This Bizarre Ford Super Duty-Based Sedan Is Just the Start of Brazil’s Odd Truck-Car Mashups
It’s got a diesel engine, a manual transmission, and a trunk where the bed used to be.
Possibly the greatest automotive design mistake is trying to blend a sedan with a utility vehicle. Cars that try to be both, like the Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe, almost invariably wind up with compromised functionality, not to mention wonky proportions, making them a sort of worst-of-both-worlds experience. Yet as the existence of vehicles like this attest, there's always some demand for them, and when carmakers themselves don't build them, the aftermarket will step in. Such was the case in Brazil, where truck upfitter Tropical Cabines sold extremely odd sedans based on the Ford F-250 Super Duty.
Launched in 2001 according to Lexicar Brasil, these Super Duty sedans were called Tropiclassics, in keeping with its manufacturer's line of three-row Tropivan SUV conversions and Tropicampo cab extensions. To build them, Tropical reportedly hacked trucks down to chassis cabs, then refitted them with prefab body conversions produced in-house. These enclosed up-class but largely stock-looking interiors in a metal frame and fiberglass bodywork, often including custom front ends, but always with rear ends borrowed from sedans of the same make as the donor truck. In the case of these F-250s, that meant the Focus.
Component carryover seems to be limited to the taillights and possibly trunk hinges, though the resemblance between this Tropiclassic and a base Focus is still strong enough to make many F-250 drivers feel emasculated. Worse still, it was enough to send our resident industrial design major Peter Holderith off the deep end, eliciting unpublishable scorn from the tracker of lost turbine trucks.
These trucks' bizarre traits weren't limited to their bodywork, either. In Brazil, Ford sold the first-generation Super Duty with two choices of turbodiesel engines never offered in the United States. Some had 3.9-liter Cummins B-series paired with four-speed automatics, while others came with a domestically produced 4.2-liter inline-six from MWM, a Brazilian division of Navistar.
Tropiclassic treatment, however, was not a Ford F-Series exclusive. Archived brochure photos and ad reels show Tropical also built these oddities from Chevrolets, including the S-10, Silverado, and Latin America-only D-20. But even building these vehicles to order wasn't enough for Tropical to continue them, and by 2015, it had reportedly scaled Tropiclassic options back to a single model, despite expanding into Dodge Ram conversions years prior.
Tropical's website is down for maintenance, so we can't check its current offerings, but its social media suggests its bread and butter today is lengthened medium-duty Ford trucks, presumably for a mainly Middle Eastern clientele. Taking oil princes' deep pockets into consideration, it's hard to blame Tropical for backing out of the sedan-truck market, instead leaving it to those mad Italians of Aznom.
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