Ten Very Strange Pickups

A six-wheel G-Class, a cargo BMW M3 and other non-obvious ways to carry potatoes.

Speaking about pickups, we first think of the Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Silverado, and then try to turn the conversation to another topic: so this type of body has become commonplace. It is understandable: workhorses do not need design delights. Some are trying to shake up the market by offering unusual solutions like the Tesla Cybertruck. But this is the future, and we decided to remember the 10 most unusual pickups that are already driving on the roads. At least somewhere...

Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6x6

Even the ordinary G 63 AMG casts doubt on all the aerodynamics achievements of the century and still accelerates to 100 km/h faster than some hot-hatches. But making a six-wheel pickup out of it?

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It is not known for certain how the engineers from Affalterbach came up with this idea and how they were able to convince Daimler's bosses that the 6-meter 544-hp beast was exactly what the world needed. Perhaps, they were inspired by the work of the Frenchman Christian Leotard.

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Back in the ‘80s, he built six-wheel G-Class models, both with six-wheel and four-wheel drive. If Christian made vans, station wagons and pickups, Schulz assembled even convertibles and station wagons with a high roof. Basically, these crafts were sent to conquer the dunes in the Arab Emirates.

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In 2013, AMG went even further and took the chassis of the three-axle military G 320 CDI, «putting» elements from the latest at the time G 63 AMG on it. The front end was left unchanged, but there was a huge cargo compartment trimmed with bamboo wood and reinforced with a chrome plated roll hoop. Portal axles were installed instead of rigid ones, and the number of differential locks increased to five. Carbon fiber body parts are just for the sake of appearance: the pickup even with them weighs 3,850 kg.

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Perhaps, the only reason why this G-Class wears the AMG nameplate is that no other engine other than a 544-hp V8 would simply move the car. Still, its top speed does not exceed 160 km/h. But there is no place for a pickup truck on straight roads: a hundred six-wheelers have already scattered to the garages of Arab sheikhs and Russian millionaires.

Subaru Baja

The Baja is a page in Subaru's history that the brand probably wants to forget. For four and a half years of production, the Japanese were able to sell only 30,000 cars, although they initially expected 24,000 a year.

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It is understandable why the company took such a risk. Since its birth in 1993, the Legacy Outback has enjoyed hegemony in the absence of alternatives in the segment. Other all-terrain vehicles were very late: the Audi A6 Allroad appeared in 1999, and the Volvo XC70 Cross Country — in 2000. Things went so smoothly for the Outback that more than 20,000 cars were sold around the world in the first year of sales.

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And if the model is successful, why not make another modification? Subaru took a look at the US market, where pickups have always been favorites, and decided to replace the Outback with a small cargo platform. The resulting Frankenstein was named after one of the world's toughest races — the Baja 1000. The Baja had trendy frameless windows, the rear seats folded up and added useful space to the body volume, and the chrome roll hoops made the pickup look like a beach buggy.

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But still, Subaru did not achieve its goal. The Americans, seeing either a ute or a full-fledged pickup truck, just twirled their finger at the temple. The Baja was not saved by deliveries to other countries: Canada, Chile, South Africa and Germany. In 2006, the production was completed. But the Outback is feeling all right: it changed the sixth generation last year.

Holden HSV Avalanche XUT

There are so many unusual cars in the history of Holden that both hands are not enough to count them. The Australians have a special look at muscle cars, sports sedans, and pickups, among others. This same look once caught on to the Subaru Baja. Perhaps, the company decided to do something similar but with a more powerful motor. This oddity was not appreciated even in Australia.

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The Australian food recipe called «over-ute, under-pickup» differed from the Japanese counterpart in an increased power output. The main ingredient is the all-terrain HSV Avalanche. Cut off the trunk, attach the cargo platform, and put a 5.7-liter 367-hp V8 …

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Unfortunately, not everyone liked the dish because of its sharpness: the two-ton car consumed fuel on an industrial scale. And the main problem of the Baja and the Avalanche XUT was not exactly a lack of power: they were just not understood. The Japanese model existed only 5 years on the market, and the Australian — 3 years at all.

