Wacky vehicular mashups tend to be the work of ambitious home builders with a reciprocating saw and a welder or shops with way too much time on their hands. At first glance, this 2007 Tropical Cabines Tropiclassic appears to be just that. It’s a Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup morphed into a sedan. But there’s more to this weird chimera’s story than that. This truck is one of the few ways Brazilians can own a diesel-powered vehicle.
This eye-catching truck is making the rounds lately after a few were found for sale in Brazil. It’s the work of Tropical Cabines, a company that, according to Lexicar Brasil, was founded in 1985 and immediately got to work turning existing trucks into something more.
The Tropical Cabines Tropiclassic takes a Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup, shaves off everything aft of the front doors, and fills in the space with a goofy rear end. I haven’t exactly pinpointed what those rear doors are from. Perhaps they’re shortened doors from a Ranger or F-150? I like how the truck stays in the Ford family with its Focus taillights.
The interior gets some nicer seat materials but remains largely untouched from its donor vehicle. Even the door panels carry over. I do like how spacious that interior is. Few actual sedans have this much room to stretch out.
Under the hood, this Tropiclassic has a 3.9-liter inline four-cylinder Cummins diesel paired with a five-speed manual transmission. A 4.2-liter straight six diesel from MWM, a Brazilian division of Navistar, was available as an option.
These are a bit smaller than the 7.3-liter or 6.0-liter Power Stroke engines these trucks would have been equipped with in the United States.
The whole truck is preposterous. Why would anyone want this? It’s a vehicle of compromises. It’s a truck with reduced practicality and a sedan that handles like a truck, gets the poorer fuel economy of a truck and looks like this from the rear:
Well, it’s one of the few ways to get a diesel sedan in the country.
Diesel regulations are quite harsh in Brazil. As the International Council on Clean Transportation reports, the country banned diesel vehicles with carrying capacities under 2,200 pounds back in the 1970s. The idea is to make diesel vehicles only available for commercial use. That means if you want a diesel vehicle in Brazil even today, it’ll have to be pretty heavy duty. No Volkswagen Jetta TDI for you!
The Brazilian government also lowered taxes on diesel fuel, reports WardsAuto, making it cheaper than gasoline and making a truck-sedan even more attractive for some people. Further limiting choice was an aggressive import ban from 1976 to 1990 that kept a variety of vehicles out of the country.
As Tire Meets Road noted, with a unique hole in the market to fill, many coachbuilders decided to do the best they could by turning diesel trucks into sedans, vans, ambulances and more.
So Brazil is a bit of a bastion of all sorts of trucks turned into family haulers like the Tropiclassic. And if this chunky truck was too expensive, Tropical Cabines produced sedans out of smaller trucks too, including the Chevy Silverado and S-10.
I love these trucks. They’re a perfect example of how people find a way no matter the barriers in their way.
Correction: Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 7:10 p.m. CST: The transmission in this vehicle is actually a five-speed manual. I regret the error.