One of the fastest growing segments in the classic car world are 1960s commercial vehicles. What was once the tradies' basic workhorse is now desirably collectible. And one of the most desired of the desired is the 1960 FB Holden utility, with its iconic fifties styling motif, the wrap around windscreen.
Good, clean examples of the FB and its look-a-like successor, the EK, are keenly sought after because so few have survived the wear and tear of everyday business use or farm life and the dreaded advance of rust. Sam Princi's FB Holden utility is a wonderfully original example of the genre. There's nothing fancy about this ute. It is bare bones all the way. No radio. No heater. No door arm rests. No interior rear view mirror. Three speed manual transmission and drum brakes.
That's the way it was back then. Utes were for hauling stuff around. They were not luxury vehicles for posing in. "It came from Perth where it had been stored for 15 years" explains Sam. "I looked at five or six before I found this one. It needed a bit of a tidy up, but nothing major, surprisingly it's very original" he says. Sam's Ute was built in Adelaide and sold through the Perth Holden dealership Sydney Atkinson, which is long gone now. It has 4,000 miles on the dial & he's sure that's the second time around.
On a cruise through Sydney's northern beaches the Ute attracts immediate attention. When we stop at an abandoned petrol station for a photo shoot people quickly surround the car. "Cool" is the word most used to describe the car and the Americana of its wrap around windscreen. On the road the Holden easily paces the traffic. "Second gear is my best friend" Sam says. " There is no synchromesh on first, so you learn quickly the benefits of a little extra clutch & acceleration".
When we stop at traffic lights a guy in the car next to us shouts out "my dad used to run a Holden dealership and sold thousands of those. It's great !" and he speeds off in his Toyota Corolla sedan. Sam's car is a trophy winner yet he still uses it regularly. "I love driving her as often as I can, it's loads of fun", he says. FB utes command strong prices these days. Rusted hulks with no motors and no gearboxes are advertised for $2000, while restored beauties have $30,000 prices tags.
David Burrell is the editor of www.retroautos.com.au