The origins of the Holden ute

Car lottery

The origins of the Holden ute

Since it first hit the road in 1951, the Holden ute has been an enduring symbol of hard work and the Aussie lifestyle. Initially designed for practicality, it has continuously adapted to the needs of its market, evolving over the years into the sporty, performance-oriented utility it is today.

The first ute
The concept of the utility began in Australia more than 80 years ago. The first ute was the ‘coupe utility’, based on a sedan, which sprang on the scene in the mid-1930s.
At this time, General Motors-Holden was tasked with building coupe utility bodies for other manufacturers such as Bedford, Chevrolet and Vauxhall. It also constructed Chevrolet utes for the Army as part of a mammoth WWII manufacturing effort.
Holden goes out on its own
When the war ended, GM-H turned its attention to producing an all-Australian car. The first famous Holden, the 48-215 (FX) sedan, was launched in 1948.
The Holden FX sedan, Australia’s first fully manufactured car model, soon became a favourite for most Australian car buyers. Yet with primary industry prospering, Holden found a need and demand to quickly develop a utility for the man on the land.
The Holden ute is born
Holden unveiled its very first ute in January 1951. Named the 50-2106 Coupe Utility, it was set to blow all of its rivals, Chevrolets and Vauxhalls included, to dust.
Holden had the ute formula down pat from the word go: good looking, affordable, versatile, rugged and durable. Just like the FX sedan, the new Holden ute could cruise around at 105 km/h all day, take steep hills in its stride and operate on a remarkable overall fuel economy of 9.4L/100km. Not only that, farmers discovered that it was perfect for rounding up sheep!
Numerous successive Holden ute models, from the much-loved FJ on to the high performing models of today, have gone on to make their own colourful and character-filled contributions to the Australian way of life.
The ute today
After nearly 60 years of evolution – from workhorse to thoroughbred – today's Holden ute is a genuine Aussie automotive icon. This enduring legend remains linked to its heritage by the lion emblem proudly displayed on every model and the same attributes of versatility, reliability and great drive-ability.
Today’s Holden ute is about speed, performance, comfort and great design. A range of options are available with a great deal of buyers favouring high performance six-cylinder and thundering six-speed V8s.
Tradesmen or ‘tradies’ are predominantly the purchasers of utilities while the man on the land still uses his model to get around in comfort.
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