True-blue beaut ute

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I’VE never seen Santa travel in such style. Standing upright on the back of an unrestored 1933 Ford Roadster-turned ute, the merry man in red turned the heads of children and adults alike when he arrived at the Murchison Carols by Candlelight on the back of this particularly beaut beast.

 

Draped in tinsel and completely covered with rust and dust, Santa’s entrance felt so beautifully and distinctly rural-Australia, I could’ve cried. Audible gasps of excitement could be heard amongst the carollers as they inspected the vehicle. For a moment, it was genuinely hard to tell if the Ute would steal all the attention from Santa himself.

Rushworth mechanic, Andrew MacKay, aka ‘Jed Hayback,’ purchased the 1933 Ford Roadster in March 2004 after it had been cut up into a ute. The four-cylinder vehicle can only travel up to 80km/h but to Jed, that doesn’t matter at all. What’s of foremost importance is that the solar panel works, to power the fridge and can crusher, of course. It’s quite surprising that this thing still runs, what with the severe external disrepair, but the fact that the engine works so well is just a testament to Jed’s handiwork as a mechanic.

The ‘unrestored’ vehicle is a rusty mess boldly beaming with charismatic exuberance. It’s got this filthy, punk-like, Outback Australian attitude. This vehicle is likely best suited to expansive and dusty spaces, empty acreage with kangaroo and tumbleweed freely roaming. Actually, Rushworth feels like an extremely appropriate home for this Ford, what with the regions lengthy and interesting history and dry, expansive farmlands.

It’s worth noting that these kinds of vehicles were invited in Australia in the 1930s. A farmer’s wife from Gippsland wrote to the managing director of Ford at the time, Hubert French, explaining that they cannot afford both a car and a truck. The farmers needed a car to attend church on Sundays and a truck to take pigs to market on Monday; fair enough. Their letter was passed on to a young design engineer who executed the vision for the Ford T ‘Buckboards’ and ‘Utility Roundabouts,’ world-famous vehicles of which Jed’s hodgepodge beast is absolutely inspired by.

At the end of the Murchison Christmas Carols, Jed and Santa returned to the rusty ute to bid farewell and Happy Holidays to all. With watery eyes, we watched as Santa sailed off into the sunset, probably unsafe unharnessed on the back cab of Jed’s Ford, a satisfying little slice of humble, wholesome, rural Australiana.