Almost every light commercial manufacturer is eagerly piling into the purpose-built 4×4 pick-up market. Newcomers such as Mercedes-Benz want their piece of the pie while established players such as Ford and Nissan are determined to defend their turf.
It’s all good news for customers, and for the manufacturers who supply all the pick-up extras they crave. The line-up includes load area hardtops and retractable covers, ancillary lighting and light bars, fancy alloy wheels with low-profile tyres, side steps, styling bars and load bed linings.
Cosmetic But Practical
Some of these items are cosmetic, but many of them are practical.
Linings protect the cargo bed – spray-on linings are available as an alternative to plastic ones – while hardtops and covers protect whatever is being carried from the elements. They also provide some defence against theft.
Many of the aforementioned items figure on manufacturers accessory lists and are included in the specification of top-of-the-range or limited-edition models. Mitsubishi is especially well-known for promoting well-equipped versions of its L200 groaning with extras and plastered with decals.
The current Mitsubishi line-up includes the limited-edition L200 Barbarian SVP II complete with 17ins black and orange alloy wheels and orange roof rails and front and rear light bezels among other features.
Nor is it unknown for people who opt for second-hand pick-ups to splash out on all sorts of embellishments to enhance them; or for dealers to add a few cosmetic features to make them easier to sell.
Fitting an attractive set of alloy wheels immediately alters a pick-up’s appearance. It is a point not lost on Autostyling Truckman, which has recently launched a new range in conjunction with long-established alloy wheel manufacturer Wolfrace.
It is the first time the Dudley, West Midlands-based 4×4 accessories specialist – best-known for the Truckman top – has supplied wheel sets to its customers.
The line-up consists of the polished Vermont, which has a dished design, ten split spokes and simulated rivet detail, the six-spoke LH1 and the eight-spoke LH3, both of which are finished in satin black. All the wheels can be supplied with either road-going or all-terrain tyres, with a tyre pressure monitoring system and with optional wide wheel-arches to boost the pick-up’s looks.
Covered by a 12-month warranty, the wheels are available mounted and balanced; Autostyling Truckman offers a fitting service from its headquarters. Retail prices range from just over £2,100 to just over £2,500 including VAT depending on the package selected.
Autostyling Truckman is by no means the only supplier of pick-up accessories in the UK, with rivals such as Swindon’s Hardtops UK and Bristol’s Pegasus 4×4 well to the fore. The formers offer a wide range of glazed and unglazed hardtops, not to mention load bed covers, dog cages and shelving while the latter’s line-up embraces everything from hardtops to electric sidesteps which deploy and retract automatically.
“We’re 10 per cent up year-on-year,” reports Pegasus product line-up manager, Colin Moore.
Nor are customers skimping on what they spend. “Our top-of-the-range Avantgarde model at present accounts for 95 per cent of the hardtops we sell,” he adds.
Pegasus now makes its hardtops available with alarms says Moore. As it happens the tops are particularly difficult to break into he contends because the door handles are built into the solid door frame rather than mounted on glass.
Aluminium mesh reinforcement is available for glazing as an optional extra security measure.
Much of the demand for Pegasus products is being driven by owners and senior managers of small to medium-size building companies who use double-cab pick-ups to travel from site to site, says Moore. “They’re really busy and if you talk to any of them they’ll tell you that their order book is full for the next 12 to 18 months,” he observes.
Pick-ups As Working Tools
While pick-ups have become popular as leisure vehicles in recent years, they are still used by plenty of small businesses and fleets as working tools.
With this in mind, Autostyling Truckman has come up with a load bed storage pack for the Navara pick-up which combines a Truckman Grand hardtop with DECKED.
Employing a galvanised steel sub-frame, and originally designed for the US market, DECKED includes two bed-length roll-out drawers which allow tools to be transported securely. It results in a raised deck which can support up to 1,000kg.
The drawers solve a perennial problem with pick-ups – the way in which items slide up to the bulkhead. Unless the pick-up canopy is fitted with side hatch-type doors, the driver is obliged to clamber up into the load area from the back and scrabble about on all fours in order to retrieve them.
Truckman Grand features tinted pop-out side windows and an LED interior light plus a spoiler with an integrated third brake light. The entire pack costs a smidgeon under £3,000 excluding VAT and fitting says Autostyling Truckman.
DECKED and the Grand hardtop are not just available for Navara. Sheerwater Glass of Woking, Surrey has had both fitted to its Ford Ranger Wildtrak pick-up along with Tailgate Pro-Lift, which uses gas-filled struts to make it easier to open and close the tailgate.
The Wildtrak is used to transport staff, tools and equipment between different sites. Family-run Sheerwater supplies double-glazed windows plus doors and conservatories.
Continuing with the role that pick-ups can still play as workhorses, the Commercial Vehicle Show earlier this year saw Isuzu’s D-Max pop up on a number of different stands fitted with bodywork clearly not designed for leisure use.
Converters using D-Max as a basis for their products include Cumberland Platforms. “The light but durable chassis and the absence of AdBlue (D-Max can achieve Euro 6 without it) makes it perfect for the development of a variety of conversions,” says Paul Murphy, managing director of the Kettering, Northamptonshire firm.
Best-known for its cherry-pickers, Cumberland has also come up with the D-Max Chipper Tipper.
Designed to meet the needs of tree surgeons, and also available on a Toyota Hilux chassis, it features a high-sided 3cu m tipper body plus a tool box and an offside locker mounted behind the cab. Maximum payload capacity is 1.3 tonnes.
Sticking with Hilux, Toyota’s Authorised Converter programme features a Hilux Extra Cab equipped with a tipper body constructed by Bristol’s TGS Group. With alloy sides and an alloy floor, it can handle a payload of around a tonne.
Camper Van Concepts
Returning to the leisure and pleasure arena, Mercedes has been exhibiting some camper van concepts based on its new X-Class pick-up.
Among them is a demountable cabin from body builder Tischer which offers sleeping accommodation, a kitchen with a three-burner gas stove and an integrated bathroom which apparently provides enough space to take a shower.
VanEssa mobilcamping adopts a somewhat different approach, with a 250kg module which can be pulled out from the back of X-Class to create a fully-equipped kitchen with cooking and washing-up facilities plus a cool box. Not a bad package to have if you have decided to get away from it all by spending a few days under canvas somewhere remote; but still want a few creature comforts.
VanEssa protects the module and the entirety of the pick-up’s load area with a cover that looks rather like the deck of a yacht; a world away from the sort of cover you might see on a mud-spattered pick-up on a construction site.