Australian focus. Global relevance.

This website is all about utes, pickups, tray-tops and cab-chassis, be they single-cabs, extra-cabs, crew-cabs, 4×2 or 4×4, petrol or diesel, modern or classic etc.

Plus full chassis SUVs (we call ‘em Truck Wagons) and even vans if they have historical significance or a solid work ethic.

Its purpose is to provide lots of useful and interesting tips and information for the benefit of owners, potential buyers and enthusiasts. It is updated several times a week.

These vehicles are amongst the toughest and most versatile vehicles on the planet. That’s why we like them and we know that’s why lots of other people like them, too.

They originate from world regions as diverse as Australia, Asia, Europe and the US, but all share a common ‘dual purpose’ quality – work hard all week and play hard all weekend.

They offer such a big choice of body/engine options and aftermarket accessories that they can be tailor-made to suit any lifestyle or job requirement, from family weekend fun machine to a tradie’s workshop-on-wheels.

We’re not only interested in the latest and greatest. These trucks share a fascinating global heritage, too, so we’re just as enthusiastic about all the classic models and their histories no matter where they come from.

Plus all the modified versions, from custom campers and specialised work trucks to show ponies, all-out competition specials and everything in between. Even small scale collectables, radio-controlled models and games are on our radar.

So, if it’s got anything to do with trucks, you’ve come to the right place. And to get the best viewing experience,  we recommend using the Firefox browser which is free to download.

 

FAQ

So, what is a ‘truck’?

We’ve been asked that question many times. And it’s harder to define than you think, because these types of trucks are sold all over the world and each country or region has its own names and interpretations.

Wikipedia is just one mouse click away, so it’s always a good place to start. Wiki describes a “pickup truck” as being:

“A light motor vehicle with an open-top rear cargo area (bed) which is almost always separated from the cab, to allow for chassis flex when carrying or pulling heavy loads.”

Wiki also says it is “built like a mini version of a two-axle heavy truck, with a frame providing structure, a conventional cab (and) a leaf spring suspension on the rear wheels.”

In North American terms, where full-size pickups adhere to this specific body-on-frame architecture, that’s a pretty good definition. And it can be applied just as well to the current crop of pickup trucks sourced from Asian and European makers, too.

However, in the US and other parts of the world, particularly Australia and New Zealand, there are also “light motor vehicles with an open-top rear cargo area” known as “coupe utilities” in the US or “utes” in Aus/NZ.

These utilities mostly feature two-door cabins and are derived from 2WD passenger cars, sharing the same spot-welded sheet steel ‘unibody’ construction (ie body and chassis in one inseparable unit) but with an integral cargo area over the rear wheels.

Or in the case of the Aussie AU-BA-BF-FG Falcon ute, a hybrid version consisting of a unibody engine bay and two-door cab mated to a stout rear chassis frame and leaf springs, designed for cab-chassis applications up to one tonne.

So, do these “coupe utilities” or “utes” still qualify as trucks, given their passenger car origins? Of course they do. And damn good ones at that.

In fact, Wikipedia says it best again: “Australians define a ute as any commercial vehicle that has an open cargo carrying space, but requires only a passenger car license to drive. This includes coupe utilities (utes), pickup trucks and tray-backs (flatbed pickup trucks). An example of the broadness of this definition is that anything from a Ford F250 to a Proton Jumbuck can be called a ute.”

So, as far as Truck Jungle is concerned, it doesn’t matter what you call it – ute (Australia/NZ), pickup (USA), bakkie (South Africa), half truck (Egypt), tender (Israel) or even a slipper (Romania), they’re all trucks to us and all welcome here!

 

What is your comments policy?

We really like your comments at Truck Jungle. Interaction with our readers, during which you can express different points of view, share your experiences and knowledge, or provide useful feedback about the site makes it a great place to visit.

Some comments may be edited but purely for the purpose of clarity.

