Years ago, if you were tired of having sand kicked in your face, you went out and bought a Charles Atlas body-building kit.
Nine times out of 10 you pumped away like crazy for a couple of weeks and then consigned the kit to the back of the wardrobe, reflecting that perhaps, after all, the great gymnasium of life had decreed at your birth that you were destined to be a kickee rather than a kicker.
Nowadays, of course, it’s different. You can become a macho man in a flash with no physical exertion whatsoever, apart from the effort of lifting the thick end of eighteen grand out of your wallet.
You simply ankle round to the nearest showroom and buy a big 4x4 vehicle with a name like ‘Animal’, ‘Warrior’ or ‘Thunder’ – which happens to be the moniker on the latest muscle truck on test here.
Ford’s Ranger truck range comes in several forms, from workmanlike 2x4 regular cab – the kind you see loaded down with bricks and rubbish – to this shining double cab knight of the road clad in menacing black and silver and complete with leather seats.
In between comes a ‘supercab’ which has a bench in the back suitable for short journeys only. Basically, the bigger the cab, the shorter the load area.
Ranger prices start at £10,797 ex-VAT delivered for the basic 2x4 and culminate at £17,597 for the Thunder.
There is a single engine on offer – Ford’s 2.5-litre 12-valve turbodiesel, offering either 83bhp at 4,000rpm and 143lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm or 108bhp at 3,500rpm and 166lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm.
Payloads are 1,180 kg for the regular cab, 1,120 kg for the supercab and 1,135 kg for the double cab and towing capacity for four-wheel drive models is 2,800 kg.
The 4x4s have three transmission modes, 2wd, 4wd high and 4wd low, with a shifting stick alongside the conventional gear lever.
Anti-lock brakes are standard on four-wheel drive models, along with twin airbags.
The Thunder is certainly a head-turner, dripping with chrome and stainless steel and coming with a roar to wake the dead.
And before fleet buyers dismiss this vehicle as a retail trinket, it must be pointed out that firms that wish to make their presence known will certainly achieve that aim with the Ranger.
This vehicle will speak volumes about the company which owns it.
In the front
You have to literally climb aboard this vehicle (entry is by remote control plip lock) and once inside it is very much like all the other double cabs on the road – big, chunky knobs and switches and everything of Tonka toy proportions.
The seats are very American – big and wide for those extra large backsides and rather on the soft, squishy side.
Having said that I drove the Ranger for five hours one day and didn’t suffer from any back complaints.
Legroom is rather at a premium in the rear although passengers will be comfortable as long as they are not too tall.
It’s nice to see that a CD?player is standard.