Monthly Archives: August 2012

Hyundai has updated its hot selling one-tonne iLoad van with a less powerful but more fuel efficient diesel engine and new six-speed manual transmission combination.

The iLoad’s latest generation 2.5 litre turbo-diesel engine mated to the new six-speed manual delivers a very frugal 8.0 litres/100 kms for a 6.0 percent reduction in fuel consumption.

Another version of the turbo-diesel – with more power and torque – is also available with a five-speed automatic, which results in an even better 8.0 percent drop in fuel consumption (8.8 litres/100 kms).

Hyundai’s four cylinder, common rail-direct injection turbo-diesel now features two types of turbochargers tailored to optimise fuel efficiency with the different drive characteristics of the five-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions.

The new six-speed manual is matched to a conventional Waste Gate Turbo (WGT) design, while the five-speed is matched to a Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT). These engine/transmission pairings cannot be changed around.

Peak power for the WGT with six-speed manual is 100 kW @ 3800 rpm (25kW less than the previous model) with peak torque of 343Nm (also down from 392kW) on tap from just 1500 rpm through to 2500 rpm.

Maximum power for the VGT with five-speed auto is higher at 125kW @ 3600 rpm with an impressive rise in torque from 392kW in the previous version to 441Nm @ 2000 rpm.

Hyundai is one of few vehicle manufacturers that designs and manufactures its own transmissions in-house. Its new six-speed manual features multi-cone synchros for a quick and accurate shift action and includes a button-operated reverse gear lock-out to make sure you don’t stab it into the wrong cog.

It’s no wonder the Korean-built van is selling its sliding doors off in Australia, having knocked the venerable Toyota HiAce from its perch with a combination of rugged build quality, four-star ANCAP safety with dual airbags, semi-bonneted ‘car-like’ driving position, lots of standard features and excellent value for money.

iLoad also comes with Hyundai’s capped price servicing offer and five year/unlimited km warranty.

It’s increasingly the choice of tradesmen, delivery drivers and a myriad of small business owners that like its traditional leaf-spring/live axle rear wheel drive layout, high ground clearance (just under 200mm), ABS four wheel disc brakes (ESC optional) and rack and pinion steering.

Some tradies with 4×4 and 4×2 trucks featuring traditional body-on-frame construction may sneer at the iLoad’s unitary body design, but this van’s hefty 2047kgs kerb weight tells you a lot about the robust body structure, thick load floor and large sub-frames below it that can carry more than a tonne (1113 kgs).

It can also tow up to 2.0 tonnes (braked) and 750kgs (non-braked) and lug up to 125 kgs of extra gear on the roof using Hyundai’s triple-rack system. Its advertising claim of being ‘one tough mother’ doesn’t lack credibility in this context.

With a 3200mm wheelbase, which is about the same as a modern Crew Cab pickup, the overall cargo area is 4426 litres or 4.3 cubic metres. There’s also 1260mm between the rear wheel housings, so it will easily swallow all local and international pallet sizes with enough length to carry two of them if need be.

It also features sliding doors on both sides for easy loading and unloading and a large lift-up tailgate that doubles as an excellent sheltered workplace. We see lots of these iLoads around the place with the tailgate being used for just that (see below).

Twin barn-type doors are also available as a factory option (see previous image), with removable hinge pins that allow them to swing open to a full 180 degrees. These offer plenty of room for a forklift to manoeuvre and would be the right choice if your business involves lots of loading and unloading of heavy items.

The iLoad offers a choice of seating options with either a single row of seats for three adults including driver, or up to six adults in the double-row Crew Van configuration.

This six-seat option is proving a tempting choice for owners with a dual work-and-play requirement, too, with room to carry family or friends plus lockable carry space for bikes and literally a mountain of gear.

Hyundai Genuine Accessories include a large range of roof racks and other lifestyle accessories designed to meet the needs of businesses large and small.

iLoad is also available with an entry level 2.4 litre petrol engine and five-speed manual transmission which kicks off at $29,990. The latest 2.5 litre CRDi diesel and six-speed manual combo starts at $34,990.

