By on June 3, 2014

ford-troller-t4-1

The accepted hagiography of the Ford empire involves the firesale of all of Ford’s various brands in the aftermath of the financial crisis, with only the Blue Oval and the Lincoln Motor Company sticking around for the ride. But that’s not quite accurate.

Ford actually has another brand that it’s not-quite-affiliated with, called Troller. To understand the connection, we need a little context. Brazil has a long tradition of small independent car makers. Some have made sport cars (Puma, Dardo, Santa Matilde, Lobini), other have made regular cars and SUVs (Gurgel being the longest lived and most successful, though there are countless others). In 1995, a small company called Troller started producing jipes in the northeastern state of Ceará and many imagined it would be another short-lived effort. But Troller has survived long enough to launch an all-new jipe (as Brazilians call this type of car, in honor of Jeep), which will use some of the global Ranger’s hardware while maintaining the robustness that make it in Brazil’s off-road circles.

Started by Rogério Farias on a ham-string budget, the small factory nonetheless made a name for itself in off road circles that enabled its growth. It gained attention to itself by participating in the Paris-Dakar Rally and even winning some phases of Brazil’s most famed off road competition, the Rali dos Sertões. In 1997, it was bought by Mário Araripe, a well heeled entrepreneur who subsequently increased production and hired more employees, eventually building a military jeep, special vehicles for use in underground mines and even a pickup that badly flopped. The T4, “loosely” inspired by the Jeep Wrangler was a success. Never cheap, it was the cheapest alternative in Brazil for real off-roading and with its combination of a diesel engine and a hearty 4×4 system, the company always turned a profit and continued growing.

In 2007, Ford bought out the company for an undisclosed sum. And now, 7 years later, the first real results of this deal appear. The new T4 will use the same 5 cylinder, 3.2 L, good for 163 horses (at least in the pickup). It will also be equipped with the Ranger’s 6-speed manual gearbox. According to Ford executives present at the launch, the new T4 will be more civilized without losing the characteristics that so endeared the model to hardcore off-roaders. A much improved interior is an example of this. Ford also said that they have improved manufacturing processes and that the special composite material of fiberglass and steel that makes the T4’s outer shell has been substantially strengthened.

Now, with a resurgent Ford, more confident and with more money in the bank, the possibility that Troller could gain overseas markets is once again ventilated. Some see it in the front of the vehicles new design. Could a Troller Bronco eventually ride the prairies again?

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60 Comments on “Dispatches do Brasil: Ford Trollers Bronco Fans With New BOF SUV...”


  • avatar
    Signal11

    How do you pronounce “Troller”?

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Looks like an unholy coupling of a Wrangler and FJ Cruiser with a little H3 thrown in. Yikes…fugly.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    So the 5 cyclinder is a diesel?
    Assuming 163 is an NA diesel that’s pretty cool.

    Edit: I have to change this, looked cool until I saw the side view, kinda ruined it for me, was actually excited for a minute though

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I really doubt this will come here – it won’t meet safety regs and there won’t be enough interest. It would compete nicely as a Wrangler alternative, if anybody who wanted a Wrangler was considering other models (they aren’t).

    I think we’ll have to stick to just Blue Oval and Lincoln Coachworks & Motorcar Enterprise Company.

    • 0 avatar

      I doubt it too. Safety regs can be met, but I think the market is not there for a “real” hard core off road vehicle. Ford promised not to soften it up too much, but the original T4 was the crudest thing on road.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      If the Wrangler goes fully-independent suspension, you can almost bet the Troller would be popular with the off-road crowd.

      • 0 avatar

        I used ham string in the sense that the company was crippled by the low budget. After 1997 when it was taken over, the company became much more viable and opened dealerships in lots of the main Brazilian cities and the car became almost fully serviceable. Now, i don’t hink customers have much trouble servicing this car.

  • avatar
    Victor

    It is onde ugly bastard. But this is the most capable offroader money can buy.

    Marcelo, Troller was FIA Cross Country champion a while back. Don’t remember when.

    • 0 avatar

      Victor, I agree! I didnt know about the FIA title. Another one under its belt then that adds to Troller’s cred.

      • 0 avatar
        challenger2012

        Is the World Cup going to go off on time? What are the delays, if any? What is your take on it for the country? Good for the masses?

        • 0 avatar

          Of course. Delays everywhere, but mainly outside the stadiums. Access routes to stadiums, airports. But it will start

          My take?
          Tough, lots of money spent, lots of money gone, but in the end there will be some improvements for the cities. Good? Yeah, money circulated, wealth was created. Best way to do it? Probably not, but if were not done, bet that money wouldnt have been spent.

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            Marcelo – I’m currently in Brazil doing some work (not World Cup related thankfully) and can’t get over the number of small FWD based “trucklets” you guys have in Sao Paulo. Along with crazy motorcycle guys zipping in between cars and buses. Everything else seems very European with small hatchbacks making up for the bulk of traffic.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey JMII, enjoy your stay! Yes these trucklets are everywhere
            A couple of months back the Strada was even number one in sales, the first time a truck did that in Brazil. Curious fact: if you add all other trucklets, pick-ups, commercial vans in the market, all of the others available in the market (including Fiat’s) the Strada outsells them all.

