as well as being produced in South Africa for the local market. The original Ford Bantam (1) launched in 1983 was based on the Ford Escort Mk III. It was produced in the Ford plant in Port Elizabeth and later in the Samcor plant in Pretoria when Ford divested from South Africa. Bantam 1 was replaced by the Bantam 2, with a Mazda 323 6th generation-based Ford Laser front end, and was also branded Mazda Rustler.
The Bantam 3 was launched in 2002, using the Ford Fiesta Mark V (Code named BE91) front end, but still with the Bantam 1 loadbox and basic rear suspension. It is produced in the same plant in Pretoria (Now belonging to Ford again). Engines were 1.3L 8V and 1.6L 8V SOHC Rocam petrol engines and a 1.8L idi normally aspirated Diesel engine. The Bantam 3 shares only the front end with the Brazilian Ford Courier, with totally different rear ends. In 2006, the Bantam 3 benefited from a mild front end and interior face lift. The 1.8L idi Diesel engine was dropped from the line up. In early 2009, the Bantam was facelifted again with new bonnet, headlamps, bumper, rear lights, nomenclature, instrument cluster and interior trim. A Diesel engine was also introduced to the range, the Ford / PSA 1.4 DV4 or Ford DLD engine.
The Bantam is sold successfully as a compact rugged commercial vehicle as well as a leisure oriented privately owned vehicle.