Stack that up against its serious rivals – which are in the high $30K to low $40K price bracket – and you can see why this kick-arse Korean diesel van is selling up a storm. TJ

Engine: 2.8 litre Duramax in-line four cylinder common rail-direct injection turbo-diesel

Power: 132kW @ 3800 rpm   Torque: 470Nm @ 2000 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic with sequential manual shift option

Construction: Body-on-frame

Suspension: (F) upper and lower wishbone, coil springs (R) leaf springs, live axle

Payload: 1186 kgs

Towing: 3.5 tonne (braked)

Economy: 9.1 litres/100 kms

Price: $46,490 (plus on-road costs)


Holden says that its all-new Colorado one-tonne ute is a “truly global vehicle” with the strength and versatility required to meet the needs of customers in more than 60 markets worldwide.

Not that that there’s anything unusual about that, given that other one-tonne trucks produced by Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford/Mazda, Volkswagen etc in this increasingly competitive vehicle market are also designed with the highest volume of global sales in mind.

The design and development of GM’s new one-tonner, which reportedly cost the corporation $2 billion, was managed by an international design team which included Holden engineers.

Executive Director of Engineering, Greg Tyus, claims the Colorado amassed 2.5 million kms of testing across five continents. It was essentially designed in Brazil with input from Thailand and Australia.

The base chassis frame architecture is shared with Isuzu’s new D-Max. From there, the Isuzu and GM products diverge to a far greater extent in drivetrains than the joint development program by Ford and Mazda with their latest Ranger/BT50 offerings, which differ mainly in body designs (do they ever!) and interior trim.

The Colorado is built in GM’s assembly plant at Rayong in Thailand and its Duramax four cylinder turbo-diesel engines are produced for this truck (the D-Max uses Isuzu engines) at GM’s engine plant right next door.

The bold styling, particularly the big bullnose front, has strong American influences with those unmistakable twin-slot design cues from Chevrolet’s giant Silverado pickup. There is nice continuity in the side profile, too, with a distinct wedge-shaped pressing that runs the full length of the side panels and visually ties the style-side box to the cab.

Our test vehicle

The new Colorado is sold in three body styles – Single Cab, Space Cab and Crew Cab – across four model grades – DX (4×2 only), LX, LT and LTZ. That adds up to 26 different model combinations, all with a minimum one-tonne payload rating.

There are also two powertrain options, starting with the entry level 2.5 litre turbo-diesel rated at 110kW power/350Nm torque with a 3.0 tonne (braked) towing capacity. The 2.5 engine is only available in the 4×2 DX.

Top level is the larger 2.8 litre turbo-diesel, with 132kW of power and 470Nm of torque when teamed with the six-speed auto but reduced to 440Nm when matched with the five-speed manual gearbox. The 2.8 boasts a class-leading braked towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes.

Our test vehicle was a DX model (entry level for the 2.8 range) with six-speed automatic transmission and fitted with several items from the new Genuine Holden Accessories range. These included a lock-up canopy, cargo liner, tow bar kit, bonnet protector and thick rubber floor mats to keep our grubby boots off the carpet.

Life with a canopy

We were glad to get a hold of this LX with a factory canopy installed, because it provided a valuable insight into life with a one-tonne pickup that we don’t normally get to experience.

The Holden canopy made from the latest lightweight composite materials is a tough, well designed and good looking option, with lockable swing-up rear and side windows and sliding front glass panels which when retracted allow you to clean the rear window of the truck cab.

A canopy is great if you need to carry things out of the weather or want the extra security of a lockable and spacious load area (the tailgate also locks). Or, with the tailgate down and all the glass open, a breezy place where you can sit out of the hot sun at a picnic, the beach or local footy match.

However, there are several other practical issues to consider, that you may not be aware of:

Water and dust

Even though the canopy is well sealed around all its joints and windows, there are no rubber seals around the truck’s steel tailgate. This lets water and dust leak into the load area, which depending on your load (cardboard boxes, mattresses etc) could cause some minor damage.

Dirty rear glass

There is no heater/demister to clear the canopy’s rear screen on frosty mornings. There is also no wiper/washer, which means that when a film of dirty water inevitably starts to build up on the glass there is no way you can clean it while driving.

On several occasions during our test, the rear glass got so dirty that we couldn’t see through it which meant relying totally on the door mirrors. This is annoying when driving and potentially dangerous when reversing, particularly given the number of driveway-related incidents involving small children and SUVs these days.