Posting comments online is really just another form of conversation between two or individuals, so it requires a level of civility and mutual respect to maintain a ‘feel good’ factor for everyone involved.

We welcome strong, passionate opinions and lively debate. However, there is a clear line between expressing strong, passionate opinions and making offensive or defamatory remarks. We know when that line has been crossed. And so do you.

Therefore, we reserve the right to delete comments that are considered not to have any redeeming feature, be they personal attacks, threats, foul language, racist comments, unfounded accusations, spam etc.

Thanks for your understanding and help in making Truck Jungle a great place to visit.

 

Who’s behind Truck Jungle?

Mark Oastler

Mark Oastler

Mark Oastler – Editor/Publisher

I live in Melbourne, Australia with my wife and two children. If you’re into Aussie touring car racing and muscle cars, you’ve probably seen me around the place.

During the past 20 years or so, I’ve worked as a TV commentator for the Seven Network (1990-1996) and Ten Network (1997-2003) covering Aussie touring car racing. I’ve also done stints as editor of Street Machine (1996-1999) and more recently as founding editor of Australian Muscle Car (2002-2010).

It’s a no brainer I love motor racing and muscle cars, but behind the scenes I’ve always had a serious passion for this breed of trucks, too. There’s just something about their aggressive stance, rugged construction, unmatched versatility and great history that really appeals to me.

The start of my truck passion goes back to when I was a pimply-faced kid growing up in Sydney in the 1970s and actively involved in the volunteer bushfire brigade movement.

Back then I was surrounded by heaps of tough 4×4 trucks. Many were WWII survivors, converted to heavy tankers and still in active service, including the classic 4×4 Ford/Chevrolet Blitz wagons and even bigger 6×6 Studebaker troop carriers.

I was in awe of not only their longevity (already 30-plus years old back then) but also their incredible off road capabilities, given that most had to carry several thousand litres of water plus equipment and crew into and out of some hazardous – and potentially deadly – situations. I’m still in awe of those great trucks.

Not surprisingly, my fire fighting mates and I were heavily into off-roading, too. Today’s huge range of affordable 4×4 pickups didn’t exist back then, so we were in beaten-up Land Rovers, Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrols and Jeeps. I owned a CJ-5 Jeep, which was a heck of a good off-roader and damn near unstoppable in the rough.

My much loved CJ5 Jeep. It was a locally-delivered model with the Ford Falcon’s gutsy inline six engine and three-speed gearbox. I quite often drove it around in the summer months with the doors off like this, because they only took seconds to remove and with that metal roof and no floor covering it could get pretty hot inside. 

Even so, my dream machine was always one of the big dollar 4×4 imported pickups like a Ford F100/F250. I could never afford one of those, of course, but that didn’t stop me wanting one. So I bought a Falcon XB ute instead, which turned out to be one of the best vehicles I’ve owned.

During the working week it was loaded with cement mixers, scaffolding and brickie’s tools. On weekends it had a motocross bike, tent and esky on board. Sold it with more than 200,000 kms up on its original 250cid six engine and auto trans, too. A really good jigger, that taught me the unmatched versatility of a truck.

Big thumbs-up from a then 19-year-old boofhead bricklayer confirms that my XB Falcon 500 ute with 250 cid six auto was one of the best vehicles I’ve owned. GT bonnet and Hotwire mags were fitted by its previous owner. Loved it!

Some of my other favourite daily drivers have included a Chevy C20 tray-top (wish I owned that one today) and a very sad-looking Land Cruiser ute with a super long bed that was great for collecting big loads of firewood.

In the early ‘80s I became old enough to upgrade my driver’s license to full ‘HC’ (Heavy Combination), which led to driving a variety of big rigs in Australia and the UK, including single and double-decker buses, single and twin-steer rigids and short haul semi-trailers.

