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As South Africans prepare to celebrate their Heritage Day, and the country's rugby teams re-engage, Ford is claiming its own Mzansi bakkie tradition. The American automaker's local presence has featured a significant bakkie product portfolio, for decades.
Linking the current T6 Ranger to Ford's F-series farming bakkies of the 1960s, which was one of the most unique loadbox configuration vehicles ever produced in South Africa.
As the 1970s energy crisis altered consumer behaviour and made bakkie buyers more sensitive to fuel pricing, Ford responded by offering a smaller and more efficient bakkie mode range. It was introduced in 1971 and based on the third-generation Cortina.
The Cortina proved that a smaller bakkie, on a passenger vehicle platform, was desirable for South African conditions. Not all customers in the 1970s wanted to haul huge loads. For those who required a generously sized loadbox and the lighter controls of a passenger car, the Cortina bakkie was ideal.
Springbok Cortina before its restomods. Image: Quickpic
Restoring a green and gold classic
South Africans love their bakkies, and special edition double-cabs are currently all the rage. Proof of this is Ford's recent introduction of the Thunder, to headline its Ranger portfolio.
Ford's limited edition bakkies trace back to a marketing theory from the 1970s. One of the most coveted of all Cortina bakkies was Ford's affectionately termed "bokkie bakkie". Produced as a celebration of the incoming 1976 All Black rugby tour, it was finished in a lustrous green with contrasting gold details on the cab, roof and wheel hub caps.
One of the best examples of Ford's bokkie bakkie is Dr Brian Hodgson Rademeyer's. After inheriting the car form his grandfather, Brian opted for a comprehensive restoration.
Fist road trip after the restomods. Image: Quickpic
The special edition Cortina bakkie's original paint code was traced and used to source the appropriate powder coating, resulting in a brilliant finish. Even ardent bakkie fans will be surprised to learn that this single cab's striking colourway was an original factory-approved design and not the result of some inspired restomodding.
Beyond the rugby heritage colourway, Brian's bakkie also features meticulously reconstructed Springbok emblems, painted in a gold finish. The list of upgrades includes modern three-point safety belts, rubberised loadbox, tonneau cover and lighter leather interior, for superior comfort. Original Cortina bakkies had a vinyl trimmed cabin, with all the thigh stickiness that caused, driving in shorts – as one does, in a bakkie during summer. Brian's bakkie also features the very localised touch of having actual Springbok skin floor mats.
Mechanically, the bakkie is faithful in its originality, with a refurbished three-speed transmission and 2.5-litre V6 engine. That engine is an early example of Ford's Essex design, which would grow in size, over time, powering a long line of Cortina and Courier bakkies, as capacity increased to 3.0- and then 3.4-litres in its final Courier application.