Bakkies are used all over the world, but there are some countries where the bakkie is more important. South Africa is such a country and the Aussies’ veneration of their ute is legendary. And then there are the Americans.
Americans call their bakkies trucks and some of these are big enough to qualify for that moniker in South Africa. Bakkie drivers can be divided into two rough categories: those who use their bakkies to make a statement and those who use theirs for work, although there is some overlap.
The statement bakkie is normally very new. It will have extreme all-terrain tyres, running boards, a bull bar with spotlights and a winch, a roll bar with spotlights, an elevated air intake . . . you get the idea. I will see your SUV and raise you this double cab. Nothing wrong with a statement bakkie, that is what this writer would get should he ever get into bakkies.
Then there is the working bakkie, the vehicle used every day as part of someone’s job. The farmer, the plumber, the builder, people like that. Their bakkies will have normal tyres, at a pinch be a club-cab, and show a decided lack of expensive bits that can easily break. They can be new, because every car is new once, but most are older. They are well maintained, but carry the scars of everyday hard use. And they normally boast very high mileage for their age.
Working bakkies are known for high mileage. You often hear of a bakkie with 500 000 kilometres or 750 000 kilometres on the clock. There are stories about a guy with a courier business in Namibia who trades in his bakkies when they reach 1 000 000km.
But what about 1 000 000 miles? 1.6 million kilometres? Brian Murphy has a door-to-door courier service in Chicago and the Great Lakes region in the States. His 2007 Nissan Frontier 2.5 petrol has just reached 1m miles in 13 years, a lot of it urban driving. The Americans call the Nissan Navara the Frontier, just like they call the Nissan X-Trail the Rogue and the Nissan Qashqai the Rogue Sport.
Most of us get nervous when our odometer clicks over 100 000. To be fair, Brian’s Nissan bakkie has had its share of mechanical incidents. He had to replace the radiator after a mere 760 000km, the timing chain at 1 120 000km and get a new clutch shortly after at 1.3-million kilometres.
So when Brian’s Frontier/Navara reached the magical 1-million miles, Nissan made him an offer he could not refuse. They offered to swop Brian’s 2007 mileage monster for a brand-new 2020 3.8-litre V6 Nissan Navara/Frontier.
The million-miler was shipped back to the factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, where it was made. It will be displayed there as a testament to the design and build quality that made it the ultimate working bakkie, sorry, truck.