And given the lack of a reversing camera or at least Rear Park Assist sensors as standard equipment on any Colorado model right up to LTZ (although RPA is available as a factory accessory for $620), Holden and any other one-tonne truck maker that doesn’t have these fitted as standard equipment would be well advised to look at what is now a glaring safety omission.

Interior light

The canopy is also equipped with a bright interior light which is handy when the sun goes down. However, it is controlled by a switch mounted on the light’s base, so you could easily walk away for the night with a push of the central locking key fob behind you and not realise you’d left the light on.

We did it once at dusk but fortunately noticed it several hours later and avoided a potential flat battery, but only because we took the bins out that night.

Load restrictions

If you need to carry stuff that’s longer than the load floor, like the wheelbarrow and step ladder shown above, you can’t close the tailgate unless you rest the handles and legs up on top of the tailgate. But because you then can’t close the rear window lid, this means you have to drive with it raised. And you can’t lock it when you leave it, either.


What will it carry?

The PX Ford Ranger is considered the current benchmark for one-tonne trucks, so a fair comparison with the entry level LX Colorado Crew Cab would be the entry level XL Ranger Double Cab.

They both have one-tonne plus payloads and similar braked towing capacities that exceed 3.0 tonnes. However, the Colorado’s maximum 3.5 tonne rating just pips the Ranger’s 3.35 tonne figure. Fact is, we’re splitting hairs here about an extra 150 kgs, because any braked towing figure between 3.0-3.5 tonnes is plenty for trucks the size and weight of the Colorado.

In key dimensions, the load floor length of the Colorado pickup’s load box (1484mm) is 65mm shorter than the Ranger. In practical terms, that can mean the difference between being able to close the tailgate with a wheelbarrow laying straight or having to carry it diagonally across the load floor to allow enough room to close it. The load box at 1534mm is also 25mm narrower than the Ford’s.

The distance between the wheel arches inside the load area is 17mm narrower than the Ranger at 1122 mm, so standard 900mm-wide builder sheets will lay flat between them and the standard 1100mm x 1100mm Asian pallet will also squeeze in there with 11mm each side to spare.

Interior comfort and safety

The interior is spacious with all controls easy to use and identify (manual version shown above). The leather-bound steering wheel is a nice touch, the column is adjustable for tilt only and the driver’s seat has enough adjustment for different shapes and sizes to get reasonably comfortable.

It’s also loaded with Bluetooth connectivity, USB input with IPod connectivity and MP3 compatible CD player.

There’s plenty of room on the rear bench seat, too, with generous window glass and sufficient rake on the backrest for a comfortable seating position. There’s also enough head room for 1.8 metre tall blokes like us, with long torsos and boofy heads.

The location of the B pillar relative to the back seat can still make getting in an out a bit of a squeeze if you’re 1.8 metres tall with size 12 boots on, but overall the ergonomics of the Crew Cab are easy to get along with.

The Crew Cab’s passenger survival cell has earned the maximum five-star ANCAP crash safety rating, with its use of high strength steel side intrusion beams combined with driver/passenger front airbags and full length side-curtain airbags.

Where will it go?

The Colorado is designed to go anywhere the current generation of global one-tonners can go, with on-the-fly selection of high range 4×4 and low range being as quick and easy as turning the knob on the console another notch.

The Colorado’s two-speed transfer case and limited slip differentials will get you in and out of most off road situations, even though it lacks the Ranger’s more sophisticated ELD (Electronic Locking Differential) and HDC (Hill Descent Control) designed to cope with some more extreme off road challenges.

How’s it drive?

The Colorado has good, rattle-free build integrity and a solid feel on the road. It feels big, too, being the same length as the Ranger but about 80 kgs heavier and 140 mm wider. The Duramax’s 470Nm of lazy turbo-diesel torque belies the fact this Crew Cab weighs just over two tonnes (2019 kgs).

The engine can feel a bit harsh and noisy when revved firmly between 2000-3000 rpm. We produced a best fuel consumption figure of 10.5 litres/100 km combining local road commuting, off road driving and highway use. Holden claims a best of 9.1.

