By Tony Barthel
Let’s say you’re wanting a bigger vehicle to tow more trailer but your spouse wants a small sedan instead of a big truck. In the U.S., you’d have few options, but if you were in Brazil you might be able to find yourself a Tropiclassic conversion.
For some reason, Tropiclassic saw a need to take the Ford Super Duty and convert them to vehicles that looked like passenger cars complete with a trunk. Forget that useful pickup box – these have a trunk instead. The best part is that some of the trunk parts came directly from the tiny Ford Focus. So that big, brawny Super Duty now looks like a Focus. Neat.
Essentially, here’s what happened: A company called Tropical took the Super Duty platform, cut them down to cab and chassis models, and then performed their magic to create the Tropiclassic. You could also have a Tropicampo, which was an extended cab model or Tropivan which was like an SUV. You know, an Excursion.
In Brazil, Ford sold this generation of Super Duty with one of two turbodiesel engines, neither of which were offered in the United States. You could get a 3.9-liter Cummins B-series paired with four-speed automatics or a Brazilian-produced 4.2-liter inline-six from MWM, a Brazilian division of Navistar.
It seems that Tropical started all these shenanigans in 2001. If you look around you can find a few still for sale. (Bonus points if you understand Portuguese since that’s what they speak in Brazil.)
In some ways, it’s a neat idea. Plus, having a trunk that can close in Brazil is a good thing. While we might be able to leave things in an open pickup box, you’re not as likely to do so there. Let’s just say crime rates can be pretty high.
Tropiclassics not only did the surgery to make the exteriors unique, but the interiors were not above their field of influence either with huge consoles and other “upgrades.” You could get custom grilles and other exterior touches to individualize your Tropiclassic.
If you’re not a Ford person, no worries. You could get specifically customized versions of the Chevrolet D-20, the Silverado and even the S-10. In fact we got our own version of the S-10 based on a Brazilian prototype here when GM started building the four-door S-10.
Apparently this went on through 2015 at which point Tropical changed focus to a single model.
Today the company still exists but builds lengthened medium-duty trucks to make them appear to be really, really big pickup trucks.