1946 Ford Ute - $37,900
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  • Overview & History
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With modern upgrades like a SOHC Ford V8, automatic transmission, and a fully independent Corvette suspension with 4-wheel disc brakes, it’s certainly more capable than it was in 1946, and you’ll never get tired of the interest it generates on the road.

Ubiquitous in Australia but always a curiosity in the US, the utility coupe or “Ute” can safely be called the direct ancestor of cars like the Chevy El Camino and Ford Ranchero. Half car, half pickup truck, it was designed for the guy who could only have one vehicle and wasn’t willing to sacrifice comfort and style for practicality. This 1946 Ford Utility Coupe certainly isn’t stock any longer, but it still represents Ford’s first post-war effort to deliver car-like comfort with a bit of blue collar sensibility. With modern upgrades like a SOHC Ford V8, automatic transmission, and a fully independent Corvette suspension with 4-wheel disc brakes, it’s certainly more capable than it was in 1946, and you’ll never get tired of the interest it generates on the road. Everyone loves the Ute!

Repatriated to Canada by a Canadian service member, this cool Ford has enjoyed two rather significant makeovers. The first gave it the Ford 4.6 liter V8 engine and drivetrain, along with the Corvette suspension, while the second added the trick bodywork, including the sectioned and decked hood that gives it that aggressive profile and the lovely two-tone paint job. Finish quality is excellent, even for a build that’s probably approaching voting age and the condition today is a testament to the workmanship that went into it. The purple pearl over copper paint scheme still looks fantastic, attracting attention while emphasizing the Ute’s split personality. Of course, all the usual modifications were included, such as shaving all the original chrome, Frenching the headlights, and molding the rear fenders into the bed sides. It’s probably worth noting that aside from the hood, the sheetmetal is as-designed, so when someone asks you if it’s custom-built, you can explain that the factory built these cool truck/cars and this one has merely been tweaked for style. Add in features like the custom power-actuated hard-shell tonneau cover for the bed, a Vee’d windshield, and custom roll pans fore and aft, and you get one great-looking mini truck that will stand out at any event.

The interior might just be the most beautiful part of a very expensive built. The pros at Portage Trim used yards of buttery smooth butterscotch leather wrapped around custom bucket seats to give it a very OEM look and feel. Dark carpets add some contrast and the entire dash has been wrapped in the same stuff and highlighted with French seams. The instrument panel is from the same Ford Thunderbird that donated the SOHC V8, while the rest is pure custom, from the tilt column to the Budnik billet aluminum wheel to the center console that houses the Kenwood AM/FM/CD stereo, OEM Ford ventilation controls, and a pair of cupholders just for cruising. Oh, and there’s a cool clock in the center just to add an upscale vibe. 3-point seat belts and some modest storage behind the seats make it somewhat practical, but there’s no arguing that this is a first-class way to travel despite the vehicle’s working class origins. Sculpted door panels extend the dash so it seems to wrap around the passengers and there’s a custom headliner that is beautifully fitted—this was an extremely expensive interior!

For reliability, the 4.6 liter Ford V8 was transplanted in virtually stock condition, and with 210 horsepower and about 300 pounds of torque on tap, it’s plenty punchy in the lightweight Ute. The working bits of the engine are cleverly hidden under a custom cover that was painted to match the bodywork, but the finned cam covers are still visible, a nice touch. You’ll note even the OEM airbox was retained, mounted to the side of the engine bay, and all the controls are Ford, so service is easy and it starts and runs like a factory-built piece. There’s a massive Howe aluminum radiator up front, cooled by an equally massive electric fan, and power steering and brakes are standard equipment. Turn the key and it starts instantly, idles properly, and with a deep well of V8 torque on tap, it feels quick on the street yet settles down on the highway. If you need a street rod built for the road, this is a fantastic choice.

This Ute doesn’t handle like any pickup you’ve driven, however, because the entire suspension was transplanted from a C4 Corvette, including the transverse leaf springs, rack-and-pinion steering, and giant 4-wheel disc brakes. Handling is crisp but ride quality is surprisingly supple, suggesting a lot of tuning was involved to get the balance just right. Ford’s 4-speed automatic transmission offers a deep overdrive for easy highway cruising, and it’s linked to the Corvette’s Dana 44 rear end with what feel like 3.42 gears inside, so it’s nimble and quick off the line. The original frame has been heavily reinforced and is now as rigid as a railroad bridge, and the custom exhaust system tucks up inside the frame for excellent ground clearance despite the lowered stance. Clever details include charging posts and a shut-off switch for the hidden battery, the quad outlet exhaust with glasspack-style mufflers, and even a functioning emergency brake. Nice! Custom Centerline billet aluminum wheels give it an awesome stance and are wrapped in staggered 205/40/17 front and 255/35/18 rear performance radials.

As we’ve discovered, everyone loves the Ute. We’ve had other Australian Utes before, but nothing that approaches this car’s level of detail and execution. A no-compromises build that cost several times the asking price, it’s a great opportunity to own a totally unique rod that stands out without being extreme. It’s fast yet comfortable, sporty yet practical, and everybody has questions when they see it on the road. If you like that combination, you’re going to love this Ute. Call today!

Harwood Motors always recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections of any vehicle in our inventory prior to purchase.

Vehicle: 1946 Ford Ute
Price: $37,900
Stock Number: 117136
Mileage: 109,305
VIN: 51A671094
Engine: 4.6 liter SOHC V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3.42
Wheelbase: 114 inches
Wheels: Front: 17x6, Rear: 18x8 Billet Specialties
Tires: Front: 205/40/17, Rear: 255/35/18 performance radials
Exterior Color: Tiger Orange/Purple
Interior Color: Baseball Glove leather
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