Johannesburg - Speak softly and carry a big stick,” said former US president Teddy Roosevelt in reference to his tactics in early 1900s foreign policy.
His thinking was basically to always act with non-aggression, but to be able to back himself up with violent action if need be. Food for thought Mr Trump?
The concept applies nicely to our long-term test Amarok V6 too. Here’s a bakkie, finished in unassuming white, with only a pair of subtle V6 badges front and rear to give away the accelerative violence it’s capable of when provoked.
Like a plain-clothes Navy Seal it blends in well with the scenery, going about its business with humble restraint in daily traffic, resisting urges to rise to the challenges of less powerful road users.
But believe us, it can certainly rise when it needs to. The the three-litre turbodiesel ‘big stick’ it wields ticks along with effortless pace at partial throttle, but apply more than half and 165kW and 550Nm are unleashed in a very lively way.
Of course it’s nowhere near as quick as the hottest hatches and super sedans we’ve driven, but there’s something about such immense power in a high-riding pickup that makes it feel quite authoritarian.
Prod the pedal from a standstill and this permanent four-wheel drive double cab launches off the line with a huff of exhaust and a shriek of turbo whine, and with such a hefty torque levels dusting slower traffic with quick blasts on the open road is a cinch.
But, as we South Africans know so well, some people just don’t respect authority.
Our burly Amarok was caught off guard recently, and while unattended and helpless in a Makro parking lot some thieves armed with a bolt cutter made off with its spare wheel.
As many double cab owners unfortunately already know, spares mounted under bakkie load beds are ripe pickings for plundering wheel-snatchers, and in most cases it’s as easy as snipping one securing cable and the wheel drops to the ground like a R25 000 sack of potatoes.
That’s how much our replacement spare cost.
While there are all sorts of wheel-saving devices on the market, ranging from clunky chains and padlocks to clever brackets with lug nut-style wheel locks, we must issue a word of warning on some of these preventative measures.
Any type with a lock and key can cause problems, as exposure to the elements (rust) often means the key won’t work when needed most - such as when stranded roadside with a flat tyre.
Other devices available on popular online shopping sites are misleading in their functionality, and instead of securing the wheel to the bakkie, really only put a lock through a lug hole to make the wheel harder for thieves to use.
Stealing it is just as easy, but an extra bolt-cutting step is needed before mounting the wheel on another vehicle is possible. We’d advise avoiding these products, which are sometimes advertised as “deterrents”.
None of these methods is fail-safe as any item of value mounted externally will always be targeted, but the best solution we’ve found is from a South African company called Grip-Tech. Rather than wrapping a chain and padlock around it in an attempt to keep it safe, it uses a bracket permanently mounted to the factory-installed winch mechanism above the spare wheel.
A threaded rod welded to this bracket then protrudes down through one of the wheel’s lug holes and a locking lug nut secures the wheel up against the underside of the load bed. A protective shoe fits around the lug to make it harder for thieves to break the stud off with a pipe
The kits can be self-installed, in most cases, with basic tools and a modicum of mechanical ability, and the lower locking lug nut comes in a wide variety of coded locking patterns, and requires a matched key to remove.
The Auto-Grip spare wheel lock kits range in price from around R430 to R500 depending on mode.
Grip-Tech also sells matching sets of four wheel locks, tested and approved by the Motor Vehicle Security Association of South Africa, for most bakkies, cars and heavy trucks separately or as a combo package.