The automatic transmission is a smooth operator up and down the ratios, with the optional sports shift available if you need to hold gears longer during heavy haulage or towing.

However, this sequential shift design (like Mitsubishi) is the opposite of the more usual code of pulling the stick backwards to shift up and pushing it forward to shift down, which may or may not be an issue depending on driver preference.

The Colorado also has Electronic Stability Control across all models incorporating ABS, EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution) and TCS (Traction Control System); a suite of features that is quickly becoming standard issue in one-tonne pickups given their dual work and play roles.

Ride quality was generally good on the different roads and dirt tracks we tested it on, with front coil springs replacing the torsion bars used in the previous Isuzu-based models and the usual big leaf springs and live axle under the rear. For a truck designed to carry more than a tonne and tow up to 3.5 tonnes, the unladen ride quality is a good compromise.


If we could suggest any improvements to the Colorado’s driving experience, it would be to tighten up the overly soft or vague feel of the steering. A more direct, higher ratio with less turns lock to lock would be ideal. It currently feels more like a recirculating ball-type steering box than a rack and pinion.

Whilst we understand the need for these controls to have a certain amount of compliance to absorb the abuse of rugged off road use, in our opinion the Aussie-designed and engineered Ford Ranger currently sets the bar at where these compromises should be.

In a nutshell, for a vehicle designed by an international team, it feels like there’s too much American influence  here. If that is the case, we hope Holden’s Australian engineers have more input when the first Colorado upgrade comes around. And that applies to its Colorado 7 truck wagon derivative due by 2013.

Even so, the new Colorado represents a generational leap ahead of its Isuzu-based past. It’s a solid, well-built truck that offers class-leading towing capacity and five-star passenger safety with plenty of model choices and accessories to tailor it to suit most needs and tastes.

And it slots into that familiar mid-$40,000 price bracket in which its competitors from Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Isuzu etc all compete for buyers in, so it’s just made that decision even harder. TJ

For detailed specifications on the Holden Colorado LX 4×4 Crew Cab and other models, check out Holden’s official website at:

If you’ve never seen a 700 hp V8 Trophy Truck in action, tighten your seat belts for a ride on the wild side with Californian off-road racing superstar Robby Gordon.

Trophy Trucks are designed to resemble everyday pickup trucks, but under their lightweight composite bodywork is a full length 4130 chome-moly tube frame with independent front A-arm suspension and twin shock absorbers per wheel that offer more than 700mm of travel.

Upfront is a full-house naturally aspirated V8 race engine generating in excess of 700 hp at a spine-tingling 8000 rpm. This immense power reaches the rear wheels through a modified automatic transmission and either a multi-link live rear axle or frame-mounted spool carrier with independent A arms either side.

Trophy Trucks are devastatingly fast and awesome to watch (some would say frightening), attracting huge crowds to famous off-road racing classics like the Baja 1000 and Baja 500 events held each year across the length and breadth of the Mexican peninsula’s brutal desert-like landscape.

Robby Gordon is the son of off-road racing legend ‘Baja Bob’ Gordon with a winning pedigree that includes seven SCORE International championships, three Baja 1000 wins, three Baja 500 wins and seven stage victories in the Dakar Rally to name a few. Yeah, this guy knows how to drive!

This first of two video clip runs just over a minute and shows Robby in pre-event testing for the 2008 Baja 1000 in his Chevy-powered Trophy Truck.

Shame about the head-banging heavy metal soundtrack that tends to drown out the roar of the big Chevy V8, but Gordon’s incredible car control alone makes it worth a click. And do yourself a favour – watch it in full screen mode!

Now that you’ve seen a Trophy Truck in action from the outside, it’s time to go inside with Robby for the first five minutes of the 2009 Baja 500.

The speeds he reaches through Mexican suburban streets jammed with spectators are beyond belief, as are the incredible revs of the Chevy V8 as it struggles to get all off its 700+bhp to the ground.

A real highlight of how off-the-planet hard they drive these monsters is at about the 3.00 minute mark as Robby approaches a slower competitor and sets up a pass. Won’t tell you too much from here, but he seems to be just as talented on two wheels as he is on four! This is awesome in-truck footage. TJ

The catalyst for the short-lived Ford XY Falcon 4×4 ute was the Australian Army, according to the late Howard Marsden, who was head of Ford Special Vehicles at the time.

