Unique Ute: 1950 Ford Prefect Utility

Australians are nothing if not inventive, and it was this inventiveness that gave the world the coupe utility. The owner of this 1950 Ford Prefect Utility, or Ute, is correct when he says that it was a model that was unique to the Australian automotive industry. This one has come a long way from home to find itself in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, where it is listed for sale here on eBay. Really spirited bidding has pushed the car along to $7,100 in a No Reserve auction. An indication of just how much interest the Ute has generated can be gauged by the fact that there are currently 226 people who are watching the listing.

The Prefect was imported from the UK into Australia in CKD form, which significantly reduced the import duty on the car. It was then assembled by Ford Australia. For the Ute, Ford Australia manufactured a significant amount of sheet metal to create the vehicle. As someone who was raised in rural Australia, I can definitely state that these were not a hugely common sight on our roads. Therefore, I have little doubt that the owner’s claim about this being the only operational example in the US would probably be right. The body, frame, and the floors in this car appear to be in really nice condition. The pale blue paint gives the car a great look, while the hinged windshield is as close as you would get to air conditioning in one of these little classics. The original timber in the bed has been nicely refinished, and while the vehicle isn’t perfect, it certainly seems to be a solid and clean car.

There are a lot of aftermarket features inside the Ford, but the interior does present very nicely. The finish on the dash appears to be original, but the gauges have been upgraded with new items with a period look to them. It has also been fitted with turn signals, and while the wheel is an aftermarket item, the original is also included in the sale. I think that the seat is original, but every upholstered surface appears to have been renewed, along with the carpet. One feature that it lacks is a heater, so this would need to be rectified if the car was to be driven in colder climates. However, there are a few companies that can provide reproduction items designed to fit the Anglia of this era, and fitting one of those to this car shouldn’t be difficult.

If you are searching for originality in a vehicle like this, then that is one area where the Ute misses out. The original 1,172cc flathead 4-cylinder engine was by no means a fireball and produced a mere 20hp. This power found its way to the rear wheels via a 3-speed manual transmission. Rather optimistically, Ford fitted the rear end of the Ute with 10-leaf springs, but you could be pretty sure that if you loaded the car up to take advantage of the perceived load capacity that this could provide, then forward progress would be pretty slow. The owner has rectified this by removing the original drive-train and fitting a 1,500cc Triumph 4-cylinder engine, matching 4-speed manual transmission, and an MG rear end. He says that it is still no fireball, but performance would have to have been vastly improved with these upgrades. The brakes have also come in for some serious attention, with a full hydraulic system having replaced the original mechanical items. The front end has been rebuilt, and the car has been rewired to a 12-volt system. The owner admits that it will need a good tune-up now, but it looks like it is nearly ready to drive and enjoy.

This Ford Prefect Ute is a really cool old car, and even though it is no longer 100% original, it is still a car that harks back to a simpler time. At a mere 12½’  in total length, it is tiny when you compare it to the majority of commercial vehicles available at that point in time. If it was still in Australia, I would be saying that someone needs to grab it, because it would be a chance to own a very rare vehicle. The fact that it is in the US means that it is virtually unique. Apparently, there is one other example kicking around, but this has been completely disassembled. If you are looking for a classic that will really stand out on a cruise, or at a Cars & Coffee, this is just about the perfect vehicle.

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Comments

  1. GuernseyPagoda Member

    Very professional and honest write up from the owner. Sounds like a really personable and reasonable seller. Even put in comments from another owner and some of his own money outlay. I’m sure that he’d be a pleasure to buy from. Hope he gets his asking, and more importantly, I hope he remains in good health.

    Like 7
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    I have to admit that it took a while for this body style to grow on me but now that it has I want one. You certainly wouldn’t see another one at the car show. I wish the vendor and buyer good luck.

    Like 4
    • Brakeservo

      The Anglia front end sheet metal bolts on and transforms the look.

  3. Brakeservo

    Having collected a number of Enfo’s, I’ve actually seen several other running examples here in USA. I loved driving mine with all the original running gear, and used within their limitations they are great fun! I am not interested in this hot rod though.

  4. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    This little Ute is too cute. I really like it, I would bid on this if I could justify a use for it. But alas! I cannot, it needs to be garage kept and I just don’t have the room. I hope it goes to someone who will take good care of it.
    God bless America

    Like 2
  5. robert kirk

    The Leyland 1500 motor was a huge mistake IMO. ANY A series engine would have been a better choice the best being a 1275. The 1500 Leylands were produced at the nadir of British car manufacturing and were known to catch fire unloading at the US dealerships, albeit this looks like an entry level solo ZS carb 1500 possibly from a sedan. Huge cooling issues in the USA as well.

    Must admit the UTE is pretty cool and way far ahead of the Ranchero and El Camino. I might be a player had the vehicle been left as from the factory.

    Like 3
    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

      Great info Robert, I think I might have stayed with Ford using a 2.3L.

      Like 3
  6. robert kirk

    The mainstay of British Ford was the smaller 60HP flat head 8. THAT is how I’d have gone vs ditching the OE motor.

    A 136 cu in (2.2 L) V8-74[18] version was introduced in the United States in 1937. With 2.6 by 3.2 in (66 by 81 mm) bore and stroke and 6.6:1 compression,[2] the engine was rated 60 hp (45 kW) and 94 lb⋅ft (127 N⋅m).[18] The designation changed again in 1939, to V8-922A, but the specifications remained the same.[18] It was produced in Europe in 1935 and 1936, and was used in the many standard Ford vehicles based on the car platform of the era. It was not very popular with U.S. buyers who were used to the 85 hp (63 kW) cars. Redesignated V8-82A in 1938, V8-922A in 1939, and V8-022A in 1940, compression, power, and torque remained unchanged.[18] The engine was very popular as a powerplant for midget race cars after World War II. This engine is most commonly referred to as the “60 horse” flathead, or the V8-60.[2] It was replaced by the 226 straight-6 in the 1941 Fords, though it would continue to be used after the war in the French Ford Vedette and the British Ford Pilot.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_flathead_V8_engine

    Like 2
    • Little_Cars

      Other than midget racing, the 60-horse get stuck with a reputation as being a slug by the early V8 fanatics pretty much. Probably because our cars were dimensionally so much bigger and heavier.

      Like 1
  7. Del

    Very cool.

    Aussies knew how to build these, right up to the collapse of Holden.

    Like 1
  8. Chris Londish Member

    A great starter my Dad taught my Mum how to drive in one of these back in the late 40’s and a hotrodder mate and his brother put a Customline engine into a panel van version

    Like 1
  9. Andy

    A late ’70s-early ’80s Corolla engine would probably add a little zip and a lot of reliability to this little rig, if you aren’t insisting on Ford power. But going from one British powerplant to another seems like a lateral move, even if there’s a horsepower gain.

  10. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Nice……….

  11. 86_Vette_Convertible

    It is cute, not too practical for me but still cute.

  12. lc

    Well, there are a lot of watchers per say for this rig; however, when I had my 81 Ford Durango pickup listed on Ebay, a converted Fairmont Futura by National Coach Works in LA, I recall having weeell over 300 watchers. And it had a 3.0 inline six. If it didn’t need work, I would have keeped it. I sold it, and bought me an El Camino instead.

  13. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Fair deal in my book. Ended:Oct 14, 2019 , 12:34PM
    Winning bid:US $10,269.59
    [ 70 bids ]

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