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Bakkie bonanza at Auto Africa

2006-10-02 18:18
Bakkie owners in South Africa have never had it so good. Where there were only a handful of vehicles to from which choose a decade or two ago, the specification sections on light commercial vehicles in the major motoring magazines' are today bursting at the seams, with around 20 brands offering well over 100 derivatives.

The Auto Africa motor show, which takes place at Expo Centre, Johannesburg, at the end of October, will feature models from all of the long-established manufacturers on display, alongside the numerous budget pickups that have arrived from the East.

There'll be a 4x4 track where visitors to the show can drive the various manufacturers' 4x4 bakkies and sports utility vehicles (SUVs), for back-to-back comparisons on just how well they perform off-road.

South Africa's most popular bakkie, the Hilux, will be well represented at Auto Africa, and Toyota has gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that nobody gets bored. They will be running a special rally stage at the show, where members of the public can get first-hand experience of being driven flat-out in one of the works Toyota Hilux off-road racing bakkies, or in the works RunX rally cars. The driving will be done by experienced Toyota rally and off-road racing drivers.

Static displays in the exhibition areas will include the all-conquering Team Nissan Navara off-road racing bakkies, built by the same Proudly South African team that has won the national championship for the past five years. The same team prepared the parent company?s Dakar entries for 2004 and 2005, so if you want to see world-class race engineering, the Nissan stand is the place to go.

General Motors has contributed generously to Operation Rachel, which sends SA Police Service members into Mozambique to collaborate with the local officials and recover thousands of illegal weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition for destruction.

Every year, for over a decade, GM has sent a fleet of Isuzu KB bakkies along, and one of these war-veteran workhorses will be on show on a stand manned by the policemen who risk their lives to make ours safer. Don't miss it ? you'll be amazed at the tales they have to tell.

Ford's concept lifestyle 4X4 bakkie, the Ford 4-Trac, has been brought in especially for Auto Africa. This is the way lifestyle bakkies will all have to look in future, if the positive response to its appearance at other shows is anything by which to judge.

Volkswagen, Mazda and Mitsubishi will also be laying out the red carpet for visitors, with all their latest offerings on display.

The one-ton sector of the local LCV market has gained a couple of very appealing new competitors over the last two years.

Tata's Telcoline range is selling well in single and double-cab versions, in two and four wheel drive, while another Indian company, Mahindra, has just launched an extremely affordable pickup, the Bolero Load- Runner, to sell alongside their well-specified Scorpio Pik-Up.

The importers of both these brands will ensure that there are representative samples of all their models for you to sniff around before reaching into your pocket.

The sub-one-ton pickup sector also offers more choice than ever before, with Fiat now importing their Strada to contest the territory traditionally ruled by the excellent Opel Corsa, Ford Bantam, and Nissan 1400 pickup.

Proton has also tossed their hat into the ring in this class, and all of these manufacturers and importers will be jostling for position in the race for sales. Fiat will up the stakes at Auto Africa, by unveiling their new Strada extended-cab, which provides secure stowage for tools and valuables. Who knows ? if it proves a hit we could soon see the idea taking off with the rest.

Auto Africa brings you the cream of the enormous range of cars, motorcycles, trucks, bakkies, and accessories now available in South Africa, all gathered at one venue for comparison.

Don't miss your opportunity to see them at the Expo Centre in Johannesburg, between October 26 and November 5.


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