Americans love bakkies, or pick-up trucks, as they prefer to call them. They like them big, tall and ridiculously overpowered. Here are five awesome bakkies born in the USA.
South Africans adore bakkies, and we’re not alone in this. There are plenty of countries all over the world that are positively batty about the bakkie. Examples include Argentina, Australia and Thailand. But nowhere has the bakkie been elevated to the level of cultural icon quite in the same way as it has in the USA. In some parts of America, specifically the midwestern and southern states, the truck you drive defines you almost as much as the church you go to, the political party you support and the beer you drink. A quick Google search shows that there are no less than 40 modern country songs that prominently feature pick-up trucks.
Particularly catchy hits include Kip Moore’s Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck, Luke Bryan’s We Rode in Trucks, Toby Keith’s Big Ol’ Truck and Dierks Bentley’s Cab of my Truck. The ultimate bakkie anthem, though, is Tim McGraw’s Truck Yeah. “Let me hear you say, Truck (yeah). Wanna get it jacked up (yeah). Let’s crank it on up (yeah),” sings Tim. If those aren’t lyrics to rally behind, what are? It’s the vehicular equivalent of Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind. Indeed, American trucks these days are all about getting ‘jacked up’ and ‘cranked up’, with the most popular performance bakkie on offer being the Ford F-150 Raptor. This Ford has created some-thing of an arms race. Thanks to the Raptor, American pick-up trucks are getting crazier and crazier. Anything you can buy in South Africa looks awfully tame by comparison. Here are five American creations that have been jacked and cranked all the way up.
5. Ford RaptorTRAX
Even in standard guise, the powerful Ford F-150 Raptor is pretty extreme, but drift demon Ken Block created an absurd Frankenstein version of it a couple of years ago. It is called the RaptorTRAX, and as the name suggests, the bakkie’s wheels have been replaced by tank-like tracks. The aim was to turn it into the ultimate snowboarding support vehicle, with the ability to deal with deep snow and steep hills. Built from a Ford Racing prepared F-150 Raptor bakkie and further enhanced by Special Vehicle Concepts in California, the truck features snowboard racks, a roof basket, a rear-mounted winch, interior storage for snacks and drinks, an exterior stereo set-up for blasting music on-site and plenty of exterior-mounted Rigid Industries lighting to help guide the way. Under the bonnet is a Whipple supercharged 6.2-litre V8, and the cabin boasts a roll cage and Recaro racing seats.
4. Icon D200 Reformer
Icon has a reputation for taking iconic old-school 4×4s and updating them in impressive ways. The company is best known for its Broncos and Cruisers, but it also dabbles in the bakkie market. Based on a 1965 Dodge D200 Power Wagon, this vehicle looks quite standard… at first. In reality, a thoroughly modern bakkie lurks under that D200 body. The classic body has been dropped onto the chassis and drivetrain of a brand-new Ram 2500. Powering the vehicle is a stonking 5.9-litre Cummins turbodiesel that develops 418kW of power and 1 321Nm of torque. It looks like an old bakkie, but it can take on the latest and greatest. Is there anything better? It might just be the ultimate sleeper.
3. Ram 1500 Rebel TRX Concept
Ram unveiled the insane Rebel TRX as a concept recently, but according to the company, it will be made available to the public in limited numbers. If true, it will be the most aggressive and absurd bakkie ever to be sold directly by a manufacturer. Not only will it have a Hellcat 6.2-litre Hemi V8 pushing out around 430kW, but it will also have a racing suspension, two spare wheels in the load area (just like a racing bakkie), and racing seats with six-point harnesses. At present, Ford owns a lucrative niche with its fast and furious F-150 Raptor. Ram hasn’t really been able to compete, but with the Rebel TRX, it’ll have a vehicle that can go toe to toe with the Raptor.
2. Hennessey VelociRaptor 25th Anniversary Edition
Speaking of the F-150 Raptor, here’s one that’ll make even the Ram Rebel TRX look a bit unassertive. As standard, the Raptor produces 335kW of power and 610Nm of torque, but tuning house Hennessey isn’t happy with that. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the company has produced the VelociRaptor 700. Only 25 will be built, and these are sure to become instant classics. The vehicle produces 525kW (704hp), and also gets other neat upgrades like 20-inch rims shod with off-road rubber, replacement bumpers at both ends, a trick racing suspension and an integrated LED light bar at the front. Not good enough? If you’re looking for something even more extreme, Hennessey now also offers a 6×6 Velociraptor…
1. Jeep Crew Chief 715
We’ve written about this Jeep before, simply because it’s probably our favourite bakkie in the whole wide world. It is called the Crew Chief, and it is one very spectacular pick-up truck. It is based on the Kaiser M715 military vehicle of the 1960s, complete with army paint job, old-school grille and chunky tyres. Look closer, though, and you’ll notice some recognisable components. The doors, for instance, are straight off a Wrangler Unlimited. Indeed, the Crew Chief is largely just a Wrangler with a modified body. It has a stretched Unlimited chassis, as well as a 3.6-litre V6 Pentastar engine, which is mated to a standard five-speed auto gearbox. Sadly, the Crew Chief was just a concept created for Jeep’s annual Easter Safari, but the company has announced that the next-gen Wrangler will be available in double-cab configuration. If it’s one 10th as cool as the Crew Chief, we’ll be happy.
Text: GG van Rooyen