Motoring / Motoring News
Nineteen-twenty-five, a year deeply ensconced within the decade known as the “Roaring Twenties” which, from an automotive standpoint, saw the founding of the Chrysler Corporation, Sir Malcolm Campbell becoming the first person to crack 150 mph (240 km/h) and more importantly, the introduction of a new type of vehicle, the pick-up truck.
Initially nothing more than a Ford Model T with a wooden loadbox, the foundation was literally laid for a vehicle which has morphed over the last 95 years from a hardworking workhorse, into a capable “work-hard play-hard” all-rounder.
Regardless of which reference you use to describe it; pick-up, ute or simply truck, it has become an institution and none more so than in South Africa where the term bakkie is not only edged into people’s vocabulary, but also part of our landscape and culture.
In celebration of the bakkie’s 95th birthday, The Citizen Motoring looks at four more offerings not available for South Africa, with the emphasis this time being on big, brash, over the top and powered the max; in other words, a trip across the pond to ‘The Land of the Free and the Brave’.
In the same mould as the Ford F-150, the Ram 1500 undoubtedly rates as the quintessential American pick-up many South Africans would choose in a heartbeat if offered locally.
Separated from the Dodge brand a decade ago in becoming a marque and model of its own, the current fifth generation Ram made history last year when it displaced the Chevrolet Silverado in becoming the second best-selling new vehicle in North America with total sales of 633 694 units. On first glance, it is easy to see why.
The most radical iteration since the revered second generation, the smallest Ram model is offered in single cab, quad-cab and Crew Cab body styles in rear-or-four-wheel-drive, with a choice of four engines; a mild-hybrid 3.6 Pentastar V6 that produces 228kW/365Nm, the familiar 5.7 Hemi V8 outputting 294kW/556Nm with or without eTorque and the 3.0 EcoDiesel eTorque V6, recently cleared of emissions cheating, that punches out 190kW/600Nm. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard across the range.
RELATED: Forbidden side of bakkie’s 95 years: Part One
Despite persistent rumours of an in-house developed right-hand-drive Ram happening, and although examples are imported and converted on local soil by Richards Bay based, US Trucks Sales, don’t expect Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles South Africa to make it available anytime soon if eventually approved following its axing of the Chrysler and Dodge brands three years ago.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The third of the States’ Big Three, the latest Silverado has been the topic of much discussion since its debut in Detroit two years ago for not only losing its runner-up spot to the Ram with total sales of 575 569 units, but also for its polarising looks and a segment first four-cylinder engine.
Playing second fiddle to its upscale GMC Sierra twin in the looks department, the Silverado 1500 comes in single, crew and double cab configurations with fire power coming from a 228kW/472Nm 2.7-litre turbocharged four-pot, a 210kW/413Nm normally aspirated 4.3-litre V6, a free-breathing 5.3-litre V8 that pumps out 265kW/519Nm and a 6.2-litre V8 that produces 313kW/624Nm.
Added in July, the sole diesel powerunit comes in the shape of the all-new 3.0 Duramax straight-six that makes 206kW/624Nm. Paired to this engine, as well as the 6.2 version, is a ten-speed automatic gearbox co-developed with Ford, with the 5.3 receiving an eight-speed self-shifter. Without the inclusion of cylinder deactivation however, which does not alter power or torque figures, the V8 comes with a six-speed auto that is standard on the 4.3 and 2.7.
Another model that has faced right-hand-drive rumours, the Silverado will indeed become available with RHD later this year in Australia thanks to General Motors Special Vehicles, which makes GM’s local market departure three years ago more of a bitter pill to swallow.
Very much a left-field choice compared to the F-150, Ram and Silverado, the Canton, Mississippi built Titan certainly looks the part, but without shouting about its credentials in the same way as its indigenous competitors.
The beneficiary of an extensive mid-life facelift last year, the Titan comes in single, King and Crew Cab body shapes but has faced criticism since the first generation bowed 17 years ago for not having a wider choice of engines in spite of having the option of rear-or-four-wheel-drive.
At present, the big Nissan, which rides on the same platform as the Patrol, is outfitted with the matching 5.6-litre V8 engine that produces 298kW/560Nm, but with the amount of twist going to the tar via a nine-speed automatic gearbox as opposed to its sibling’s seven.
In spite of also having faced right-hand-drive claims dating back nearly three years, the Titan has already been given the thumbs down by Nissan South Africa even though its Australian arm is pushing the other way.
Officially the oldest ‘’full-size’’ pick-up on sale in North America having debuted 14 years ago, the Tundra, unexpectedly, dwarfs the comparable Land Cruiser 79 not only for size, but also presence most local Toyota fans would give a lot for.
Unlike its mentioned rival, the Tundra, apart from its age, is limited to a double cab body style with the previous single cab having been axed some two years ago due to slow sales. Aside from the double cab, an extended wheelbase Crew Max is also offered along with a choice of two normally aspirated V8 petrol engines; a 4.6 rated at 228kW/443Nm and a 5.7 outputting 284kW/544Nm. Connected to both is a six-speed automatic gearbox.
In what appears to be an unrelenting appetite for American pick-up muscle, again spearheaded by Australia, the Tundra has also been caught on the right-hand-drive radar but with nothing so far yet confirmed.
With an all-new model out next year, riding on a unique body-on-frame version of the TNGA platform that will also underpin the Land Cruiser 300, chances are however slim that Toyota South Africa will see it fit to bring the Tundra to market even if RHD production is approved.
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