Reader test: Ford Bantam 1.3i XL
Herbert du Plessis
I bought this lively half tonner from the Ford Dealer at N1 City Cape Town on the 4th of August 2006. In white with a tonneau cover and canopy. See the cost of insuring a metallic vehicle versus matt white!
The primary purchase criteria for this vehicle were monthly costs (total not to exceed R4500 per month), frugal consumption and space for my above-average frame.
It's covered over 135 000 km since then and the only complaint I have is that the dealers do not know how to adjust the idling speed / throttle valve on the vehicle. Parts do not carry a warranty if you install them yourself; even wheel nuts have no warranty!
On to the good stuff!
This bakkie hauls me, any passenger and its full load under any circumstances. I've taken it on long road trips, up and down dirt roads, speedy daily commutes and the usual drag of peak time traffic. It is no speed demon, but then it does make up for it with an average consumption of 14.7km/litre. 120 000km on the first set of tyres!
It has all the things you need, CD player/radio, power steering and air conditioning. At an average service cost of only R 1500 and with the low monthly insurance premium, it is the perfect vehicle for the high mileage driver. The comfort of a car and the loadability of a bakkie.
I've installed a power inverter, 12V to 240V, to power my laptop and other equipment when I am conducting site visits. One needs to be careful when doing this. The Willard battery can only supply so much and I would suggest no less than two hours between charging trips in the vehicle.
Yes, it goes to 90% of the sites that I need to visit, for the rest we take a helicopter! No Bruiser Cruiser required!
What I found most surprising about this vehicle is its tractability in top gear. This is good for fuel consumption, it also lessens the burden of having to continually hunt for gears like other half tonners I've had.
The aftermarket K&N filter probably helped this. What would increase the appeal of this range of vehicles would be an automatic gearbox. All the retirees that have driven my vehicle like it for its functionality, but have expressed concern over the lack of an automatic gearbox though.
It is also extremely satisfying when one vists the office and parks the mud-packed Bantam between the Hiluxes, Prados and Cruisers. Costs less than half per month, is twice as fuel efficient and more than up to the task at hand. This does go a long way to explaining why some of us can still afford to frequently eat steak, go on road trips and enjoy the full effect of a less-than-5-minute fuel fill up!
The half tonner market is overlooked, for the young entrepeneur you cannot beat it and the maintenance costs make it the obvious choice in the current economic climate.