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Ford’s wild 1990s ute concept

Awesome concept cars have gone by the wayside since local manufacturing ended and the cancellation of big motor shows in Australia’s major cities, but previous efforts have been spectacular.

In particular, Ford’s XH Falcon Sandfire Ute from 1998 is one of the wildest to be built and displayed.

The Ford Australia Design Centre provided eye-catching touches to the exterior including cutaway and ‘eyebrows’ metal front wheel arches paired with an XR Ute nose cone.

Rear modifications include the addition of a custom black neoprene-trimmed fastback canopy featuring a zip up centre section, while the bumper was removed, with lights from the Capri Clubsprint special edition sports car were utilised.

However, the most distinctive features are the twin side-exiting chrome exhausts and the ICI Autocolour ‘Sandfire Yellow’ hue in which the naming of the concept honours.

Speedline Corse 18-inch chromed alloys complete a superb package.

Under the skin, a 5.0-litre multipoint EFI V8 with ‘Sandfire Yellow’ coloured engine covers producing 185kw and 402Nm through a four-speed automatic transmission.

Further engine mods include ceramic extractors from Ford’s anniversary GT with 3” inch big bore, while the exhausts extends through the engine bay, along the sill and exiting just before the rear tyres.

Lowered sports suspension ensure good handling combining with mod cons including cruise control, air conditioning and ABS.

‘Luna Mint’ upholstery welcomes the driver inside featuring sport black inserts and race suit material, while XR instruments add to the fast environment. A MOMO steering wheel featuring leather grips completes the key driving features as a full Alpine sound system including 600w subwoofer, twin 120w door, 50w dash speakers and bass-synched vibration speakers were fitted alongside a big sound 160 watt amplifier.

“Sandfire has got to be the flashest toolbox carrier in town, with its brilliant ‘Sandfire Yellow’ powder pearl mica finish by Dulux, raked black neoprene canopy and lots of outrageous chrome wheels and side pipes for a good kerbside look,” Ford light truck marketing services David Hosking said.

“The Sandfire V8 Ute continues the customer capable show car theme of last year’s rural Terra Ute, but makes an urban street machine statement for the enterprising ute owner with access to high quality body craftsmanship and some off the shelf parts.”

On display throughout 1998, the ‘Sandfire’ was a P Platers dream then and maybe even now.

Motoring enthusiasts can view ‘Sandfire’ at the Geelong Museum of Motoring and Industry alongside many other Ford Australia creations.