1950 Chevrolet Coupe Utility "Ute" - SOLD
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  • Overview & History
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Yes, this is a factory-built vehicle with no modifications or alterations from original spec.

The first thing everyone asks when they see this neat 1950 Chevrolet Utility (AKA “Ute”), is whether it’s a custom build, and since the workmanship is so fantastic, the next thing they want to know is who did the work. The answer to both questions is that it was built by Chevrolet, albeit Chevrolet of Australia (called Holden). See, the Ute is something of a phenomenon Down Under, with all the major automakers creating some version of a car-based pickup. The idea, of course, is that farmers would have a work vehicle during the week and a car they could use on weekends all wrapped up in one. It’s a neat concept that finally caught on here with the El Camino. So yes, this is a factory-built vehicle with no modifications or alterations from original spec. They built around 2300 of them in 1950, and since they were never officially imported to the US, well, that explains why you’ve never seen one. But it is definitely legit and it’s a whole lot of fun to show and drive.

Having spent most of its life in Victoria, Australia (which is mostly desert), and then coming to California in the early 2000s, you can see why it is so beautifully preserved. It has been repainted just once in its original beige color, which was the only color available on a Ute in 1950. The sheetmetal underneath is in fantastic, undamaged condition save for a little bodywork on the left rear fender that was more likely due to a parking lot mishap than rust or rot. Everything forward of the firewall should look familiar even to US enthusiasts, because it’s more or less identical to US-built Chevrolets. Fenders, hood, grille, all of it should interchange with US cars. The doors may even be the same as 4-door sedan doors, but from there, it’s completely unique. The cab has ideal proportions and quarter windows that keep it bright and airy inside, and the pickup bed offers molded-in fenders right from the factory, which is probably why everything thinks it’s some kind of trick custom. It also has a bespoke tailgate with a neat handle and Chevrolet emblem, plus a hinged panel underneath for access to the spare tire. The tonneau cover was a dealer-installed accessory, not some homemade addition, so it looks right and fits well. The paint is several years old and has some patina, but somehow it suits the Ute just fine—do you really want something like this to be perfect? Panel fit is quite good and as I mentioned, this truck/car spent its life in the desert, so rust is a total non-issue. Most of the trim is stainless, so it shines up nicely and the grille and bumpers are in excellent shape. This is a very usable truck just as it sits.

Yes, it has right-hand drive, and that’s the first thing folks notice when they open the door. It might seem scary or weird to you, but don’t let that turn you off from this neat little trucklet. I promise that after five miles of driving, you’ll have zero issues with the shifter on the left side of the column and sitting on the “wrong” side of the vehicle really isn’t a big deal, even in traffic. In fact, the most annoying part of it is looking in your rear-view mirror; habit will make you look to the right, but you’ll have to learn to look to the left. Don’t worry, you can handle this and it’s a lot of fun to freak people out when you’re sitting on the other side of the vehicle! It’s also a nice place to hang out, with a fresh brown vinyl seat cover and door panels, as original, plus fresh carpets that help keep it comfortable inside. Remember that this was supposed to be a civilized work vehicle. Chevy fans will quickly recognize the familiar gauge pod, which puts the auxiliary dials around the perimeter of the speedometer, and they all work properly. It also features a radio and a clock, although neither is operational due to the 12-volt electrical system. There’s a tidy headliner overhead and since it was born and used in the desert, there is no heater. Accessory turn signals were added for safety and I suspect you’ll have no problem feeling at home in the Ute after just a few minutes of familiarization.

Mechanically, it’s identical to all 1950 Chevrolets, with a 216 cubic inch inline-6 under the hood. It’s conventionally configured, with the downdraft carburetor and oil bath air cleaner on the left side of the block and a simple linkage to re-route it over to the pedal on the right. It’s finished in corporate blue/gray engine enamel and needs nothing more than a few reproduction decals to look factory-correct. It has been rebuilt and more recently it was tuned with fresh ignition components so it lights off almost instantly and idles with a smoothness that belies its origins as a work vehicle. The big radiator keeps it cool under almost any conditions and while it has been upgraded to 12 volts, it still uses a generator for an authentic look under the hood. It’s torquey and eager, so it zips through traffic without complaints. Seriously, this truck is really easy to drive!

The 3-speed manual transmission shifts easily once you master shifting with your left hand, and the feel will be identical to the American version you used to own. Clutch take-up is light and smooth and it steps off from idle without any shuddering or excessive clutch slipping. The gears in back are 4.11s, so it’s not a high-speed cruiser, although it’s pretty happy at 55-60 MPH. The suspension is car-based, so ride quality is quite good without the bouncy crudeness of a pickup and the single exhaust has a nice 6-cylinder purr. You can see how clean it is underneath, thanks to a lifetime in the dry heat of Australia. The underside of the wood bed floor is in excellent condition as well, although the top is finished to better-than-new condition (it was likely just painted with the rest of the truck). The gas tank is tucked in just ahead of the spare tire, which is on a restored steel wheel. 6.70-15 Firestone bias-ply tires give it an authentic look and feel and the simplicity if the “dog dish” hubcaps is the perfect complement to the no-nonsense Ute.

This Ute is rare enough for us to say with confidence that it’s going to be the only one at any show you attend, and it’s probably the nicest of its kind anywhere. Only 2300 or so were built, so it’s very rare, and thanks to honest Chevrolet mechanicals and a great climate, it is ready to enjoy without any additional work. It’s also a great deal of fun to drive and if you like being the star of the show, few vehicles attract more attention than this. As I mentioned, people are going to have a lot of questions when they see it. Just a neat little truck at a great price. Call today!

Vehicle: 1950 Chevrolet Coupe Utility "Ute"
Price: SOLD
Stock Number: 115184
Mileage: 8005
VIN: 402868
Engine: 216 cubic inch inline-6
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 4.1100000000000003
Wheelbase: 115 inches
Wheels: 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 6.70-15 Firestone blackwall
Exterior Color: Tan
Interior Color: Brown vinyl
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