In an interview conducted in 2001, Marsden said that the four cylinder-powered Land Rovers being used by the Army at the time were proving to be too underpowered, given that they often had to lug heavy payloads of troops and equipment and cover huge distances.

So in the late 1960s, the Army put out a tender to local manufacturers for expressions of interest in building a new 4×4 light truck with a more powerful six cylinder engine that could out-perform their Land Rovers.

Given the potential for large volume government fleet sales for the successful tenderer, Ford decided it was a challenge worthy of tackling.

They certainly had the facilities and specialised knowledge to have a decent shot at it. Ford’s assembly plant in Brisbane already handled the finicky local assembly of imported 2WD F series trucks that required a fair degree of improvisation on the production line.

And for several years the Brisbane plant had been collaborating with Willys Motors (the local importer of Jeeps) in supplying complete engines and numerous other Falcon parts like clutches and pedal assemblies required for local assembly of CJ5/CJ6 Jeeps.

These resources, combined with the product planning expertise of Ford Special Vehicles, made Ford  well placed to tackle such a program. In fact Al Turner, Marsden’s predecessor, had already played a key role in development of Ford’s Fiera light truck for the burgeoning Asian market.

Given Ford’s existing ties with Willys Motors, it was decided that the easiest and most cost-effective answer to the Army light truck tender was to convert the existing six cylinder XY Falcon ute into a 4×4 version, using proven Jeep drivetrain hardware and transmission adapters etc that already existed for the CJ5/CJ6.

The greatest engineering challenge Ford faced was to install a complete leaf-sprung live axle assembly under the front of a Falcon ute that was never designed for such things.

Marsden recalled with some dismay how difficult this task proved to be, as the Falcon ute featured the same unibody construction (body and chassis combined as one unit) as its sedan sibling rather than the traditional and much stronger body-on-ladder-frame design employed by Land Rover and other 4×4 manufacturers.

As a result, new mounting points for the front leaf springs fabricated from steel plate had to be welded directly to the bodyshell’s underfloor. High-lift leaf springs and shocks raised the rear end of the utility to match the newly raised front end.

Another challenge was providing enough clearance between the front axle and the engine’s sump and exhaust system to allow for adequate suspension travel. The simple solution was to make new engine mounts that slanted the engine over to the right by several degrees.

This tilt was large enough to provide adequate sump-to-axle clearance, but it also required a wedge-shaped spacer to be fitted between the carburettor base and inlet manifold to compensate for this angle change and maintain the correct static float bowl levels.

Don’t worry how it looks, just make it work. The in-line six had to be slanted to the right to allow clearance between the sump and front diff. Note the extra bracing that tied the firewall to the shock absorber towers for extra chassis strength.

The Falcon’s 250 cid (4.1 litre) inline six had plenty of performance on tap, with 155 bhp (116kW) @ 4000 rpm and maximum torque of 240 ft/lbs (325Nm) available from a very low 1600 rpm.

A heavy duty 10-inch dry plate clutch, Borg Warner AS5 T15A three-speed full-synchro gearbox with floor-mounted Jeep gearshift and a Spicer Model 20 two-speed transfer case also with floor lever control got power to the front and rear wheels through one-piece propeller shafts.

Brakes were 11 x 2-inch drum brakes all round (typical fare for 4x4s of this era) with 16 x 4.5 inch steel rims on skinny 6.00 x 16 all-terrain tyres.

Ford also developed some useful accessories including a powerful 8000 lb PTO winch (shaft-driven from the transfer case), a heavy duty tow bar and military-style high canvas canopy to cover the load area.

With a kerb weight of only 3620 lbs (1642 kgs), a useful payload of 1380 lbs (625 kgs), excellent approach and departure angles and a lateral tilt angle up to 45 degrees, the Falcon 4×4 ute had impressive cross-country performance and a high torque-to-weight ratio with or without load due to its relatively light unibody construction.

Not that any of this mattered to the Army, because the military never got to the stage of even field-testing Ford’s prototype, Marsden revealed.

He recalled that during the vehicle’s development, the Army made it clear to Ford that even though the basic concept was right, it was never going to meet their extreme battlefield requirements without the proven strength and durability of a traditional body-on-frame construction.

