To celebrate Australia Day this week, we’re looking at some of the best inventions to ever come out of our sunburnt country. Today, we pay homage to Lewis Bandt, who responded to the request of a farmer’s wife to create the world’s first ute.
The story sounds like an urban legend: In 1932, a Gippsland farmer’s wife sent Ford a request for a revolutionary new car design: “Why don’t you build people like us a vehicle to go to church in on a Sunday, and which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays?” she asked. The job of designing a car of this versatility fell on the shoulders of 22 year old engineer Lewis Bandt, and two years later, the first Ford ute was released.
The original ute had a wheel base of 112 inches, a five foot five inch tray that could carry 1200 pounds (550kg). The car went on to become a huge success, and was exported to the US and dubbed ‘kangaroo chasers’.
Sadly, Bandt’s invention was also part of his final moments as he was killed in a collision with a sand truck. He was driving a vintage 1934 Ford Ute he had rebuilt for himself. Fortunately, Bandt’s legacy lives on with utes owned and operated by tradespeople and farmers all around the world.