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LHD UTE CONVERSIONS
North American utes are desirable, but expensive.
Converting a left hand drive North American pick up to RHD and ADR compliance isn't a cheap operation and some companies do a better job than others. One of the best is Sailstrip Ultimate Vehicles (SUV) so we checked out this company's converted Ford 150 Raptor and Dodge Ram utes.
Professionally converted US utes are expensive in Australia: typically around $130,000+, depending in specification. That's a lot of money for a vehicle that has a list price in the USA in the 40-50 grand bracket. The cost hikes come in easily explained increments that start with transport Down Under, climb through the need to redesign and make many components, including the dashboard and finish with the need to prove compliance and carry warranty.
In the case of the Ford F150 Raptor we inspected the steering housing for the rack and pinion steering had to be redesigned for RHD and then machined out of a solid billet. Precision was vital in this task, because the vehicle's dynamic stability control is linked to the steering geometry, necessitating use of the original LHD steering rack, because any variance in steering ratio would adversely affect the ESC response.
The dashboard rework was done so well it was impossible to tell that it wasn't a factory original.
Normally, RHD-oriented headlights are also necessary, but the F 150 now has flat-top dipped beams, so the LHD lights comply with ADRs.
The F 150 Raptor is more of a show-pony ute than a load-carrier, with around a half-tonne payload rating for its voluminous ute tub, but other F150 models - Platinum, King Ranch and Harley Davidson - are available with ratings up to 1370kg. Towing capacities range from 3000kg to 3950kg. The Raptor's springing and suspension is sports-ute oriented, with remote-reservior, monotube Fox Racing Shocks all-round.
Performance isn't an issue - 411hp/433lb-ft 6.2-litre petrol-injected V8 and six-speed auto box - but fuel consumption might well be an issue.
The SUV Dodge Ram we evaluated was a heavy-tow specification with more than ample grunt available from a Cummins 6.7-litre diesel - 262kW and 1084Nm from 1500rpm - driving through a six-speed auto box. Towing ability was between 5700kg and 8860kg, depending on specification. This is serious kit.
Both SUV utes we inspected had all the expected fruit, including powered, leather seats; rear-view cameras; high-level sound systems; nav systems and much more.
Most SUV customers are well-heeled or are buyers looking for promotional vehicles to enhance their businesses. They could do a lot worse, we reckon.
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