It’s anecdotally said that the term bakkie originally derived from the old Datsun 1400 Champs, so called because they had a small loadbox: A small bak, or bakkie. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate, but the car that’s come to define that term in South Africa is without a doubt the legendary Toyota Hilux.
That Classic Cool Feature – Ultimate Reliability
The Hilux is unusual in that it doesn’t do anything particularly special or innovative as far as it’s design is concerned. When the car debuted in 1968 it construction was bog standard for a car of its type. It used a typical setup of suspension set-up of A-arms and coil springs in front and a live axle with leaf springs in the back. Like so much of how Toyota operated, it was a simple case of doing simple things really, really well. This meant that things very rarely broke; and when they did break, the solution was obvious and easy to apply. Which is exactly what you need in a workhorse. It’s a design philosophy that’s worked well for Toyota over the car’s history, given the Hilux has been the top selling bakkie in SA for over 45 years.
Why is it special?
Because it’s indestructible. The Hilux is that rare instance where a car’s legend is actually true. When popular BBC car show, Top Gear, decided to to test for themselves the the truth of the car’s reputation they found it more than up to the task. In the guise of a 1988 Diesel variant, Jeremy Clarkson, crashed it into tree, set it on fire, submerged it in the sea and even dropped a building on it. Despite that horrendous treatment, the bruised and battered Hilux continued to run and claimed a place of honour in the Top Gear studios for years to come.
Can you get it today?
Yes. Toyota’s Hilux has been in continual production since it’s debut in 1968. Toyota have continued to refine the car over the almost 50 year lifespan, but the cars toughness has remained consistent.