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Basic Transportation Vehicles (BTV)
and the Chev Nomad

Throughout the decades countries were under pressure to build their own cars. To achieve high local content with traditional cars is not affordable in small economies. In the developing world thus the concept of Basic Transportation Vehicles (BTVs) with low capital investment and high local content arose. Here are some examples

BTVs were cenerally categorized by straight lines, an angular look and flat windshields. Appearance and weather proofing was traded off for local content. This neat example is the Chevrolet Amigo built by GM in Costa Rica and elsewhere in South America. Note angularity of the doors and straight lines everywhere, but in this case so arrranged that the end result is actually quite attractive, and it might have had good weatherproofing

Other examples were gastly

And some quite primitive

Technically some were more successful than others. The South African Toyota Stallion 1 of the 1980s was far from a good looker and some rusted badly,

but it survived. Its successor Stallion 2 was no longer a BTV, with curved lines, a curved windshield and snazzy looks

A version of the Stallion named the Tamaraw was built in the Phillipines and Indonesia in the 1970s. Note similarity of lines

This example was the CitroŽn YagŠn built in Chile

More examples can be seen on the internet, typically as at a href=""

South Africa was a strong economy in the early days and imported their cars. They came in boxes "knocked down" for local assembly, when 1.0 Rand could buy 1.4 US dollars.

However, in the 1960's an obligatory local content program was introduced by the Apartheid government, motivated heavily by anticipated economic isolationism as formal Apartheid was taking root in the face of international opposition

It also made economic sense and set the scene for greater industrialization. It became an avenue for skills transfer and job creation

High local content for motor vehicles was elusive because of high capital demand, low volumes and wide model proliferation. Many minds were working on ways to indrease local content and the BTV was one avenue, a challenge for some engineers.

One such was Dave Patterson of Pretoria who built a prototype of his version of a BTV. Said prototype came to the attention of Bob Price and with his mandate for General Motors in South Africa, his own entrepreneurial spirit and his affirmative action program, he seized on the opportunity and the Chev Nomad was born.

Bob had visions for a range of models with a variety of utility applications. Specifically he wanted to see the Nomad built in a satelite factory as a Black Empowerment Enterprise

Unfortunately for South Africa a business leader with Bob's style is in demand and too soon he was reassigned elsewhere in the GM corporation.

Those who followed did not share Bob's enthusiasm and vision for the Nomad. It was non-the-less brought into production, but was built at the Kempston Road plant and not in a satelite factory as Bob had envisaged.

Sadly the Nomad was plagued by technical problems which led to its early demise. Vehicles of this type use certain parts from the "parts bin" and their selection needs to be carefully carried out.

The Nomad used the front suspension of the Vauxhall based Chev Firenza which was too light for the extra mass o the Nomad. Additionally the Nomad was promoted as an off road vehicle and thus was subject to higher stress loads. Front suspensions failed and there were some accidents due to this, a dread for a car manufacturer.

Production was halted. After a suitable replacement front suspension was found in the Australian built Holden Torana, production resumed. All prior Nomads were recalled and the improved front suspensions were fitted

The experience soured the internal image of the Nomad and while it was rapidly gaining cult status, it was permanently withdrawn from production by the fickle GM Corporation.

40 years later many Nomads continue to be in the hands of loving owners. Some have two one for the road and one backup for spare parts