Morton Utility Division (MUD): Workhorses for the Masses... And The Wealthy
The Morton Utility Division (MUD) was founded in 1985 to meet the need for light trucks, SUVs and vans in a variety of sectors. Its first product, the Blackrock, was available with a pair of overhead-valve engines: a 3.6L I6 or a 5.7L V8.
The 3.6 came in at $14280 with a 20% markup; the 5.7 retailed at $18,000 with the same markup.
The Blackrock was offered alongside a larger truck, the Ouray. It had the 5.7L V8 as standard and was available from $23,160.
In 2000, MUD released a utility van called the Tradesman. Although it was powered only by a 2.0L I4, its immense cargo capacity and low running costs endeared it to many freight companies worldwide.
Their current flagship, the Titanite, is a luxury SUV built on a stretched Opulence platform, first sold to the public in 2013. The Dirt Warrior variant shown below mixes off-road capability with surprising on-road performance, thanks to its 5.0L V8 and specially tuned suspension. Unlike the Opulence, however, it is available with an additional row of seats.
This wasn't the sub-brand's first attempt at going upmarket, though. 21 years earlier, they had built a ladder-framed SUV, the Diorite. The flagship 4.4 borrowed the engine from the facelifted MAD Corsair II (more on which will be revealed in a subsequent post) and had retuned suspension for improved on-road dynamics, without sacrificing too much off-road capability.
As the SUV sector became increasingly popular over the years, demand for the Diorite, particularly the 4.4, grew steadily every year, until production finally ended in 2002. Today, it retains a dedicated following from devotees of the brand. However, even this wasn't the most outlandish car ever built by MUD, nor was the Titanite. That honor goes to the Ouray Super Cab, a high-performance model built in limited numbers. Its engine was enlarged to 7.0L and fitted with forged internals in addition to a high-lift camshaft, and a premium interior was fitted on the inside. On top of that, it had larger alloy wheels and quad exhausts.
The only real problem it had - and a major one at that - was its immense thirst, even more so than the base model, and not surprisingly, it was made in limited numbers. Nevertheless, the build slots for this variant filled up very quickly - illustrating the immense demand at the time for a very powerful and plush off-road truck.