Awesome custom build of Australian-market Utility Coupe AKA “Ute.” 4.6 liter Ford V8, automatic transmission, Corvette suspension and brakes, beautiful leather interior. Practical yet sporting, comfortable but fast, the Ute does everything well and nothing else attracts this much attention on the road!
Repatriated to Canada by a Canadian service member, this cool Ford has enjoyed two rather significant makeovers. The first gave it the Ford 4.6 liter V8 engine and drivetrain, along with the Corvette suspension, while the second added the trick bodywork, including the sectioned and decked hood that gives it that aggressive profile and the lovely two-tone paint job. Finish quality is excellent, even for a build that’s probably approaching voting age and the condition today is a testament to the workmanship that went into it. The purple pearl over copper paint scheme still looks fantastic, attracting attention while emphasizing the Ute’s split personality. Of course, all the usual modifications were included, such as shaving all the original chrome, Frenching the headlights, and molding the rear fenders into the bed sides. Add in features like the custom power-actuated hard-shell tonneau cover for the bed, a Vee’d windshield, and custom roll pans fore and aft, and you get one great-looking mini truck that will stand out at any event.
The pros at Portage Trim used yards of buttery smooth butterscotch leather wrapped around custom bucket seats to give it a very OEM look and feel inside. The instrument panel is from the same Ford Thunderbird that donated the SOHC V8 (don't worry about the mileage, which is since the donor T-Bird was new—this vehicle probalby has 10,000 miles on the build), while the rest is pure custom, from the tilt column to the Budnik billet aluminum wheel to the center console that houses the Kenwood AM/FM/CD stereo, OEM Ford ventilation controls, and a pair of cupholders just for cruising. Sculpted door panels extend the dash so it seems to wrap around the passengers and there’s a custom headliner that is beautifully fitted—this was an extremely expensive interior!
For reliability, the 4.6 liter Ford V8 was transplanted in virtually stock condition, and with 210 horsepower and about 300 pounds of torque on tap, it’s plenty punchy in the lightweight Ute. The working bits of the engine are cleverly hidden under a custom cover that was painted to match the bodywork, but the finned cam covers are still visible, a nice touch. You’ll note even the OEM airbox was retained, mounted to the side of the engine bay, and all the controls are Ford, so service is easy and it starts and runs like a factory-built piece. There’s a massive Howe aluminum radiator up front, cooled by an equally massive electric fan, and power steering and brakes are standard equipment. Turn the key and it starts instantly, idles properly, and with a deep well of V8 torque on tap, it feels quick on the street yet settles down on the highway. If you need a street rod built for the road, this is a fantastic choice.
This Ute doesn’t handle like any pickup you’ve driven, however, because the entire suspension was transplanted from a C4 Corvette, including the transverse leaf springs, rack-and-pinion steering, and giant 4-wheel disc brakes. Handling is crisp but ride quality is surprisingly supple, suggesting a lot of tuning was involved to get the balance exactly right. Ford’s 4-speed automatic transmission offers a deep overdrive for easy highway cruising, and it’s linked to the Corvette’s Dana 44 rear end with what feel like 3.42 gears inside, so it’s nimble and quick off the line. The original frame has been heavily reinforced and is now as rigid as a railroad bridge, and the custom exhaust system tucks up inside the frame for excellent ground clearance despite the lowered stance. Clever details include charging posts and a shut-off switch for the hidden battery, the quad outlet exhaust with glasspack-style mufflers, and even a functioning emergency brake. Nice! Custom Centerline billet aluminum wheels give it an awesome stance and are wrapped in staggered 205/40/17 front and 255/35/18 rear performance radials.
As we’ve discovered, everyone loves the Ute. We’ve had other Australian Utes before, but nothing that approaches this car’s level of detail and execution. A no-compromises build that cost several times the asking price, it’s a great opportunity to own a totally unique rod that stands out without being extreme. It’s fast yet comfortable, sporty yet practical, and everybody has questions when they see it on the road. If you like that combination, you’re going to love this Ute. Call today!
For more details and photos, please visit www.HarwoodMotors.com
Harwood Motors always recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections of any vehicle in our inventory prior to purchase.