History of the Holden Ute dates back to Chevy Utes

Before the famous Holden ute, there were several versions of Chevy utes made in Australia!

Side profile of the Australian built Chevrolet coupe utility or ute.

Only designed for Australia, the 1936 Chevrolet coupe utility. Differs from the USA pickup because a pickup has the cargo body separate from the passenger cabin.

USA version of the 1936 Chevrolet pickup

The very first origins of the Holden company in Australia date from 1856 when James Alexander Holden started a saddlery business in Adelaide, South Australia. The company continued on to coach building and in 1924 began supplying General Motors cars and trucks to the Australian market.

The world finance markets went into a dive in the great depression of the late 1920s and General Motors merged with the company to become General Motors-Holden’s Limted or GM-H.

The first ute wasn’t even a Holden or a Chevrolet. It was a Ford!

Early records have shown that a farmer’s wife in Victoria, Australia, sent a letter to the Ford factory asking for a car that could be comfortably driven to church and carry small loads during the week.

A designer at Ford Australia, Lew Bandt created a single body which had a coupe two door ford front and a cargo body built into the rear end, called a coupe utility, and released the first ever ‘ute’ in 1934.

First ever coupe utility or Australian ute 1934 Ford

The first ever Australian built ute was a 1934 Ford V8. Notice the cargo body is formed as part of the passenger cabin, the one defining difference between a ute and a pickup.

The first ever 1934 genuine Australian Ute or coupe utility would be quite a collector because there are very few left in the world. Have you seen any around?

Holden Ute FJ model the first ute to carry the Holden Ute name was the 48-215 which was officially named the first ever Australian designed and built Holden UteCan you see any resemblance between the Holden Ute in the image above and Chevy SSR below?
Chevrolet SSR very closely resembles Holden's first ute.To me, the Chevrolet SSR of 2003 to 2006 has many similar exterior design characteristics of the Australian FJ ute!

Ok it’s a huge difference, but what are the chances that, in some way, the designers of the SSR were somehow influenced by the Australian Holden Ute of 1953?

Chevrolet added modern conveniences including the metal convertible roof and the 2005 model SSR had the LS2 engine!


Chevrolet SSR resemblance to the Australian Holden UteThe SSR cargo area is way too close in design to Australia’s Holden Ute. Was it to be the next El Camino?

From the photo below, it’s interesting to note that the ‘shaved’ appearance of the rear corner panels was how these cars were produced in the early 1950s. In those days, Australian cars only had to have one tail light and a license plate light, which was recessed below the tailgate.

Holden FJ ute tray closely resembles Chev SSR

(Image courtesy of Street Machine magazine)

And so the famous Australian Holden Ute finally closed historically as the last true Holden Ute ever produced when General Motors shut down all production in 2017.

Image of the last Holden Ute ever produced in Australia

(Image supplied by Wheels)

Post Author: Alan O'Neill

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