Renault Duster Oroch

This is not the Duster from a parallel universe but a real pickup truck. And it has been sold for 5 years in South America.

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In Brazil, the pickup truck based on it is positioned as a youth car, in which you can throw a couple of surfboards, gather four friends and go to storm the beaches. This is not the first pickup of the French brand —an infernal truck based on the first Logan was sold in a number of countries. The Oroch, unlike the Baja or the Avalanche XUT, does not look like a manticore from Greek myths. It is only not clear where its name came from: the only Orochi that Wikipedia knows are the almost disappeared people who were the indigenous population of the Amur River.

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As for power, there were no revelations: two petrol engines with an output of 110 hp and 143 hp, and front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The poorer version with unpainted bumpers and stamped wheels went to South America. In Brazil, the Oroch even won several awards as the «best pickup truck of 2016».

Chevrolet SSR

Pickup. Roadster. V8. When two of these three concepts meet together, you get an interesting car. And if you combine all three, it will be a financial disaster.

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During the years that he was the chief designer of General Motors, Wayne K. Cherry managed to work on a whole range of the company’s bestsellers (the Chevrolet Tahoe, the Chevrolet Silverado, the Cadillac Escalade, the Hummer H2) and a handful of cars much more unusual, not even mentioning the Pontiac Solstice that turned out to be unexpectedly successful by the standards of roadsters. But Wayne once miscalculated when he became interested in cars with retro design.

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When the Chevrolet SSR first appeared, it was positioned as a sports car with the pick-up genes of the ‘50s. Ideologically, the closest thing to it was the El Camino. But what kind of sport specifications can we talk about when the base is a platform from the heavyweight Trailblazer? Add to this a rigid folding roof, and the scale needle stops at monstrous 2,137 kg.

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Its 300-hp V8, which was later joined by a 6-liter 400-hp LS2 from the Corvette, was supposed to move this carcass from the place. And gearjammers could take the version with a manual gearbox by Tremec. Maybe Australians would like such a car, but in the US, only 24,000 people agreed to pay at least $42,000 for a SSR. Perhaps, it really didn't belong in the States.

BMW M3 E93 Pickup

This is another pickup truck with a sunshine roof but with German roots. And it made a splash in 2011… When the camouflaged prototype was first seen at the Nurburgring, car publications immediately spent all the ink, and BMW fans — dirty curses.

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But the calculating Bavarians knew that releasing such a miracle on the market is akin to suicide, so they hastened to reassure the public: this is only an April Fools' joke and a tribute to a similar pickup truck based on the E30 (3-Series).

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Although the E93 was created for fun, the engineers still did their best. Unlike the Chevrolet SSR, this is a targa in front of us: a chrome crossbar behind the passengers' heads helps to maintain the rigidity of the body.

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When the roof was removed, the M3 was 50 kg lighter than the coupe with the same name, and the load capacity of the body was 450 kg: we are used to judging BMW M cars not by this criterion. Inside, everything was almost unchanged: a 420-hp V8 accelerates the pickup to 300 km/h.

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So, this is not only the roomiest two-door M3 in history but also the fastest among the series. There was a carbon-fiber sign on the dashboard that said this pickup was the only one of its kind. What is not quite true: in 2016, South African tuners built another M3 E93 with such a body, retrofitting it with a mechanical supercharger.

Ford SkyRanger Convertible

This is a roadster pickup again, which is not as distinctive as the SSR and not as rare as the M3 but still worth mentioning.

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In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Dodge had a small Dakota pickup in its line-up. Strange things happened to it: in 1989, it received a special version with a V8 engine from Shelby (which in itself is nonsense), and two years earlier, it even got a convertible body. To be fair, this is not the first crazy experiments with the pickup truck: back in 1966, such a body was used for the Ford Bronco. But the Ranger, a rival to the Dakota in the segment, did not accept the call then.

