When a four-wheel drive is too big and a UTV too small, a small pick-up conversion could be the answer. Jane Carley finds out one user’s view of a Suzuki Jimny pick-up.
With 1,700ha of owned, contract and share farmed land in Staffordshire, James Startin has plenty of use for vehicles that can perform on and off road.
A Polaris Ranger diesel does duty in the field and as a run-around, while Mr Startin also has Land Rovers and pick-up trucks at his disposal.
He says; “I wanted a vehicle that was more of a cross-over, to do similar jobs to the Polaris but with better road performance, as some of our work involves 15 mile trips,” he explains.
This includes slug pelleting and spraying, and Mr Startin comments that given the busy roads in the area, if he needed to travel some distance, it was safer to load the Polaris onto a truck.
However, some internet research found that that local ATV dealer Shropshire Quads was converting Suzuki Jimny four-wheel drive vehicles into off-road pick-ups.
Originally developed by Suzuki itself and manufacturer-approved, conversion kits are built in Austrian, and include a rear bulkhead and heated window, plus a fixed pick-up bed as standard.
To make the vehicle suitable for off-road use, Shropshire Quads lifts the chassis by 76mm (three inches) with uprated spring suspension and shock absorbers, giving a progressive suspension action which not only carries more weight, but also improves the ride when the cargo bay is empty.
The most recent versions also benefit from an aluminium ladder rack/rear window protector and rounded profile tyres for improved road performance.
Mr Startin explains; “We visited Shropshire Quads which had one in build on a 2007 chassis so we decided to buy it. I would ideally have liked a new vehicle, but it was very tidy and only had 50,000 miles on the clock.”
The Jimny can be mounted with a Stocks Fan Jet twin slug pelleter, spreading to 32m depending on the quality of pellets, and is capable of towing a trailer load of pellets behind.
“One man can go on his own to spread 80ha of pellets and be back by lunchtime. We also fit a 200 litre Enduramaxx sprayer with a boom for spot spraying, or we will simply use the Jimny as a run around to deliver tools, inspect crops, etc.
“The drivers have the choice of vehicle and it is the Jimny that gets use the most, which says a lot,” Mr Startin explains.
“It is not as good on the road as a standard pick-up, but it is better in the field, especially with its chunky tyres, and can get to places we would never go with a Land Rover,” he comments. “It is slightly heavier than the Polaris but the taller wheels mean that it travels better over the ground.”
Despite the taller outline of the Jimny, Mr Startin suggests that stability is not an issue, although it does not tend to be driven at speed off-road. “Even with the pelleters sitting up high, it does not feel unstable,” he comments.
He adds that the truck cab is more comfortable than a UTV, which is ideal for a full day spreading pellets, with a good heater and cab, plus a smoother ride quality. Tackling longer road distances is also safer, he suggests, due to the higher travel speed and greater size of the vehicle, which makes other drivers more respectful.
“It is a petrol engine which is not ideal but not an insurmountable problem; a bigger petrol tank would also be handy as we have to fill up every day if the Jimny is getting a lot of use.”
Running costs are otherwise low, comments Mr Startin. “We have our own workshops so can service it in-house and parts are cheap and readily available. It is taxed as Private Light Goods so that we can travel greater distances. Although it is eligible for registration as an agricultural vehicle, we felt the difference in cost was worth it for the extra benefits.”
With conversions now available on more recent Jimnys, from 2012 on-wards, he reckons his next move might be to go for a newer version and trade in the current truck.
“We would normally keep a UTV five years. If we could change the Jimny for £5,000 in a couple of years, we would consider it. But otherwise it is the sort of vehicle you keep on farm as long as it will keep going. It has covered 5,000 miles in 18 months, so although it is kept busy it is not as if it has a hard life.”
As well as converting used Suzuki Jimnys, Shropshire Quads can now also convert new-builds into pickups (see above picture).
The conversion kit for the new Jimny works on the same principle as the old model, featuring a metal rear bulkhead panel with rear heated window. Plastic side mouldings are bonded to the side of the cab for aesthetics and allow the cab to fir flush with the rear pickup bed, says the manufacturer.
The rear pickup bed is made from stainless steel and aluminium, using flush fit latches to hold the removable rear tailgate closed, with the fuel filler built into the rear pickup bed.
Shropshire Quads says the new Jimny pick-up can be modified in the same way as the outgoing model, to suit each customer’s individual needs. This may be 25mm of suspension lift or 75mm to enable the use of flotation tyres for field work.
Power is courtesy of a 100, 1.5-litre petrol engine.
Pickup bed dimensions