Did you ever wonder what happened to the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino?
(Unless you're of a 'certain age' you might have no idea what I'm talking about...)
With the car-i-fication of trucks and the truck-i-fication of cars over the past 30 years or so, you might have thought that a passenger car-based pick-up truck might be just the ticket.
Not so's you'd notice.
Volkswagen gave it a shot with their Rabbit pick-up, as did Dodge with the Omni-based Rampage.
I guess the Subaru Baja sort-of qualifies too. Chevy Avalanche and Honda Ridgeline aren't far off, but those are really SUV-based, rather than car-based.
But with very few exceptions, these all shared one attribute - nobody cared.
Here in Australia, however, the concept carries on in the form of the 'ute', short for 'utility'. They aren't as prevalent as they once were, but you still see a lot of them.
Actually it doesn't just 'carry on', it seems to have been invented here.
It may be an urban legend, but Ford's story and they're sticking to it is that back in 1932, a farmer's wife wrote to Ford complaining about riding to church in her husband's farm truck, which, needless to say, was a bit, er, ripe.
Apparently, banks would finance farm trucks but not cars. People could typically only afford one vehicle, so a truck it was.
"Why can't you make a vehicle which can take the pigs to market on Saturday, and us to church on Sunday?" she wrote.
Maybe there were no PR people to shuffle this letter onto in those days; in any event it led Ford to graft a pick-up box onto a passenger-car chassis, reinforce it appropriately, and thus was born, officially, the 'coupe-utility'.
My local sources say the true nick-name for these things - what the people who buy them (largely in the rural north) call them - is 'tilly', suggesting a marketing tie-in with a certain Canadian hat-maker is but one letter and some dangling corks attached to the brim away...
Only southerners and marketing types call them 'utes'.
The concept became wildly popular, and major competitors soon followed suit. The one shown here is a fairly new General Motors Holden, gussied up well beyond any pretense of being a farm truck.
Today, a big chunk of the 'ute-tilly' business is being taken away by SUV-like pick-ups, akin to our Ford Explorer Sport pick-up thing.
But they do live on.
I have yet to find out if the Aussie utes spawned their mid-'50s North American cousins or if, like much of Australia's flora and fauna, the North American models evolved separately.
Guess I'm gonna have to Google that...