Granted, ‘everybody’ might be a stretch, but the Proton Jumbuck has developed a cult following in the UK. How else do you explain the high survival rate and strong values?
Consider the evidence. There are, as near as makes no difference, around 1,200 Jumbucks in the UK. That’s around two-thirds of the number of Jumbucks on the road in 2006. Admittedly, the 2021 figure includes vehicles listed as SORN, but the Jumbuck stands a great chance of outliving the GEN-2 and Impian.
As for prices, you’re looking at anything between £1,500 and £3,000, depending on condition. Punchy prices for a half-tonne pick-up with two seats and a comical name. As anyone who has sung “Waltzing Matilda” knows, ‘Jumbuck’ is an Australian term for a male sheep.
You’d be Jumbucking mad to buy a Proton over a Skoda Felicia Fun, wouldn’t you? Probably, but with Felicia Fun prices heading North – one example sold for £14,580 in February – the Jumbuck might be a canny investment. It doesn’t have a connection to Charlie Dimmock, but it does have Lotus handling.
Lotus worked wonders with the suspension, but while you won’t find a reference to Hethel on the pick-up, the Canary Yellow paint is a definite tip of the hat to its Norfolk heritage. Replace the 1.5-litre engine with the running gear from the Satria GTI and, hey presto, the Proton Jumbuck GTI is born.
Launched in the UK in 2003, the Proton Jumbuck always suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. Not butch enough to carry a Ginsters pasty and a copy of The Sun, but too blunt to cut it at the point-to-point. Was it a lifestyle toy or a commercial vehicle? Proton couldn’t decide and neither could its audience.
‘A supremely capable workhorse, the Jumbuck’s 1.63m long flat-bed makes it equally comfortable carrying a trail bike or jet-ski as it does commercial tools or building materials,’ read the brochure. A payload of 645kg meant that it was never going to trouble the CV heavyweights.
It drove really well. No, really, it did. My spine and ears haven’t recovered from a 220-mile drive in an empty Mulberry Red over Champagne Jumbuck GLS, but it was surprisingly good fun on local roads. The Lotus engineers deserve great credit for creating a silk purse out of the Wira chassis.
I’m almost certain that the Proton Jumbuck owes its existence to the Wira’s inability to keep people safe in a crash. Proton could bypass tougher safety regulations for passenger cars by turning the Wira into a pick-up. A relatively cheap way of extending the life of an already ageing platform.
Along with four trim levels (GL, GS, GLS and GSX), Jumbuck buyers could select from a long list of options and accessories. A Truckman canopy, sailboard carrier, lockable bike carrier, styling bars, roof ladder rack and rectangular driving lights were just some of the options available.
It’s easy to spot a Jumbuck in GLS trim, as these came in a choice of two-tone paint jobs (Mulberry Red or Deep Blue over Champagne). The smart money went on the base GL model in Canary Yellow with a white Truckman canopy. Get rid of the horrid wheel trims and job’s a good’un.
The more I think about it, the more I believe a Proton Jumbuck would be a brilliant support vehicle for the PetrolBlog fleet. Enough for it to overtake the Impian on my Proton ‘most wanted’ list? Probably not, but if the right one came up, who knows.
For now, let us celebrate what must be the most desirable Proton in Britain. Still want that Felicia Fun?
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