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Ute turn if you want to

Ute turn if you want to….the lady’s not for turning.

Who’d have thought Jacinda Ardern, New Zealands practically perfect in every way Labour PM, would have something in common with dearly departed Maggie. They’ve both been marvellously caricatured by Spitting Image, Jacinda reprising Julie Andrews roles, but surprisingly they both want(ed) global action on climate change and spit spot. No really, Maggie made speeches about it.

Jacinda now has penalties for gas guzzlers, the heaviest falling on Utes or ‘pickups’ as they are quaintly known elsewhere, and this ‘Ute tax’ has some telling her to go fly a kite.

Why should some obscure vehicle drivers dent her practically perfect popularity? Well only two cars were top 10 sellers for 2020, at 8 and 9. Utes took 1,2 and 4, SUVs the rest. I never thought I’d be pleased to see a Corolla in such, but how depressing for the future Kiwi classics market, let alone the climate.

You see, Kiwi blokes love their Utes.

One variation is a Mondeo or Insignia with a potato peeler taken to the rear so your kids and dog can get wet and then tumble dried, (you can get flat bed lids). Putting a V8 in a Morris Marina 575 pickup with lurid colours like asparagus silage green is the interesting template for the Ford Falcon XR8 or Holden HSV Maloo, (final 2017 model of the latter auctioned for a staggering $1m+).

Holden Maloo Ute

Others like the Ford Ranger, are just unrefined, big and ugly. Sir Robert Mark would not be convinced they’re a major contribution to road safety, because it’s like trying to see past a moving block of flats. The roof of my MG BGT doesn’t even reach the bonnet of the latest Toyota Hi(Rise)Lux. I could park underneath to keep dry in the rain, even in the jacked rubber bumper varieties.

Many farmers justifiably use Utes to ‘climb every mountain, ford every stream’ (see Jacinda Spitting out ‘close every border’, other makes of stream are available….).  Tradies and builders who all haven’t heard of Transits love them, although they’re well acquainted with White Van Mans driving style. Less justified is their popularity in the urban jungle, because hey battling your way through zimmer frames, pushchairs and cyclists needs a big blunt machete. Is it some Kiwi menfolk are pathetically insecure below our Tropic of Capricorn beltline?

Ute owners cry foul because of no electric alternative yet, presumably because they’d need Poppins magical carpetbag to fit sufficient batteries in. So far Jacinda is saying pick it up and knuckle down. Her Poppins alter ego might think some knuckles couldn’t drag any lower, but that might be a bit near to said body part for others.


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