The Duke of beaut utes

Adelong’s Duke Smyth with his 1961 EK Holden ute.

There are few things that are more Australian than a Holden ute, but there is nothing garden variety about the one belonging to Adelong’s Duke Smyth.

The turquoise-coloured 1961 EK ute gets attention wherever it goes, and it is a culmination of a fondness for Holden utes Duke has had since a youngster.

“We had one on the farm when I was a kid, and I have always loved the look of them,” he said.

“The first one I drove was a 1956 FE ute when I was about 14 or 15,” he said.

He has had his current machine for almost exactly a year, and first heard about it via his nephew.

“One of his mates was selling one, and he knew I liked old Holden utes,” he said.

It was no stock-standard ute, having been modified considerably by its owner.

It has a 186S engine with twin-Stromberg carburetors from a later-model Holden, a five-speed Toyota Celica gearbox, lowered suspension, a HR Holden front end, different exhaust, ‘moon-eye’ wheelcaps, eyeball gear knob, white wall tyres, floor carpet, crystal rainbow paint on the roof, a one-piece welded bumper bar and sparkly seat upholstery.

“The majority of the stuff was done by the previous owner; I just did the fiddly stuff for registration,” he said.

Because the ute has been modified, Duke had to carry out engineering work to make it eligible for the NSW government’s historical vehicle logbook registration.

Duke added windscreen wipers, new brakes and a brand new set of seatbelts, resprayed it and fixed the stone chips.

He finds the ute pleasant to drive.

“It gets a little bit of a wander up as any car of its age would, but it goes pretty good,” he said.

“You can sit on 100km/h.”

Duke’s family love the ute, despite its lack of air conditioning, and they are not the only ones.

“Plenty of people pull up and have a sticky beak,” he said.