  • avatar
    racerxlilbro

    Ham-string? Or, “shoestring?”

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    It would be great if that was brought to the US as a Wrangler competitor. Then maybe Chrysler would be forced to increase quality and lower the price on the Wrangler.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      I suspect there would be a huge price advantage with bringing in a product from Brazil. I, too, like the looks. With Jeep, you get the conservative looks, this vehicle, is on the stylistic edge. If they could be sold for 20K, I imagine sales would be many.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Lower the price I might agree with. I think FCA has already managed to up the quality somewhat from its Daimler generation.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Marcelo, I’m glad to see you posting again. It has been almost a month since the last Dispatches do Brasil. This post was great, keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Marcelo, this is a very interesting piece.

    I do think a vehicle like this if it is priced correctly would have a market outside of Brasil.

    I like the idea of using an existing Ford drivetrain.

    As for the design, well it’s subjective. Overall it points in the right direction, but the front end could be a little better designed, but overall it’s attractive with a hint of ‘retro’.

    A long wheelbase wagon version would be nice.

    It wouldn’t be hard to design one as capable as a Jeep Wrangler, but with more refinement.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks Big Al! That’s the conundrum, isn’t it? Make it more soft and palatable to the average driver and lose the hardcore enthusiast base, or keep it like it is and the enthusiasts happy. As a small brand, even in Brazil, I think Troller and Ford are happy to keep it very hard.

      I mean there are hints of them seeking a larger market (better interior, usable trunk this time around), this is not ready for normal market use. If it is anything like pasts one, it makes the Wrangler seem like a normal car in comparison.

      I think this is a work in progress. Like stated in the article, Ford acquired Troller seven long years ago and during this time precious little had been done before (except jamming old Fiesta trim in the jipe). Now that Ford has some breathing room, we might start to see what Ford really intends for Troller. Though some may look at it and want one, I don’t really think Ford has plans for Troller out of Brazil in the short term.

      They would have to increase capacity for example. Get it to follow international safety regs. For now I see this as a Brazil only product, maybe stretching out into some of the neighbors. Troller has always been about pre-selling production. Any car built is pre sold.

      Funny the design. The new front is actually my favorite part. The separation between front fenders and bumpers look the business.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I have no need for this kind of car, and yet I want it…badly.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Big Al–I can hear the guys on PUTC extolling the virtues of the Power Wagon and Raptor while the Troller leaves them to eat its trail dust. This is a much more capable off roader than those.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I can attest to the fact that the newer Wrangler is a very capable machine–more capable than a *stock* TJ or earlier model. The JK did things off the showroom floor that lifted TJ owners insisted it couldn’t do without at least a 2″ lift.

      However, I cannot say whether it is less-, as- or more capable than the Troller as to be quite honest they look quite similar in overall shape and we don’t have an image of them side-by-side to get an impression of scale. I’d say the current JK could give the Troller a run for its money at the minimum. If I had the nerve of some Jeep drivers, I’d be willing to play a game of Follow-the-Leader to see which gives up first, if either.

      • 0 avatar

        couple of youtube links. One includes another Brazilian SUV the Spark TAC based on Fiat mechanicals.

        http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=troller+vs+jeep+willys&form=HDRSC3&first=1#view=detail&mid=D9D004AF4A9F5EBD6D86D9D004AF4A9F5EBD6D86

        http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=troller+vs+jeep+willys&form=HDRSC3&first=1#view=detail&mid=D397B232D2A02A3A89E9D397B232D2A02A3A89E9

        http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=troller+vs+jeep+willys&form=HDRSC3&first=1#view=detail&mid=C48A9B44AB2F008071EEC48A9B44AB2F008071EE

        http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=troller+vs+jeep+willys&form=HDRSC3&first=1#view=detail&mid=64DA161C9ECF3F496C4D64DA161C9ECF3F496C4D

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Hmmm… That puts the Troller in about the same size as the Willys or maybe the TJ. Not bad. Wonder how a JK with good mudders under it would handle most of those?

          • 0 avatar

            Yes, the original Troller was about that size, maybe a bit taller. The new T4 is a bit longer, wider etc. One good thing about the size it that it can pass in places the current Jeep can’t because of its girth

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            That may be true, the new JKs are wider than the TJs and earlier. But based on the videos you linked, I don’t think it would have much more trouble with those trails than any of the others there. Of course, you should see now nuts SOME JK enthusiasts have gone!

          • 0 avatar

            yeah that was just a quick search where, I knew there would be some cars you could relate to. BTW, I am in no way knocking the Jeep, just commenting on the T4′s size and a possible advantage.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Aye, Marcelo. Not trying to argue, merely pointing out that unlike American full-sized pickup trucks, the current JK Wrangler can still go through some pretty tight areas. I do appreciate the size comparisons though… I’m betting rigs like the little Suzuki Samurai was one of those the Troller drivers recommended steering clear of the challenges even though they were similarly sized. I’m rather impressed with the Troller and wouldn’t mind seeing some real competition for the Jeep Wrangler here in the States. (And maybe even see a bit of a price cut.)

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    How do you say “Bronco”? BRONCO, BRONCO, BRONCO! 😁 hope Billy Ford is listening.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Troller…sounds like a wicked Jack Vance creation.


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