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Professional Autocrafters Group from Michigan wanted to fix the situation, offering Ford its version of the roadster based on the Ranger. The carmaker refused, but the Michiganders liked the idea so much that they still assembled thirteen of these cars. We probably wouldn't have known about them if one of the Skyrangers hadn't been put up for sale via Craiglist a month ago.

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It was confirmed that the unusual car was equipped with a V6 and a manual transmission. The figure on the odometer does not exceed 7,500 miles. Admittedly, the SkyRanger looks much more organic than the Dakota Convertible. And the condition of the car is commendable: the owner did not allow a single spot of rust on the body for 12 years of ownership. And taking care of a rarity is expensive: almost $25,000 in this case.

International МXT

When a company that has been producing tractors for 100 years takes on a military pickup truck, the result must be grand. And if the same pickup is modified for public roads, the owners of the Hummer H2 and the Cadillac Escalade will have a powerful attack of megalophobia.

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Unlike more successful rivals from Jeep and Ford, International’s pickup did not differ in popularity and kept afloat thanks to government orders. Attempts to design a successful truck continued until 1979, when International Harvester declared bankruptcy. And in 1986, it was revived under the Navistar International banner and focused on the production of trucks. In 2005, the company made a second attempt and introduced the monstrous MXT-MV for military needs. It was unlucky again: the US defense Department did not need to replace the good old Humvee.

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But its civilian version turned out to be so gigantic that the Ford F-150 looked like a bug against its background, and the interior area was comparable to a small one-room apartment. Only the wheelbase is more than 5 meters! The 300-hp V8 was designed to move the 4.5-ton MXT from its place. The price of such a car could easily exceed $100,000: instead of borrowing the platform from the Ford F-350, International spent money on its own. This is too much even for the US. Therefore, the MXT settled in the «Fast and Furious» series instead of the garages of Americans who prefer smaller cars.

Mazda REPU

Externally, this compact pickup truck does not stand out among the others. Its roof is in place, it has four wheels, and it cannot compete with anyone in terms of engine power… And only the inscription «ROTARY POWER» on the body door suggests: this is the first and last rotary pickup in history.

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Mazda has a long and difficult relationship with rotary engines. Basically, engines of this type were installed on sports cars of the RX series, but the desire to win foreign markets forced the Japanese to compromise. In the '60s, Datsun’s models began to appear on the roads of the United States. In 1964, Nissan, the parent company, entered the top 10 largest auto importers in the United States. Mazda wanted to repeat the success of its neighbors. In 1974, remembering how Americans love pickups, it brought the REPU with a 1302-CC 13B rotary engine to the US.

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The dynamics were good: the 130-hp pickup accelerated from 0-100 km/h in 11 seconds, on par with the standard muscle cars of those times. The truck even participated in a rally, taking bronze in the 1976 race across the Mojave Desert. But the voracity of the rotary engine (another of its drawbacks) was a decisive factor in the midst of the fuel crisis, so that only 15,000 of these vehicles were sold for 4 years of production. But now, the REPU is experiencing a real Renaissance: there are new tuning projects based on it every year.

Rinspeed

The most unusual pickup was left for the sweet. Everything is strange here: the country of manufacture, the name, the concept… these are not the cars you expect to see from conservative Switzerland.

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But it is difficult to surprise those who know Rinspeed. This car design studio came up with the VW Golf, its gull wings and six headlights, and an SUV-transformer based on the Porsche 911 (996). You will have to go to a fortune teller in order to identify the car that became a new victim of the Swiss and turned into a terrible pickup truck or to overcome the pain in your eyes and open the bright red door, which hides a thoroughly redesigned interior of the Chevrolet S-10.

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And it is not a pickup truck but an MUV, which means a multi-utility vehicle. However, Rinspeed’s utility concept is strange. Here, it is embodied in the interior trimmed with snakeskin and diving equipment, consisting of a lift that occupies the entire area of the body, an underwater scooter and a huge diving dome.

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According to the idea of the designer, the owner must drive up to the reservoir, get under the dome and go down under the water, where they can move with the help of an electric motor scooter. This is a strange combination of technology from the 16th century and an archaic American pickup truck.

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