Down Under Truck: 1958 Ford Mainline Ute

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Unfortunately there’s only one picture in the ad for this unusual (in the US) 1958 Ford Mainline “Ute”, originally from Australia. It’s currently found in City of Orange, California and is advertised here on craigslist for $1,999.

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I found this factory brochure image on macsmotorcitygarage.com. I was surprised to find that the utes were made in Australia on imported convertible chassis (for the extra cross-bracing). As the Mainlines were manufactured from 1952-on, and utes in general from 1934-on, they obviously pre-date both El Caminos and Rancheros, although they are certainly the same concept of a combination car and truck.

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The seller included this picture in the ad as well; this shot is notable for the “star” at the center of the front grille, which gave the 1958’s their nickname. The seller says they have all of the chrome in NOS condition in boxes, but also says the chrome is re-done. Either way, it should look nice.

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And as you can see from this one, pictured on brakehorsepower.com.au, they can really look spectacular with all the chrome installed. The seller states that there are only 8 in the US; that alone is pretty neat, but having a usable classic that looks like this would be really great! Let us know if you’re interested, and if any of our “down under” readers can tell us more about utes, please do!

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Comments

  1. JW454

    Given the chance, I believe these would have sold just as well here in the USA. The Fords and Chevrolets in this style did reasonably well for themselves. I often wonder why it wasn’t tried. Maybe too much concern of hurting the small truck market?

    • Jason Houston

      Back in the days of Utes, Rancheros and El Caminos, there was no such thing as a small truck market, at least in the U.S. The El Camino failed due to being platformed on those dreadful 1959-1960 GM bodies and didn’t become successful until several years later when applied to a more mainstream body application. But the ‘Camino outlasted the Ranchero by seven more model-years, by which time both had become gangly awkward in both appearance and utility.

  2. Howard A Member

    Looks like quite a project. Australia ( and Canada) always had such different cars than we were used to seeing. I’m surprised they still had the “old” style Fords, and not the newer ’57 ( ’58) type. This appears to have a GMC front suspension, as I recognize those wheels off my Sonoma. Cool truck, but a lot of work ahead.

    • Bill McCoskey

      Howard – Like many US auto manufacturers, once they were set to introduce the new models, they often sent the tooling for the discontinued models to South America, South Africa, or Australia. With slight to major modifications [like the ‘Ute] to suite local needs, they made vehicles using older tooling for many years. The Brits did the same; the 1950’s BMC sedans continued to be made in India [as a Hindustan] until just a few years ago! Kaiser shut down American operations in early 1955, & sent the tooling to Argentina where they continued to make Kaiser Carabella cars for many years. I’m enclosing a few pics of a 1960 Kaiser Carabella at a recent KFOC national meet. It’s basically a 1955 Kaiser Special. Note the sign in the rear window explaining the car was the engineering test prototype! The trunk emblem has the 3 letters IKA instead of KAISER. [Translation; Industries Kaiser Argentina]

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Whoops – just found out pics get published one per message, so here is the IKA badge.

        Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Here is a pic of the Kaiser Carabella

        Like 1
  3. Jim

    If anyone has interest in this and needs a set of eyes, I live about 20 minutes away and would be happy to give a condition report.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Jim, that’s pretty cool you’d do that. It seems pretty self-explanatory though.

  4. gord

    wonder if it is RHD (i expect it is) and has a valid vin plate and US title?
    though you could always put in another drivetrain, axles… things like glass, and misc stuff like wiper arms, tailgates, taillights, would be a concern to me, very interested but of course i am on the east side (ontario canada in fact)

  5. Roland

    The 1958 ute…Down Under did a lot of strange things. The grille is a 1955 Canadian Meteor..wonder what other odd things went into this ’58??

  6. Bobsmyuncle

    I recall reading that a RHD conversion is easy but sorry the details elude me.

  7. brakeservo

    Of course it would have been built RHD!! And so what?? All of my cool fun cars here in USA are RHD also – no different than driving a LHD except for that seat to the left of you. No legal or insurance restrictions in America either – but sometimes people ask me incredulously “is that LEGAL??” and I reply,trying to look furtively and sound surreptitious as I say in a hushed tone – “Only if you remember to stop when it’s red and go when it’s green!”

    • Bobsmyuncle

      To be fair it makes passing unsafe…

      • brakeservo

        Not at all – use common sense, just like in a LHD car and you’re ok. Most drivers in front of you weave from one side of the lane to the other – you’re always afforded a good view if you’re smart – which includes maintaining some distance from the car in front of you anyway – and this gives you ‘bonus’ room for accelerating around the slow poke. No, I don’t pull up to some guy’s rear bumper and expect to be able to immediately pass – I lay back until the right time then blow by!

  8. Bobsmyuncle

    “Not at all”? Okay.

  9. Allan Kay

    Over here in Oz i have a 56 Victoria LHD, it didn’t take long at all to get used to it. Also have an Aussie 52 Mainline RHD.

  10. brakeservo

    Twas my reply to your “To be fair it makes passing unsafe…” ‘cuz it doesn’t.

  11. John

    I was just in Daytona for the Turkey Rod run and there was a nice GM Ute for sale in the car corral. Looked like a fun vehicle. Of course I am a fan of those car trucks as Im on my third Ranchero.

  12. rusty

    The thing with the Aussie Motor industry in the early years is we got imported pommy and yanky cars and built well back ute bodies for them in the factory..often times the overseas lineup didnt have a ute. Sometimes when they did say like like the Austin A40 it only had a more truck like back [pickup] but we still built a wellback version.

    Its what we did [and needed]..And all of them were fully integrated into the body as if the parent company had built the panels.

    Eventually utes became common and numerous in the home grown industry [Ford and Holden]. Hey we even had an Austin 1800 ute [who would ever thought one of these Austins becoming a ute except us] but Leyland Australia needed something to compete against Holden and Fords success with utes. Ironically Aussie utes are less and less as Japanese and Asian utes really have a strangle hold on the ute sales. With the end of Ford and Holden manufacturing Aussie cars its probably the end of Aussie utes.

    These Mainline utes [and chev utes] were fairly common especially left abandoned on farms but now not so because it wasnt till after the 80’s that people had decided utes were worth restoring before that commercial vehicles were not as popular for restorations. Unfortunately since little interest up till then many had disappeared.

  13. Nigel Smith

    We only got speedo, temp and fuel gauges for our instrument cluster. This is for both utes and sedans. The Aussie 58-59 utes had no stainless windscreen surround or courtesy light switches for the doors, no Ford script on the glove box, though the V8 badge was on the glove box door. The only dash knob to have a bezel surround was the cigarette lighter. Our dash was based on the 56 American Ford. We had our own Australian radio and heater controls if fitted originally otherwise there was a flat plate in the dash. There was a badge on the door frame indicating the maximum capacity of the load carried. The 58/59 were the first Australian utes to have rear indicators fitted. The ute’s diff had a different ratio from the sedans. The utes had 16 inch wheels while the sedans had 15 inch wheels.

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