WORK­HORSE TO SHOW PONY

DIS­COV­ER­ING THE ORI­GINS OF THE MOD­ERN SUV

New Zealand Classic Car - - Front Page - Ash­ley Webb Ed­i­tor

As I sat down at my com­puter to write this ed­i­to­rial for our De­cem­ber is­sue, it sud­denly dawned on me that it’s been al­most a year since I took over the helm of New Zealand Clas­sic Car. Where has that year gone? And what a year it’s been. I have to ad­mit that it’s cer­tainly kept me on my toes, to say the least, and I’m sure you’ll have no­ticed by now the sub­tle de­sign changes made through­out the mag­a­zine as we’ve been striv­ing to make each is­sue look and read bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous month’s. From the feed­back that we’ve had, the changes have been well re­ceived, and, thanks to the loyal sup­port of our read­ers, the growth in copy sales has in­creased 10 per cent this year.

Look­ing at the cover of this month’s is­sue, you’ll no­tice a slight change in tack — you may even have thought you’d picked up the wrong mag­a­zine. The growth in pop­u­lar­ity of SUVS and 4x4s in this country, as in most other coun­tries, isn’t some­thing we can ig­nore. A short com­mute any­where in New Zealand will con­firm the num­bers of late-model SUVS on the road, and the Ford Ranger con­tin­ues to top the sales charts with a 5.5 per cent share — a com­fort­able margin above the Toy­ota Hilux and the ever-pop­u­lar Toy­ota Corolla. The Holden Colorado and Mit­subishi Tri­ton make it four pickup trucks in the Septem­ber top five.

Quite stag­ger­ing sta­tis­tics, but hardly sur­pris­ing when you con­sider that many of us spent a fair por­tion of our early years driv­ing 4x4s, par­tic­u­larly if we grew up on a farm or in a ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment. My fa­ther was in­volved in a labour-hire business back in the early to mid ’70s, and, along with a few Toy­ota vans, there were also a cou­ple of FJ40 Land Cruis­ers as part of the com­pany fleet. I man­aged to com­man­deer one of the FJ40S when­ever pos­si­ble, and, al­though it felt quite agri­cul­tural, es­pe­cially com­pared with my Holden Monaro GTS, I just loved ev­ery mo­ment be­hind the wheel and wished that I’d been in a po­si­tion to buy one. You’ve only got to look at the prices that these ve­hi­cles fetch in to­day’s mar­ket to re­al­ize how de­sir­able such 4x4 clas­sics have be­come.

It’s these sturdy old work­horses that we have fond mem­o­ries of — ve­hi­cles such as the Toy­ota Land Cruiser and Ford pickup, and let’s not for­get the go-any­where Range Rover — so, with this in mind, we de­cided to look at how they’ve evolved over the decades and mor­phed into the lux­u­ri­ous cruis­ers that we see on the roads to­day.

I hope you en­joy the read — it’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to our usual but still 100-per-cent New Zealand Clas­sic Car.

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