GMC’s Desert Fox special edition truck celebrated its 40th birthday this year, so, given its history, General Motors saw fit to bring it to Dubai International Motor Show.

In fact, the particular model, a Desert Fox Jimmy, on show at the event had spent its entire working life in Saudi Arabia since first hitting the road in 1979.

But what’s the story behind the GMC Desert Fox? Why is its 40th birthday significant? And is the car really relevant for the Middle East beyond its name?

We asked GMC and here’s what we found out.

The Desert Fox started life in 1977, with a second edition in 1979. It was essentially a special-edition design available for the GMC Jimmy and Sierra. The design incorporated the desert colors of medium buckskin, russet, dark red, light mahogany and deep regal blue – with buckskin or red interior.

But the changes were more than skin-deep. There were a whole bunch of mechanical upgrades applied to the Desert Fox edition. After all, here was a machine designed to take on the harsh terrain of the desert.

For instance, there was an upgraded brush guard and front-end guard equipped with chrome tow hooks and dual, high-intensity off-road lights. Four side-mounted tie-downs were added, as were buckskin-coloured roof racks. The steering wheel was upgraded to a large-grip, leather-wrapped one, and a recovery winch, rear tyre and water carrier were added.

And, actually, both the Desert Fox Jimmy and Desert Fox Sierra featured what were then high-quality audio systems, with four-speaker and two-speaker systems respectively. The AM/FM stereo radios and AM/FM stereos with two-speaker, 40-channel CB transceivers fitted neatly into the instrument panel.

In the Middle East, these were certainly features that appealed, but, more than anything, these cars were respected for being real performers on- or off-road.

And while the likes of the Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol eventually came to be the Middle East’s off-road cars of choice, the Desert Fox Jimmy was actually a big hit in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Plus, let’s face it, 40 years on, it looks friggin’ great.