This is not a pickup. Yes, it’s a cab and a load bed, but it. Is. Not. A. Pickup. At least, it’s not in Australia, the land from which this unusual Zephyr originates. To them, it’s a ‘Ute’, which is a sort of mash-up between a car and a truck. It’s that former element that’s important here, the car bit. Because when the ute – which is a name derived from ‘coupe utility’ – first arrived, it had to be a car and a pickup. Not a pickup that could do car things. It had to be more. It had to have the looks, the drive and all the niceties that you’d find in the car from which the ute was derived.
Why not just buy a pickup? We hear you ask. Well, the origins of the ute are said to stem from 1930s Australia. A frustrated farmer’s wife allegedly wrote to Ford to ask for a vehicle that could take her to church on Sunday, but then take livestock to market on Monday. Ford listened, and the ute was born. Over the coming decades a keen market developed, and Ford in particular was, as the originator, determined to satisfy it, hence the Zephyr you see here. Ford’s ‘three graces’ (the Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac) were popular cars and as it would later turn out, popular utes, too.
The ute you’re looking at here probably hasn’t transported any livestock for a long time. That’s a good thing, because pigs and chickens would be littering the streets if it did. You see, this ute has waved goodbye to its 2.5 inline-six, and now plays host to a 5.0 V8 from a Ford Falcon mated up to a four-speed automatic ‘box. This is one very fast load-lugger indeed.
Interestingly, there are other Falcon elements too. The interior is now full of the steering wheel and centre console for example. Some would say this detracts from the originality of the Zephyr, but if you ask us, it just means things will be easier to maintain in the future. Plus, the seller is keen to point out that it can all be removed without issue or damage, as can the digital dash (the seller still has the original clocks to go back in, should you wish). So it’s not like all the originality has been cut out of it. And items like the BMW leather seats serve to make it a bit more comfortable and a little bit safer. Would you really want to be sliding around on a bench seat while trying to control that 5.0? Exactly
Built by Hopper’s Stoppers in Australia, no expense seems to have been spared in this ute’s creation. The trim, the engine, the wheels, the tyres, the suspension, the brakes – they’ve all been reworked or upgraded. Coming from Australia also means that rust isn’t really a problem, so the body is arrow-straight and free of any dodgy repairs. And being black, there’s no way to hide such things anyway. Black paint shows every imperfection.
There’s no escaping the fact that a car like this is going to be something of an acquired taste here on UK soil. That said, it is a rare and intriguing take on a classic car we all know and love. Plus, while we wouldn’t suggest you use it on a building site, there is the inescapable fact that this Zephyr is infinitely more practical than most. Just imagine rolling up to B&Q in this! You’d be the talk of the trade isle! To be that unique, the £22,500 asking price really isn’t that extreme. We would.