourne Motor Show, but includes 2 contemporary Ute bodies. In the second photo, construction details can be seen. Sadly, when I restored this 1929 model for a client almost all of the sheet metal and timber had to be replaced - unfortunately because the car had a great history. It was used from new by Austin Distributors as a Parts and Service pick-up and delivery unit and continued on well into the mid-Thirties giving sterling service. Apparently it accumulated a huge mileage. I managed to locate the ex-employee from their Service Department who had been allowed back then to take it home each night as his "Company car". He had some amusing tales to tell, although details dropped off sharply when his wife started listening!

Thirties model Sevens, including long wheelbase versions were offered with utility bodies. Our photo shows Lionel Howard Snr, one of our A7C members in Melbourne, seated in younger days amongst a fleet of soft-top Utes. The mid- and-late Thirties saw the production of "Ruby Utes" with hard tops and doors similar to the Coupes which were unique to Australia. The next photo shows youthful Anne and Peter Booth (both current members of our club) beside their pride and joy many years ago. Most Austin Seven enthusiasts would be familiar with the utilities built specially for the RAC in Victoria, as illustrated in the Wyatt Pictorial book. Our dealers supplied Utes to the State Electricity Commission at the time, not only or use by Servicemen and Linesmen, but their Meter-readers. These were built in batches of 6 or 7 and - curiously - not by outside professional body-builders but by Austin Distributors personnel, when their workshop was located in South Melbourne.

So endeth the Commercial - it is to be hoped that you've enjoyed this moving story, perhaps even been transported with delight?

Bill Sheehan (Photos too)