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Truck Thursday: Oregon Coast Ford Falcon Ute

Jim Yu May 22, 2013 Hooniverse Truck Thursday 19 Comments

XC Ute 4

[Ed. Note – The pictures and beautiful story are by commenter stickmanonymous. Thanks, mate!]

It was true for me, at least as an automobile-loving child growing up in the south-east suburbs of Perth in the early 1990s, that familiarity bred contempt. My working-class suburb was home to all manner of vehicles that seemed to me at the time to be mundane and ordinary. 

The cars that surrounded me were working-class cars, mostly domestic Australian models, although the Japanese were well represented and respected. The working-class hero who cared about such things would have a Holden or Ford with a V8 of some kind, although if you were a bit left field, you might have a Valiant. The capacity of the engine mattered less than the fact that it was a V8. To this type of Aussie bloke, the V8 had a mythological status that probably warrants some sort of anthropological study. 

XC Ute 1

In these pre-SUV days, most cars were sedans or wagons. There was the occasional coupe or hatchback. In what we all should have seen as a warning sign, an increasing number of people owned four-wheel-drive vehicles, mostly Toyota Landcruisers or Nissan Patrols. Some vehicles were those strange Australian peculiarities, the ute or the panel van. These were exclusively working vehicles; sometimes loved, often dented, always relied on to turn a buck, and never remarkable enough to take much notice of.  

Practically every one of the vehicles in this semi-suburban landscape was made in the 70s or early 80s. They were all common enough not to mean too much to me. I preferred my family doctor’s 911, or the plain navy blue two-door E30 318i that I had seen down in Margaret River. Those, and the monstrous, garish, chromey American cars that were in the advertising pages of the volumes of National Geographic magazines that my father collected.

XC Ute 2

Twenty years later I live in a place that’s about as far removed geographically from the landscape of my childhood as it’s possible to exist and still remain in regular contact with humans. Sure, it’s still first-world wealthy, but it’s covered in snow for half the year, there are geographical features other than seas of sand and salt water, and the mammals here are less cute and adorable, and more pointy-toothed and ravenous. 

The automotive landscape is different, too. Most people here have vast 4×4 trucks that stay the same dingy brownish-grey colour all year round. The gelatinous SUV makes up the bulk of the remaining share of the automotive population, with the minivan full of elderly and/or religious types following them up, and the sedan coming in a distant fourth place, probably in flaccid competition with the hatchback. The wagon is pretty much dead, and most people here can’t even conceptualise the ute or the panel van. Manual transmissions are considered weird, fuel is cheap, and most people’s idea of an old car is less than ten years old. 

XC Ute 3

For a not-yet-thirty-year-old to drive a full-size, body-on-frame, column-shifted, bench-seated, seventeen-year-old sedan is an anachronism in this town. It’s a V8. So it all makes sense to me.

In December a friend suggested that I come to visit Oregon and spend Christmas at the beach.  Coastal Oregon beckoned as a beacon of tropical warmth and a haven of good beer and better company in the context of the cold, dark, and provincialism of my small town. I girded the loins of the Grand Marquis and headed south for the thousand-mile, seventeen-hour drive to Portland, largely uneventful except for surly border guards, surprisingly infrequent fuel stops, coffee that thankfully wasn’t made by some bloke named Tim or Ronald, a monsoon on the I5, and the mild puckering sensation that one feels when the rear end of one’s car steps out a foot or so on a straight road at 90km/h in minus 18 degree weather while descending into the Fraser Canyon.

XC Ute 7

The bolted, metal expansion joints on the I5 decided to destroy one of my tyres just outside of Olympia, so when I arrived in Portland, the GrandMa was parked, and I became my friend’s passenger. While my friend is lovely, her car isn’t, and her driving is worse. That said, being a passenger on the 101 isn’t all bad. Especially when one has the time to spot something so incredibly familiar, yet so out of place, as an XC Falcon ute with California plates on the side of a road in coastal Oregon. 

