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Corsa, Lumina, Ranger... Here are a few of Mzansi's bakkie icons of the 2000s

2018-11-09 07:51

Lance Branquinho

Chevrolet Lumina

Image: Wheels24

"From tiny diesels to V8s, the diversity of bakkies marketed in SA after the millennium was fascinating," writes Lance Branquinho as he takes a look at some of the bakkies from the noughties.

Chevrolet Lumina

Everything about the second-generation Chevrolet Lumina Ute was ridiculous. You could order one in a hue named Morpheus purple and with only 110mm of ground clearance, they were useless on any gravel roads. As a South African all-purpose bakkie, not great.

But to transport long and awkwardly shaped loads, at very high speed, there has never been anything better than the second-gen Lumina. The load bed was massive, although, with a payload rating of only 622kg, it couldn’t carry singularly heavy loads.

READ: Nissan 1400, Mazda Magnum, Toyota Hilux... South Africa’s iconic bakkies of the 1990s

Power was aplenty and despite the 6.0-litre V8's epic thirst and relatively uncomplicated pushrod valvegear system, it was a charming blend of old-school. Power peaked at 270kW, supported by 530Nm of torque, and the soundtrack was brilliant.

Chevrolet Lumina

                                                                         Image: Wheels24

An underappreciated aspect of the Lumina bakkie’s appeal was its cabin comfort. Evolved from the Lumina sedan, it featured ergonomics and seating comfort that was only bettered when VW launched the Amarok many years later.

There are few things we envy about Australia, but Lumina was one of those – this was a rare instance where the South African motoring market was a happy beneficiary of Australian export excellence. 

Opel Corsa

Before VW’s Amarok, if you wanted a theoretically German bakkie, this was your solution. The Opel badge was a misnomer, as Corsa Utility was, in fact, a General Motors global vehicle project, and in the competitive South African compact bakkie market of the 2000s, it was a monumental success.

Trading on the traditional brand cachet of Opel, Corsa Utility combined a deep loadbin with hatchback driveability. Engine offerings were clever too. There was a fuel-injected 1.4-litre petrol, which was marginally more responsive than rival small-capacity engines powering Nissan’s 1400 and Ford’s Bantam.

Opel Corsa bakkie

                                                                       Image: Supplied

For those who required enormous driving endurance or load-lugging economy, there was a 1.7-litre Corsa diesel too, powered by a terrifically reliable Isuzu engine.

Although many of these Corsa Utility bakkies were at best urban lifestyle vehicles, with front mud flaps cut away to accommodate the steering angle of 17-inch aftermarket wheels, those who operated the utilitarian 1.7 diesels as start-up business vehicles have incredibly fond memories of them.

Tragically, the next-generation Corsa would be renamed a Chevrolet and never quite generated the same customer loyalty as the original badge-engineered Opel. 

Ford Ranger 3.0 TDCi

In 2018 the Hilux/Ranger rivalry is obvious and with the excellence and size, these two bakkie product portfolios offer, it’s understandable that they dominate the local market. Ford’s incumbent position was not always naturally the case.

The ascendance of Ranger as the first true rival to Hilux is mistakenly accredited to the T6 Ford bakkie, which launched in 2011. But the momentum was established a generation before that, with the 2007 Ranger.

Ford Ranger

                                                                       Image: Supplied

Part of a substantial local investment project by Ford to harvest revenue from the South African bakkie market, the third-generation Ranger was the bakkie which refined the blue oval’s standing amongst double-cab enthusiasts.

A drawcard of this Ranger was its 3-litre TDCi turbodiesel engine, which although not the most powerful in class, at 115kW, it was the smoothest - and cranking 380Nm, it certainly wasn’t workshy. 

Nissan Navara 

When Nissan launched its Navara locally in 2005, customer demand was robust and jealousy from Toyota and Ford bakkie owners – rampant. Here was a double-cab bakkie which was handsome in the manner of classic American square-proportioned pick-up trucks.

Beyond the striking appearance, Navara also offered what Nissan bakkies always have: a range of strong, durable engines. It was the 4.0-litre V6 petrol, in particular, which had appealed to those who liked to tour at speed, in their double-cabs.

Nissan Navara

                                                                     Image: Supplied

Peaking 198kW of power, this 4.0-litre V6 could light-up even the fattest profile rear bakkie tyres and for dune driving, the linear power curve was brilliant. The diesels were smaller than convention, 2.5-litres whilst most of the market fixated at 3.0-litre capacity, but they made class equalling power and served owners well.

As all full-size Nissan bakkies which had gone before, Navara was swiftly adopted by tow-truckers all-over South Africa.

Hilux D4D

Toyota’s South African product planners didn’t relish the prospect of replacing the Hilux KZ-TE. Here was a bakkie, which into the 2000s, was outselling its rivals, despite being down on power compared to them.

Toyota D4D

                                                                       Image: Supplied

Customer expectations were high when the seventh-generation Hilux as launch locally in the mid-2000s, Toyota significantly boosted the performance of its headline double-cab diesel offering. The D-4D naming convention replaced KZ-TE and rated at 120kW and 343Nm, it made 40% more power than the model it replaced.

The market response was predictably overwhelming, and Toyota struggled to match production output with demand. Even in 2018, the early seventh-generation Hilux D-4Ds are much sought after and command a substantial price premium. 

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