Clearly this was a path Ford did not have the resources to follow, which was probably just as well because after seeing what else was (or wasn’t) available, the Army opted for Land Rover’s more powerful six cylinder version.

When one door closes…

Fortunately Ford’s work on the local Army truck tender didn’t go to waste, as public interest in the 4×4 ute was enormous after ‘spy’ photos of it being tested at the company’s vast vehicle proving ground at You Yangs in Victoria appeared in local motoring magazines.

Marsden said that it was purely public demand that swayed the company bean-counters to approve the XY Falcon 4×4 ute for series production, which he said also created an instant new market segment for Ford.

To understand the public clamouring for this ‘cross-over’ type of vehicle, one has to realise that Australia’s national road network in the early 1970s featured a lot more dirt roads than today and the noisy, rough-riding 4×4 vehicles of the era were nothing like the luxurious leather-lined SUVs we now take for granted.

So with the need to haul loads across vast poor quality roads in comfort, the appeal of this new hybrid vehicle that combined a half-tonne plus carrying capacity and four wheel drive with many of the creature comforts of a modern sedan, was understandable.

But there were serious structural problems which had to be solved first, because the standard Falcon ute body was not designed to cope with the high suspension load paths it was being subjected to as a 4×4 vehicle.

According to Marsden, body stress fractures resulting from rigorous off-road testing prior to production showed that the front end would need to be beefed up to cope with the pounding dished out by the heavy live axle crashing around beneath it.

Note metal frames stretching forward from the firewall on each side to boost front chassis rail strength. These frames also restricted steering lock, resulting in this vehicle’s notoriously large turning circle! Note also the spring hangers made from steel plate and axle clearance for the sump and exhaust created by slanting the engine to the right. Narrow shaft with uni-joint is the driveshaft from the transfer case for the Power Take Off (PTO) winch.

Ford came up with some effective – if fairly crude – engineering solutions. Light steel frames (hidden beneath the front mudguards) spanned from the firewall forward to the radiator support panel on each side to add much needed strength and rigidity to the chassis rails.

Another brace, fabricated from several peices of u-section steel plate welded together, tied each front spring tower rigidly to the firewall.

The pre-production testing also showed that the bodyshell wasn’t the only thing that needed beefing up, as the original Dana front axle chosen for the project also proved it was not up to the task.

A heavier Dana unit with stronger 3300 lb axle capacity was specified for the production model. The standard Falcon ute’s Borg Warner rear axle was retained, as its 2000 lb axle load rating was adequate for the task.

By this stage of the 4×4 ute’s development in mid-1971, the XY Falcon range (launched in October 1970) was approaching the end of its production run, with the all-new XA model due for release in March 1972.

Ford set aside a batch of 432 XY Falcon ute bodies (the reason for this unusual build number is not known) that were earmarked for the 4×4 production run in the second half of 1971.

According to Ford workers, those XY ute shells actually remained stockpiled in the backyard of the Brisbane plant for almost a year, as ordering and delivery of the new Dana front axles from the US caused crippling delays.

By the time the imported front axle units finally arrived, the new XA Falcon range had been on sale for months, which would present a real challenge to dealers trying to sell a superseded XY Falcon ute as a ‘new’ offering alongside the latest swoopy XA model (below).

However, given the amount of time and money the project had already consumed, it was decided to push ahead as Ford figured typical Falcon 4×4 ute buyers would be pragmatic mostly rural types that wanted them more for practical reasons than appearances.

Marsden recalled that each of the 432 XY 4×4 utes produced at the Brisbane plant were essentially hand-built. They also had to be assembled on weekends by a dedicated team of workers, as each vehicle required the fitting of unique parts that would have disrupted the flow of normal plant production lines during the working week.

And given the unplanned model overlap, they also scored some XA parts during their construction including the high back bench seat with integral head rests, column-mounted ignition key/steering column lock and screen-bonded rear view mirror.

When the 432 XY Falcon 4×4 utes finally went on sale in early 1973 (some say late 1972) for a base price of $3680 with full 12,000 mile/12 month factory warranty, there was considerable pent-up buyer demand and Ford sold every one of them. It was the best get-out-of-jail card FoMoCo could have played.