This particular example was pretty beaten up, and one has to wonder how that came to be. Obviously someone had at one time spent some time and money bringing it over from Australia, getting the thing registered, and respraying it. Over the years it seems to have become quite a challenge to maintain such a rare specimen so far from home; it’s been a long time since it rolled out of Broadmeadows back in the late 70s, and it shows. Despite all the badging, there was never an XC GT ute, so what it actually left the factory as is something of a mystery. Peering through the hood scoops, I could make out some sort of V8, and if I were taking the time to import something like this, I’d make sure it had a 351. So let’s call it that. Let’s also imagine it has a Toploader attached to the back of it, and a 9-inch further down the line. It probably doesn’t, but it’s sure nice to think so. Let’s also hope that someone out there saves this oddity, because it deserves better than to rot away in some forgotten Oregonian parking lot. 

XC Ute 8

So, many years and many miles away from my childhood, I’ve come to realise that the mundane and the ordinary isn’t always. It’s a shame that so often we don’t notice what we have until it’s gone. Thanks for the memories, Mysterious Oregonian/Californian Mongrel XB Ute, you well-travelled working-class hero. All the best of luck, and may you hoon once more. 

XC Ute 9

More info about this ute can be found here.

  • taborj

    "Coastal Oregon beckoned as a beacon of tropical warmth"


    I'm sorry…I live in Oregon…even coming from way up North, the Oregon coast (which I absolutely love) is anything but warm. Which is part of it's charm.

    • I wonder where the author had been living?!

      • Preludacris

        A small clue: "While descending into the Fraser Canyon…"
        The Fraser is the largest river in the province, but there's only one road through the canyon. So, somewhere north of Cache Creek.
        My wild guess, blindfolded and directed toward the map with a pin in hand? Smithers, BC.

        • I've been up there on my Greyhound trip in October. No wonder he thinks the Oregon Coast is a tropical paradise!

          • Preludacris

            I could be way off, but if he's from anywhere near there – yes, Oregon is paradise in winter.

            • The Oregon coast can be quite nice that time of year, actually, but those of us who grew up there prefer to keep quiet about it. (Don't tell anyone.)

        • stickmanonymous

          That is freakishly spooky. Bang on, son.

  • The linked article says "near Newport" but I can't place the location from the photos. Where is this? I wouldn't mind seeing whether it's still there the next time I visit my family.

    • stickmanonymous

      Drive south from bustling downtown Newport on the 101, and you can't miss it. It's in a parking lot, on the right. I can't accurately recollect exact distances, but I'd confidently say within 10 miles.

      It seems to have been there for a while; LeMons racing, anyone? Parts shouldn't be much of an issue. We could go with a Bogan theme (research this). I'll provide the beer…

      • It had occurred to me that very few vehicles are likely to get a quicker waiver to the "…legal for US highway use at the time of their manufacture" section of Rule 2.1.

        There's still the question of determining how valuable the owner thinks it is. I usually cut over to the coast south of there, through Florence, but that can change.

        • stickmanonymous

          Half of me thinks the owner has given up on it and no-one is interested because they have no idea what it is. The other half of me thinks he wants way too much for it, so it's never going to sell.

          I'd be seriously interested in seeing if it's a reasonable proposition. 2000 mile commute notwithstanding.

          • I'm equally divided on that point, too. I expect to be in the area in mid-June, probably passing through town on the weekend, so if it's still there I'll see whether anyone's around who knows more about it.

  • scoudude

    If you want some more pictures of this fine car you can see its first appearance on the net here. http://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-… while the vehicles around it have moved/changed it doesn't appear that the Ute has moved.

    • scoudude

      Oops missed the link in the article.

  • stickmanonymous

    Also, I wrote "XB ute" somewhere in the article. It's not. It's an XC. This probably matters in some way to someone. Likely me more than anyone.

  • dr zero

    Damn, a great story about a Falcon ute in the US (thanks stickanonymous) on the same day (in Australia at least) that Ford announced that it was ceasing manufacturing in Australia.

    • Look for a story about a cross-country trip in another ute on Hooniverse soon…

  • As of 15 June 2013 it's still parked at Newport Marine & RV Service with an asking price of $5000 OBO. It's in fairly rough shape.