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A Show Without Utes? That's Un-Australian!

Mazda BT-50, with extra beef!
At last year's Australian International Motorshow in Sydney, amongst an underwhelmingly small collection of new product launches and concepts were the international launches of two new models: Ford's Ranger, and its twin the Mazda BT-50. Accompanying them at the show was a Toyota Hilux driven to the North Pole by TopGear, a Rally-Raid Isuzu D-Max and Volkswagen's new Amarok in full Dakar Rally support vehicle liverly. That's right, the most interesting vehicles at last year's AIMS were utes.

New Toyota Hilux. Looks quite a lot like, um, the old Hilux.
Back in July I attended this year's show, held in Melbourne for the first time under the AIMS banner. While the show itself is well and truly old news, I couldn't help but post a few words on a particular observation of mine regarding the balance of new vehicle content at this year's show. Despite a wave of new consumer models and concepts at this year's show, it seems it wouldn't be an Australian motor show without a good selection of utes on offer. Which makes sense, as between taking rides on kangaroos and chucking a few shrimp on the barbie, we Aussies all drive utes. Anyway, stereotypes aside, there is a resonable market for such trayed vehicles in Australia, so it's not really suprise that they feature at our motor shows.

Holden's new Colorado in concept form.
Kicking off the selection of utes at this year's show was Holden's new Colorado, a welcome replacement to the current ageing model. Mazda showed a production version of the BT-50, including a model fitted with an optional airbag-compatible steel bullbar. Ford once again joined the motor show ute muster, dislpaying the top-of-the-range Wildkat version of its Ranger.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak. But does it come with the surfboard?
Meenwhile, Toyota showed off a revised version of the Hilux, and Volkswagen displayed its now-on-sale Amarok, which seems to attract quite a bit of attention. Even the Shannon's auction vehicles displayed outside the main exhibition hall featured some tray-backed vehicles of not, with the award for the most interesting going to a 1956 Bentley ute, custom built from a Bentley S1 Saloon.

A Volkswagen Amarok being perused by a large number of well-dressed tradies.
There is no doubt that utes have a special place in Australian automotive culture, even for those of us who don't drive one (and in my case never have... how un-Australian). Still however, I can't help but find their infiltration of our motor shows both this year and last just a little amusing.

Want a ute with little more style? How about a Bentley?


  1. I have no major issue with the release of these new utes apart from the fact they just aren't what they used to be. The old hilux's were hardened vehicles that were over engineered to ensure lasting toughness and life. These new cars while driving a fair bit nicer and with a few more features really lost the whole ideal of a work vehicle made to work.

    Where is my old hilux, I'll take one of those anydays over these technologically spec'd immitations.


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