Why 432 buyers liked it

The XY Falcon 4×4 ute was head and shoulders ahead in performance, comfort and features when compared with the agricultural Land Rover, Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol offerings at the time.

For here was a rugged all-terrain light truck that not only offered a load area that was superior to its 4WD cab-chassis competitors, but its standard equipment list included a tonneau cover, sump guard, dual exterior rear view mirrors and a tinted laminated windscreen for starters.

Occupants enjoyed lots of sedan car features inside, too, which were unheard of in rival 4×4 trucks.

These included door-pull arm rests, padded dual swivelling sun visors, swivelling quarter-vent windows, padded dash panel, full ‘airflow’ cabin ventilation, collapsible steering column, ignition and steering column lock, two-speed heater/demister, two-speed electric windscreen wipers and washers and tasteful saddle trim upholstery.

Factory options included a winch, tow bar and high military-style canopy.

You could even request a dealer-installed Falcon GT front spoiler and several vehicles (including the one featured in the sales brochure) had one fitted.

Not that it did anything remotely aerodynamic at that height –it just looked good.

The front axle was also fitted with a pair of Warn ‘Power Lock’ free-wheeling hubs which were just starting to appear in the aftermarket.

With the turn of two small keyways on the face of each hub (you had to have a screwdriver or small coin handy) these hubs disengaged the wheels from the front drive axles.

This handy feature saved fuel and lots of unnecessary wear and tear on the drivetrain when four wheel drive was not required. And in this vehicle’s case, that would have been most of the time.


Why Ford killed it

Despite widespread demand from the public and motoring press to continue the 4×4 ute program with the XA model and beyond, Ford called it quits.

Numerous theories have abounded over the past four decades as to why, including claims that the 4×4 design could not meet tough new ADR crash safety standards, or that the new XA body design with its long door openings was not rigid enough.

According to Marsden, though, the decision not to continue was determined by the same accountants that had approved the XY production run. It was simply that Ford lost so much money on the Falcon 4×4 ute program that to start all over again with the XA just did not stack up as a sensible business case.

However, what the XY program did do was alert Ford to growing local demand for the more luxurious breed of 4×4 light truck that was doing big business in the US, as part a boom in what the Yanks were calling ‘recreational vehicles’ or ‘RVs’ for short.

The answer was to start imports of the 4×4 version of Ford’s popular F-series truck from the US, at a much higher price premium, to satisfy that market need. Which it did brilliantly of course. And, through private import companies, continues to this day. And we can thank the XY Falcon 4×4 ute for playing a part in that. TJ

Demand from the mining sector and other industries has prompted Toyota to finally develop a double cab one-tonne tray-top ute version of its venerable 70-Series LandCruiser range – and Australia will be the first market in the world to get it.

The new LC79 double cab, due on sale in late September, will be the fourth body style in the 70 Series range, joining the existing single cab ute, troop carrier and wagon variants.

It is effectively the LandCruiser 70 Series wagon body adapted to fit the 450mm longer wheelbase frame of the 70 Series cab-chassis model (3180mm).

Four factory-fitted ute tray options will be available including standard steel drop-side, heavy duty steel with checker-plate floor, a smoother timber floor option and lighter duty aluminium version. Tray dimensions are length 1800mm and width 1840mm.

The new one-tonne variant comes in two grades – Workmate and GXL. Both come with 130-litre fuel-tank capacity, 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 engine, five-speed manual transmission and part-time 4WD with two-speed transfer case. Seven exterior colours are offered.

The double-cab Workmate base model (shown here) comes with 16-inch steel split rims, aluminium side steps, vinyl seat facings and floor coverings, black bumpers and the extra-cost option of diff locks.

The up-spec GXL version gains 16-inch alloy wheels, over-fender flares, remote central locking, differential locks, fog lamps, power windows, carpet and cloth seats.

The new double cab also benefits from recent production upgrades to the range, most noticeably the addition of ABS on all grades, plus air-inlet snorkel mounted on the A pillar, improved seats, in-dash multi-function clock and audio/CD system with Bluetooth hands-free, audio streaming and voice-recognition phone/audio.

All nine LandCruiser 70 Series models share the same 32-valve V8 turbo-diesel engine with common-rail direct injection and intercooler.

