WORKHORSE TO SHOW PONY
DISCOVERING THE ORIGINS OF THE MODERN SUV
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.