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My 1985 Nissan 1200 ute


From the day a Gippsland farmer approached Ford with a wish that they create a car he could drive to church on Sundays and take the pigs to market on Monday there's being a grand devotion to the body style locally.

Utes have come in all shapes and sizes, from the whopping 5-metre long Holden Crewman to the array of small Asian models over the years. They are worshipped at their own muster at Deniliquin every year and put to work and play in both the country and now in the city.

Sydney's David Falzon is one of the devoted. He has owned five different Datsun/Nissan 1200 utes and says he has finally settled on the one he's going to keep. His 1985 Nissan 50th anniversary model has had a relatively cosetted life. When he bought it 18 months ago it was a one-owner still in good original condition.

"(They) only used it to go down to the tennis club. It's only tennis rackets in the back," Falzon says. But at least it got driven, totalling up about 60,000 kilometres. Falzon has spent several thousands of dollars sprucing up the car to ensure it is now in excellent original condition. So much so that he won't drive it in case it gets damaged.

"I've never driven the car. It's a shame that I can't drive it, but I don't want to get stone chips on the bottom. "It's not registered. The plan is to keep it in storage."

Falzon says he has received a considerable offer to buy it but he has no plans to sell. He says he has been a fan of the little utes for years. "I've always loved them. It's small, it's compact. I've had five of them. I said to my wife the next one I buy will be the one I keep. "And this one has got no rust."

Falzon says a major reason for keeping this one is the high standard of its originality. "Ninety-eight per cent of them are modified. To have one of them in original condtion is very rare."

Falzon says he bought the car in fair condition. Since then he sourced a heap of new parts, some of them from Japan, to restore the car. "It just needed sprucing up."

He says the car was basically rust free thanks to it being coated in a wax at the factory when new. "They rusted up quite easily. They are such a flimsy car."

It has been repainted in a striking coat of its original red scheme. Falzon says the utes were popular in their day, outselling the equivalent Datsun/Nissan sedan model. "They were very popular. They were the best seller out of the 1200 models. "I got told that if you bought a Kenworth truck you got one these for free. That's what I was told, I don't know if its true or not."

As new in 1985 the two-door ute sold for $7865 and was powered by an 1171cc four-cylinder engine. It weighed only 1320kg.

They have proven favourites with street car modifiers over the years with many receiving far more powerful engines transplanted into the lightweight chassis.

The Nissan 1200 ute was first seen in Australia back in 1971 when it wore a Datsun badge. That car was imported from Japan with the same size engine as the last cars 14 years later.

In the same vein as the much-missed Subaru Brumby and even the current Proton Jumbuck the baby utes have carved their own niche in Aussie motoring folklore.