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Early Ford V8 - Coupe Utility

1934 Coupe Utility - designed in Australia by Lew Bandt

In mid-1933 the Managing Director of Ford Motor Company of Australia, Hubert French, received a letter from a farmer's wife in Gippsland, Victoria. She wrote "My husband and I can't afford a car and a truck but we need a car to go to church on Sunday and a truck to take the pigs to market on Monday. Can you help?"

French passed the letter on to a young design engineer who had joined Ford only a few years previously. Lew Bandt was just 23 years old but was already showing a flair for design for which he was to become quite famous until he retired in 1975.

Until this time many manufacturers and vehicle body builders had constructed wooden or metal "utility" bodies on car chassis. Henry Ford's Model T was a particular favourite and Ford T "Buckboards" and "Utility Runabouts" were to be found on farms and delivering goods in towns and cities throughout the world.

Where Lew Bandt's design was different was that he designed his Ford utility based on the coupe (two-passenger, steel-panelled, glass-windowed car) with an integrated steel-panelled load carrying section at the rear. The cabin was the same as the two door Model 40A Ford five window coupe but, instead of the rear luggage compartment or "dicky seat" Lew added a wooden-framed utility section with steel outer panels welded to the coupe body to form a smooth sided vehicle.

He completed his original design in October 1933 and produced a prototype for testing. By 23 January 1934 he had final drawings and the new ute went into production and sold the first units in 1934.

The smart new ute had a V8 engine and three-speed manual gearbox and suspension was by a transverse leaf spring with shock absorbers at the front and heavy duty semi-elliptic rear springs with shock absorbers at the rear.

The far-sighted Henry Ford reputedly dubbed the Australian ute "the kangaroo chaser". So impressed was Henry Ford by Lew's invention that he sent for him in 1935 to help the US designers put a utility body on the new 1936 model.

When Lew Bandt retired from Ford in Geelong, he obtained an old 1934 vehicle and restored/rebuilt it similar to the original 1934 Coupe Utility design. The registration plate was UT 001. Lew Bandt was killed in a motor vehicle accident while driving his ute back to his home in Geelong after completing filming for a television documentary on 18 March 1987. The ute was restored by members of the Early Ford V8 Club of Victoria and is kept in perpetuity by Ford Australia for the Bandt family. The restored ute, pictured below, can be viewed in the Ford Discovery Centre at Ford in Geelong. There is a street called Bandt Place in Canberra named after Lew Bandt, in the suburb of Dunlop, also named after another famous Australian.

Source: FORD NEWS, Volume 13, No 2, April 1994; Australasian Post, 4 June 1987

1934 Model 40ACD Coupe Utility
Lew Bandt with his 1934 Model 40A Coupe Utility The restored 1934 Model 40A Coupe Utility
Lew Bandt with his 1934 Model 40A Coupe Utility
Photograph: Australasian Post, 4 June 1987.
The restored 1934 Model 40A Coupe Utility
Photograph: FORD NEWS, Volume 13, No 2, April 1994.