Given our love for utes, it seemed a credible idea by Ford to add another chapter to their incredibly successful Falcon ute story.
Ford and Holden have been locking horns for the tradiees/farm ute buyer since year dot and following on from the re-introduction of a cab chassis design for the AU Falcon in 1999, Ford ute sales were soaring. Holden countered with the arrival of the One Tonner in 2003 and followed up with the double cab Crewman and is 4x4 cousin the Cross 8.
Ford's answer to this challenge was the RTV. Perhaps hastily conceived the concept was to raise the existing BA Falcon ute, add some underbody protection and market it as a tough all terrain workhorse. Unfortunately, it never lived up to expectations.
The RTV featured a unique suspension, underbody protection and of course it's most obvious asset, increased ride height. Four-wheel drive was never an option, with its ride height and a rear locking differential to provide its of-road potential.
Compared to the standard Falcon utility the RTV sat 67.5mm higher at the front axle and 80mm higher at the rear axle, giving it an overall ground clearance of 215mm. Track was increased by 30mm and approach and departure angles were substantially improved. The rear of the car was deliberately raised 12.5mm higher at the rear than the front to provide a unique profile under loaded and unladen conditions without any rear-end sag.
Underbody protection was comprehensive, with a full length, one-piece fibreglass reinforced composite sump transmission guard, protective coverings for brake and fuel lines and steel sleeves for the rear shocks. Adding to its 'tough' profile were flared guards over 16-inch wheels.
The RTV Ute was upgraded to use a heavy duty Dana/Spicer Model 86 axle on all variants. Normally only fitted to V8 utes, it was chosen not only for its power and torque handling characteristics, but also for its tough sump/pinion nose throat. A heavier duty radiator was also employed.
The differential locking system mechanically locked the left and right portions of he rear axle together to form a solid drive axle, with no clutch or slip - as with a standard limited slip differential - to degrade performance. The diff lock was applied from a dash-mounted switch at speeds below 40km/h.
The RTV retained the same leaf sprung rear as the One Tonne Ute, with modifications to avoid axle tramp and to mitigate body roll.
The RTV was offered in one trim specification with either a chassis cab or ute box rear. It was available with a choice of three engines - a 182kW/380Nm 4.0-litre straight six, 156kW/375Nm B-gas 4.o-litre straight six and a 220kW/470Nm 5.4-litre V8. Transmissions options were a five speed manual and four-speed Sports Shift automatic, with sequential operation.
Inside the RTV retained all the standard Falcon utility features including power windows and mirrors, remote central locking and a radio CD player with steering wheel mounted controls, and driver's airbag. Options included air conditioning, cruise control, passenger airbag, tonneau cover and prestige paint.
The RTV was always a bit on the pricey side with the cheapest variant the Barra 186 power 5-speed manual Chassis cab at $30,615, rising to $37,635 for the box ute V8 auto. The RTV enjoyed a niche market but was discontinued in 2009.