Mercedes-Benz always depended on exports to generate bigger revenues.
South Africa in the 50’s made it difficult for importers to import more vehicles by implementing higher taxes so that foreign companies would rush to set-up local factories. Meanwhile the sales dipped to just 100 units of various Mercedes models being imported.
So, in order to reduce costing and encourage more sales, Mercedes-Benz first started to ship out CKD (completely knocked-down) kits that were assembled locally. And yet volumes remained low. As the white South Africans owned large farms in the hinterland, it was a common practice to see farm owners chopping the rear and converting them in to vehicles for carrying agricultural implements.
Mercedes-Benz saw this as an opportunity and decided that the use of the 180D (W120) model with a 1.7 litre OM636 VII engine for modification in to a pick-up would be the ideal model as it was quite frugal a machine and at the same time rough. And since pick-ups were considered as commercial vehicles, they did not fall in to import restrictions. This gave rise to the influx of the first “Bakkie” in to the country.
The word Bakkie has been borrowed from the word ‘bak’ which means ‘a covered bowl’ (in Zulu language). The word Bakkie is a reference for any pick-ups in South Africa be it a Toyota, Datsun or a Chevy.
|Model Origin||South Africa|