South African super-model and photographer Josie Borain starred in an iconic Toyota TV advert many years back, in which she took on a rugged guy in a Hilux-bakkie duel. In the ad, neither driver wanted to give way when coming nose-to-nose on a narrow bridge, and the two proceeded to drive under the bridge and manhandle their 4x4 Hiluxes through the river in a scene of wheel-spinning, water-splashing action.
The ad challenged the stereotype that the Hilux was just for square-jawed, tobacco-chewing okes who’d just stepped out of a Wilbur Smith novel; women could like Toyota’s bakkie too.
In today’s ever-more-woke society, veering into narratives that refer to cars as being for women or men is tricky territory. Assigning masculine or feminine genders to vehicles isn’t easily done without treading on sensitive toes — and where do we even begin with identifying a transgender car?
But in the interests of light relief and since this issue of Wanted is guy-themed, we take a tongue-in-cheek look at the most masculine vehicles you can buy (with apologies to womenfolk who, like Borain’s character, may also find them very much to their liking).
TOYOTA LAND CRUISER 70 SERIES
Since we started on a Toyota note, let’s get straight to the brand’s most cherished tough-guy vehicle. Where the modern Land Cruiser 200 SUV has gone its own, luxurious way, the Land Cruiser 79 bakkie — and its SUV counterpart, the 76 — is a throwback to simpler times when blokes shaved with cutthroat razors and smoked Texan Plain.
Eschewing modern trends like aerodynamic body curves, the rugged 70 Series has a boxy body on a ladder-frame chassis and old-school tech, and selecting 4WD is done in the original manly way: by yanking a lever instead of pushing a button. No namby-pamby, downsized, fuel-sipping engines here. It’s all grumpy big V6 and V8s all round, with the smallest one being a 4.0-litre.
Modern-shmodern. It’s tough as nails, which is why farmers dig it.
FORD RANGER RAPTOR
With a towering ground clearance, monster-sized tyres, and rally-bred Fox suspension, this is the bakkie for Sarel van der Merwe wannabes. Its blacked-out grille and all-round mean look further ensure a position on our masculine-vehicle list.
Having said that, it was a woman who taught me how to drive it properly. She was a driving instructor at the Raptor’s media launch held in the Kalahari Desert, and before I got my turn at the wheel I was strapped into the passenger seat as she jumped and power-slid the big Ford around a rally course like Van der Merwe himself.
PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS
Sports cars nowadays tend to be more user-friendly and easy to drive, able to switch from fire-breathing performance to meek and comfy commute-mode at the press of a button.
Not the GT3 RS, which is an unashamedly focused track-taming sports car with rock-hard suspension, an engine wail that will strip the spikes off a Rottweiler’s collar, and (optionally) a roll cage that clunks against the body when you drive over small bumps. Loud, lewd, and virile.
This boxy, ballistic SUV is quite possibly the most senseless vehicle around. Who would really want a high-riding Land Rover Defender lookalike with super low-profile tyres and a turbocharged V8 engine that is powerful enough to affect the Earth’s spin?
Manly men who don’t know any better, that’s who. And if they have to explain it, you won’t understand. So it guzzles fuel like a cruise ship, but it makes a Jurassic yell from its side-exiting exhausts. Utter senselessness is part of this galloping Geländewagen’s appeal.
“Godzilla” to its adherents, this angry Nissan is probably the epitome of the boys’ car. Oozing raw masculinity, this brash Japanese sports car is a steel fist in a reptilian-skinned glove.
As subtle as a sledgehammer, the GT-R is a favourite among modders who soup it up to beastly levels of performance and use it to win hillclimbs (the black one you see here won last year’s Knysna Hillclimb with Franco Scribante in the driving seat).
• From the August edition of Wanted, 2020.