Through my involvement in the local automotive media, I’ve also been fortunateto have sampled many utes/pickup trucks over the years, including all the popular Australian and Japanese models and some of the imported small volume, large scale US iron from Ford, Chevrolet/GMC and Dodge.

So, after two decades focused on pretty much nothing else but motor racing and muscle cars, in 2011 the time was finally right to change direction and create a special place where I could indulge in all things ‘truck’ with other like-minded enthusiasts. And here it is. Welcome to the jungle!

Joe Kenwright

Joe Kenwright

Joe Kenwright – Features Editor

I live in Melbourne and I’m still operating an independent research agency covering the motor industry that I started back in 1987.

Before then you might have found me working for one of the car companies or related government departments. In even earlier days, I operated heavy machinery on farms and road construction to fund a university degree. I still proudly hold my heavy vehicle license.

From 1987 until 2002, you could have been driving a car that I helped to choose or buy, as I also advised or assisted in the purchase of many fleet and private vehicles of all ages.

During this period, I worked closely with the late Robert Shannon, a friend and fellow enthusiast, in his company’s transition from insurance agency to a national classic car corporation.

I’ve also been the founding editor of several industry publications including Glass’s Older Cars Guide, Excelerate (the official HSV magazine) and Blueprint (the official FPV magazine), reflecting my passion for powerful and interesting vehicles regardless of age, application or brand loyalty.

I’ve also worked as a contributor to Car Australia, VW Power, Motor, Street Machine and RACV’s RoyalAuto, including a stint as used car editor for Which Car? magazine. Between 1995 and 2002, you might have read my columns that appeared in newspapers around Australia and I have also written several books.

Prolific material I produced for a pioneering truck publication in the 1990s came to an abrupt end after some advertisers objected to my tell-it-as-it-was coverage of the sub-standard local light commercial market back then.

One of the few factory aluminium-bodied 1951 Austin A40 vans left in the world. I bought it because my parents had one that doubled as work and family transport  – and to stick it up those who are attempting to re-write Aussie history with a US bent. In the days of post-war fuel rationing, a wide range of frugal British commercials like these kept working Australians mobile and free of US debt until the first Holden commercials arrived in the early 1950s.

In 2002, I returned full time to the automotive industry as part of the team that established Ford Performance Vehicles. After completing several related projects, I returned to independent new and used vehicle research in 2004.

I then spent four years as a consumer advice columnist, vehicle reviewer and behind-the-scenes industry analyst for the CarPoint/CarSales websites, before TopGear Australia  joined Unique Cars and Australian Muscle Car as publishers of my written work.

My drive time talkback segment with Doug Aiton on Melbourne radio was one of the industry’s longest running motoring programs. I also made the occasional appearance on The Car Show (Nine Network).

These days you’re just as likely to find me working under a car, renovating something, kayaking or cycling in the middle of nowhere, rock ‘n’ roll dancing, or camping. That’s why there’s usually a van and a ute in my garage.

My current daily driver (see below) is one of the last examples of the 2.5 litre Nissan D40 Navara ST-X models. Like my previous Ford Courier, I’ve fitted a few aftermarket accessories tailored to suit my lifestyle.

I have now owned more than 70 vehicles, many of which were commercials bought as part of various business ventures along the way. Hands-on restoration of anything interesting is a passion. I have no particular loyalties for any marque or model, providing they stand scrutiny in meeting owner expectations.

Classic trucks and commercials on my personal wish list include a 1946 Chevrolet coupe utility (the one with the truck front), 1958 Ford Mainline Star model coupe utility, 1957-59 Holden FC panel van and a late 1980s VW Transporter with a Porsche flat-six in the tail. A nice, original AP6 Valiant ute would also prompt a second look.

In addition to the Navara and A40 van, I currently own a 1951 Ford Custom twin-spinner, 2008 Mitsubishi Colt and 1985 Porsche Carrera 3.2. But with my track record on vehicle turnover, this profile’s going to need regular updating! TJ

 

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