The Euro IV-compliant V8 engine delivers 151kW @ 3400rpm. Peak torque of 430Nm is reached at just 1200rpm and stays there all the way to 3200rpm.

This V8 may well have the fattest torque curve of all Toyota’s engines, but it also falls short of the 470Nm peak torque figure of the PX Ford Ranger manual with its smaller capacity 3.2 litre five-cylinder turbo diesel. Go figure.

The 70-Series range has been available in various guises for several decades. The wagon version and the 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 were introduced as part of a major facelift in 2007. All variants adopted driver and front-passenger airbags in 2009.

According to Toyota, customer loyalty is remarkably strong, with the majority of buyers replacing an existing LandCruiser 70-series vehicle due to its well proven capabilities in the toughest conditions. It also has a braked towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes (760 kgs non-braked).

In mine pits, which this vehicle has been tailor-made for, vehicles have to cope with extreme dust in the dry and thick mud in the wet. Some mining industry vehicles are also fitted with rail arms so that they can travel along train tracks.

Toyota Australia’s executive director sales and marketing, Matthew Callachor, said mining companies and other regional and rural communities had been keenly waiting for the arrival of the new double cab.

“The 70-Series is so popular for the really tough jobs that customers have been modifying the wagon version to provide the flexibility of a double-cab ute,” Mr Callachor said.

“The double cab will carry five adults as well as providing a one-tonne payload for their heavy gear, such as surveying equipment,” he said.

“For other customers, including farmers, the large cabin will allow the kids to ride along, while also offering the touring benefits of a dual-cab ute along with the legendary LandCruiser toughness.”

*Look forward to a full test report of the new LC79 soon at Truck Jungle.

LC79 becomes the fourth variant of the popular 70 Series range that features wagon, Troop Carrier and cab-chassis models. The new double cab one-tonner is a mix-and-match of existing 70 series hardware.

LandCruiser 70 Series (excluding dealer and other charges)

Workmate $59,990
GXL $64,290

Troop Carrier
Workmate $65,790
GXL $67,990

Single Cab
Workmate $58,790
GX $60,790
GXL $62,790

Double Cab
Workmate $63,990
GXL $67,990


Holden’s 2008 TV commercial to promote the then-new VE Commodore Ute ranks as one of the finest automotive advertising campaigns seen on Australian television.

Five months in the making, it was created by Queensland-based Zoom Film & Television Pty Ltd and directed by Zoom founder Mark Toia. It was shot at various locations in Queensland, including the winding roads around Mount Mee west of Caboolture.

This 60-second visual feast shows some incredible ‘Transformer’ style digital effects, as various Holden ute models from the past evolve into the final VE model, starting with the 1953 FJ ute.

What’s also clever is how the background settings change, so it not only shows the changing Holden models but also captures the changing urban landscapes of Australia at those times. There’s even a tornado!

It’s a real treat for Holden lovers, because you get to see some of GM-H’s most iconic ute models from the past six decades being given the full Hollywood treatment. There’s FJ (1950s) EH (early 1960s) HK (late 1960s) HQ (early 1970s) VU (early 2000s) and of course VE. It’s awesome.


Holden Ute ‘Evolution’ TVC: behind the scenes

Making a TV commercial this good requires a big budget and a huge amount of work from a talented bunch of people. The only way to get a true understanding of what it takes is to have a look at what goes on behind the cameras.

This clip whips us through the whole process, from the four-day location shoots to the huge editing processes, using the most sophisticated digital technology to create such stunning visual effects.

Keep an eye out for the huge wind machine powered by a 5.0 litre Holden V8, to create wind speeds of up to 80 km/h to give a realistic look to the tornado scenes.

And the eyeball-spinning sequence at the end, showing the 3D storyboard, offline edit and final master all running together. See if you can also pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time you’re watching this last bit.


Chevrolet Silverado ‘Transformation’

And finally, here’s a comparison between Holden’s TV commercial and a similar idea screened before it on US television, promoting the 2007 Chevy Silverado and its Motor Trend magazine’s 2007 Truck Of The Year award.

The Chevy version is shorter and simpler than the Holden version, but the ‘Transformer’ theme that links the two ideas together is obvious. So, Chevrolet may have been first, but which GM division did it better?


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