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F-Series to return in 2001

Beaut ute: The massive F-Series will be produced in right-hand drive specifically for Australia.

Ford Australia will have to wait until 2001 to get its hands on the latest F-Series utilities, which are to be built in right- hand-drive form in Brazil

2 Jul 1999

FORD Australia will bring the massive American F-Series ute back to Australia, but it will not be before 2001.

The company is not shy about its intentions to get the F-Series - the king of utes in a country where the ute is king - but reports that it would be before the end of next year have been described as overly optimistic.

Light commercial vehicle brand manager of Ford Australia, Kevin Lillie, said he would like to have the vehicles "tomorrow", but that a two-year time-span was more likely.

This is because the engineering for right-hand drive is being conducted in Brazil, where the F-Series will be built.

Incredibly, Australia will be the only country getting the factory-built right-hookers, which will account for only 1000 or so units.

The F-Series is the top-selling vehicle in North America, accounting for 850,000 units last year (17 percent of all Ford sales), and is built at three plants in South America.

Ford Australia, which assembled F-Series utes in Brisbane until 1986, decided against local conversions when the Brazilians offered to undertake the engineering for right-hand-drive production.

Through the 1990s, small numbers have continued to find their way to Australia, where they have been converted by Melbourne company Billrich Automotive.

"It's amazing to think that it took us years to get rid of the F- Series and now we can't wait to get it back," said a Ford executive at the release of the new Ford Falcon ute.

The latest F-Series may be a few years old by the time it reaches Australia, but as the previous model lasted 16 years it should get a reasonable run in Australia.

Ford executives will not elaborate on which models are planned for Australia.

In the US, there are a bewildering number of F-150, F-250 and F- 350 model variants with engines including a V6 (unlikely to come here), new 4.6 and 5.4-litre V8s, a 6.8-litre V10 and even a 7.3- litre turbo-diesel V8, driving through either the rear or all four wheels.

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