By Aaron Bragman
Truck aficionados can be a fanatical bunch, but I don't have to tell you that — chances are the fact that you're reading this makes you one too. That fanaticism isn't limited to the typical Ford versus Chevy debate — ask early generation Nissan Hardbody fans about their old trucks, and you might get the same kind of glowing trip down memory lane. But did you know that some of your favorite classic trucks are still being made and sold in far-off corners of the world? It's true: Those trucks still in production might surprise you, but don't think you can import these models into the U.S. Getting "gray-market" vehicles registered in the U.S. is a daunting task, as some Nissan Skyline owners found out recently when the government seized and crushed their cars. Still, it's fun to imagine what could be, so have a peek at what we've uncovered around the world:
Nissan NP300 — South America
Until just a year or two ago, you could buy a brand-new Nissan D21 Hardbody pickup from your local Venezuelan Nissan dealer. It's still listed on Nissan's website despite the fact that PUTC has confirmed that they're no longer being sold. You can, however, buy the next generation — the D22 — in a number of markets in South America, including Argentina and Bolivia. We know it as the first-generation Nissan Frontier. The rest of the world called it the Nissan Navara, and now it's known as the NP300. U.S. production of this version stopped in 2004, but it is still being built in Japan for export and in Brazil for local consumption. Available only as a crew cab with six-passenger seating, the NP300 is powered by a 2.5-liter common-rail turbodiesel making a hefty 304 pounds-feet of torque. That power goes only to the rear wheels and only through a five-speed manual transmission. Have a look at Nissan's brand-new 12-year-old pickup at the Nissan Argentina website. No prices are listed, sadly.
Toyota LandCruiser LC70 — Australia and Middle East
The iconic Toyota LandCruiser (Aussies make it one word) is still considered to be one of the most bulletproof rigs ever built, but newer versions have gotten ridiculously expensive and cushy, serving more as competitors to Land Rover Range Rovers than as true workhorses. But if you live in the Persian Gulf Coast countries or in Australia, you can march down to your Toyota dealer and order a brand-new LandCruiser LC70 pickup. Based on designs that stretch back to the 1980s, the Japan-built truck is available in a host of body styles, including a two-door chassis cab, a double cab pickup, a wagon and even a "troop carrier" with longitudinal bench seating for eight in the covered bed. Engines range from an old 4.2-liter diesel inline six-cylinder and 4.0-liter gasoline V-6 for the Middle East market to a 4.5-liter turbodiesel V-8 for Australia, which churns out 430 pounds-feet of torque; all engines in Australia are fitted with snorkels to get you across anything that the Outback might throw at you. Like the latest and greatest Land Cruiser, however, these older designs do not come cheap: a loaded Troop Carrier GXL will set you back nearly $77,000 Australian ($80,000 U.S.). Want to save a little coin? Head to Saudi Arabia, where you can pick up a single-cab pickup version for the equivalent of just more than $32,000 U.S. Check out the Australian Toyota LandCruiser LC70 site here.
Lincoln Mark LT — Mexico
Remember Lincoln's second attempt at a luxury pickup? The first one was the failed Lincoln Blackwood, introduced before the Cadillac Escalade EXT, and it featured a unique bed and rear-wheel-drive-only trim combination that few people found appealing (especially for the price). Lincoln's second attempt was the 2005 Lincoln Mark LT: Sold through 2008 in the U.S. and discontinued for lack of interest, it got a 2010 refresh with the latest updates that the Ford F-150 received and continues to be built and sold solely for the Mexican market. The latest version is powered by the 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 only, making 360 horsepower and 380 pounds-feet of torque and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a choice of rear-wheel drive or 4x4 drive. Outwardly, the only real change from the high-spec levels of the F-150 seems to be the winged Lincoln grille, featuring a massive Lincoln star logo. The interior looks like the 2012 F-150, with some Lincoln badges, piano black trim and embroidered leather seats. If you live south of the border, the new '13 Mark LT can be yours for 678,700 pesos — the equivalent of about $55,000 U.S. Check it out here.
Volkswagen Microbus — Brazil
Finally, while it may not be a pickup, there's one more classic truck that commands a dedicated following and is considered a cultural icon all over the world — they're still being sold in Brazil, but production will cease on Dec. 31. The Volkswagen Microbus, the epitome of hippie transportation, is still sold as a commercial van called the Kombi. This is the version that the rest of the world saw around 1968. Now it's equipped with a more modern motor — a rear-mounted 1.4-liter flex-fuel four-cylinder able to run on any combination of gasoline and ethanol; it makes a paltry 78 hp and 110 pounds-feet of torque. It's liquid-cooled as well, featuring an awkward-looking external front-mounted radiator. Two versions are available — a passenger van with windows or a panel van — both are offered in any color you want, as long as you want white. For this piece of history, Volkswagen charges 44,990 Brazilian reals, or about $23,000 U.S. for the panel van, stepping up to about $24,250 for the passenger van. Check it out at Volkswagen do Brasil's Kombi site here.