The History of UTV’s
Whether you know it as a utility task vehicle (UTV), a recreational off-high vehicle (ROV), a recreational utility vehicle (RUV), or a side-by-side (SXS), the bottom line is it’s a powerful piece of machinery that is extremely useful for many jobs and even more fun on the trails. But the UTV you know and love today isn’t what UTV’s have always been like. UTV’s actually haven’t been around long. It wasn’t until about 1980 that they really began to gain popularity. Over time UTV’s evolved into the fun vehicle they are today. Gain a better appreciation for your UTV by learning and understanding the history of UTV’s.
The UTV is classified as a vehicle designed for off-road use with four wheels and a roll cage. Non-straddle seats with a belt, a steering wheel, and foot pedals are other characteristics of UTVs. They usually have a width less than 65”, and an unladen dry weight of fewer than 2,000 lbs. Depending on the design and user preference, these vehicles can be used for both utility and recreational uses.
But the UTV we know today didn’t exactly start out looking like that. In fact, it was the military Jeep that inspired the UTV. Technically, the Jeep was the first four-wheel, off-road vehicle. Thanks to the military in 1941, the Jeep was born and shortly after people began experimenting with the Jeep for off-road use.
Soon after that, the Meyers Manx fiberglass version was invented; it’s what you probably know as the Dune Buggy. The Buggy was a downsize to the Jeep and was one step closer to the modern UTV.
The next step in UTV evolution was with the creation of the all-terrain vehicle (AATV),or six-wheeled vehicle with both land and water capabilities. The AATV was also a downsize from the dune buggy and an even closer model to the UTV.
The history of UTV’s and ATV’s are similar and even overlap at times on their road to the toys we know today. ATV’s really started to gain popularity in the 1980’s with Honda’s Big Red. It featured racks and suspension, giving it more of a utility factor that hadn’t been seen before. The Kawasaki MULE was also a precursor to the UTV; it was meant to be more useful than an ATV, but more versatile than a truck. These were extremely popular for farm use, ground management and other similar types of work.
As time went on, and ATV’s became cheaper and more popular than over, consumers wanted a lightweight utility vehicle that could be used for both work and pleasure. Manufacturers began to deliver. Soon the UTV was born!
The UTV has been an ever-changing work tool and play toy. That means that you can expect to continue to see changes to UTV’s in the future! But you don’t have to leave it up to the industry; you can make your own adjustments and additions. By adding a custom fit polycarbonate UTV windshield from UTV Windshields & Accessories, for example, you can take your UTV to the next level.