The last time Ford imported Brazilian-made models to New Zealand was in 2002, in the form of the F250 and F350 pick-up trucks from the company’s South American right-hand drive assembly line.
Ford’s marketing people reckoned they’d be the bee’s knees for New Zealand’s ‘Southern man’, the mythical tough guy around which advertising agencies at the time built campaigns.
The first shipment of 4×2 and 4×4 models did indeed go to buyers in the South Island. Ford said the trucks “provide us with an opportunity to meet the needs of customers looking for a vehicle somewhere between the smaller Japanese one-tonners and larger, full-scale trucks.”
There were two engine choices: a 5.4-litre petrol V8 delivering 194kW/475Nm and a 7.3-litre turbo-diesel V8 putting out 175kW/684Nm. Prices ranged from $80,100 to $102,500.
The big diesel – the biggest capacity engine in the Ford line-up – had been a reliable performer for many years, but it was dropped from the US market soon after the F250 and F350 landed in NZ because it couldn’t meet new emissions rules.
It was replaced by a 6.0-litre unit for North America but continued to be built for South America, Australia and NZ, where emissions requirements were not as strict.
There were rumblings from an affronted green lobby at the time about NZ being a dumping ground for old US technology.
But the country had for many years been a dumping ground for used diesel imports from Japan and elsewhere. They’re still coming in, puffing along inside a cloud bank of evil-smelling diesel fumes.
The F250 and F350 came and went and one-tonne utes stayed put. Now another Ford of Brazil model is attracting interest, from off-road enthusiasts in Britain and the US.
It’s the go-anywhere Troller TX4, from Ford-owned Troller Veiculos Especials. Its predecessor, the T4 series has been around in different forms for more than 20 years and has competed with some success in the gruelling Dakar Rally.
Ford has owned Troller since 2007. The TX4 is a brawnier 2020 version of the two-door T4 launched in 2018. It has a fibreglass body and is based on a shortened version of the Ranger ute’s platform. Price in Brazil is roughly equivalent to upwards of NZ$55,000.
Under the bonnet is the familiar five-cylinder147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre diesel mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. There’s a switchable four-wheel-drive system with both high- and low-range modes, live Dana axles, and a locking rear differential.
Other off-road upgrades include a snorkel, auxiliary Hella LED lighting, Pirelli Scorpion all-terrain tyres, steel bumpers, rock sliders, and dedicated two-tone liveries with orange interior accents pieces, stitching, and TX4 embroidered backrests.
The TX4 comes standard with a front air snorkel intake for wading, rocker panels, a Naval Blue front grille and either a Trancoso Brown, Maragogi Green or Frosted Silver paint coat.
A 6.75-inch touchscreen can be used to operate a JBL sound system that’s compatible with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth. Other standard creature comforts include dual-zone digital air conditioning, electric windows and mirrors and a 12-volt outlet.