Words and photos by Niky Tamayo
Australia has always been a motoring anachronism, the last haven of the great, American full-frame V8 sedan. Aside from the Commodores and Falcons, though, Australia is also home to the deliciously ironic “ute” (short for utility). It’s as informally laid-back as its name suggests. It’s simply a two-door car (often with a snarling V8) with a pick-up bed out back. Note: Car. While two-door pick-up trucks are available elsewhere, none quite capture the sporty, red-neck flavor of the “ute”.
Enter the L200. Though based on the Mitsubishi Strada, it’s bereft of rear seats, body-cladding, and even power windows and mirrors. As such, it weighs in at a mere 1,525 kilograms - over 400 kilograms lighter than the top-dog 4x4 and 200 kilograms lighter than the base-model 4x2. Even better, it’s lowered to within scraping distance of the ground, giving it a sporty stance despite the tallish tires.
But is it really a “ute”? Sadly, no. But rear wheel drive and a turbocharger spell fun any which way you spin it, even if it’s attached to a pick-up. Just look at the GMC Syclone. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, just yet...