Trucks & SUVs

7 Wild Pickup Truck Conversions

Simone Giertz’ “Truckla”, while not a factory Tesla pickup, is almost certainly the first Model 3 ever converted into a truck. But the idea of turning a normal car into a pickup isn’t new. The first pickups were actually just car chassis that buyers fitted truck beds and bodywork onto. And over the years, quite a few rather unusual vehicles got the truck conversion treatment.

BMW M3 Pickups

2011 BMW M3 pickup concept | BMW

No, this isn’t a render. For April Fools 2011, BMW showed this modified M3 off to the world. While it is a one-off, it actually runs and drives. Quickly, too: this M3 pickup has been spotted hanging around the Nurburgring. Considering it has the E90 M3’s 420hp V8, and weighs roughly 110 lbs less than the convertible (which provided the body shell), this shouldn’t be a surprise. However, it’s more likely it’s fulfilling its duty as a gear-hauler for BMW’s M Division. It is road-legal and can carry up to 992 lbs in the bed.

1986 BMW M3 pickup concept | BMW

But this isn’t the first factory-made BMW pickup (and we’re not counting those Red Bull Mini Coopers). It’s not even the first M3 convertible-based pickup. Way back in 1986, BMW turned a first-gen E30 M3 convertible into a pickup. As with the 2011 one, M Division needed to transport equipment, and there happened to be a clean convertible (already with built-in bracing) lying around. Initially powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder (the so-called “Italian M3” engine), the E30 M3’s full-size 2.3-liter, 230-hp four-cylinder engine was later installed. This truck ran so well, it wasn’t retired until 2012.

Honda Civic Type R Pickup

Honda Civic Type R pickup | Honda UK

Turning high-performance cars into utilitarian work haulers seems to be a running theme for factory motorsports teams. That or engineers just really want to make racing pickups. Taking a page from BMW, a team of Synchro Motorsports engineers at Honda UK’s Swindon factory turned a Civic Type R into a sporty ute.

Much like Simone did with the Truckla, the Honda engineers essentially removed the top half of the CTR from the B-pillars and back. The resulting area was given a metal diamond plating-lined bed and rollbar. But the rest of the vehicle, powertrain and all, is stock. The engineers even kept the enormous wing and the part of the trunk lid it attaches to (which is why some call it a ute, rather than a true pickup), so the rear and sides of the bed essentially swing out of the way.

Ottowerks BMW 1602 Pickup

Although the BMW M3 pickups are factory one-offs, there is plenty of support outside the factory for turning cars into pickups. One such place is California-based tuner Ottowerks, responsible for this BMW 1602 pickup.

Starting with a 1971 BMW 1602 coupe, Ottowerks cut out the rear roof, took out the rear seating, and added a truck bed and wheel well covers. Unlike the previous BMW pickups, though, Ottowerks also swapped out the engine. Instead of the factory 1.6-liter 84-hp four-cylinder, there’s now a different BMW engine, a 169-hp 2.5-liter six-cylinder.

This particular 1602 pickup was sold at auction, but you could always commission another one.

VW Jetta/Golf and New Beetle Pickup

Volkswagen Golf Smyth Performance pickup
Volkswagen Golf Smyth Performance pickup | Smyth Performance

There are a few vehicles that never made it over to the US. One is the Australian ute, essentially the final evolution of the Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Ranchero. Another is the VW Amarok, a mid-size pickup with quite a hefty payload. Volkswagen hasn’t offered a pickup in the US since 1984 when the Rabbit Pickup bowed out.

Volkswagen New Bettle Smyth Performance pickup
Volkswagen New Bettle Smyth Performance pickup | Smyth Performance

However, if the manufacturers won’t make them, someone else will. Smyth Performance sells conversion kits to turn several different cars into utes. Among them, the Volkswagen Jetta/Golf and New Beetle. The New Beetle kit even turns it into a stepside.

The kits cost $3500 and come with a full build manual. Don’t let the DIY intimidate you: assembly requires no welding, so all you really need is a Sawzall, basic tools, and a driveway. Rutledge Wood from Top Gear USA (whose first car was a VW Rabbit Pickup) built one.

Miata Pickup

NA Miata pickup truck conversion
NA Miata pickup truck conversion | Craigslist

Again, if the factory won’t make it, someone else will. A few years ago, someone in Sacramento, California put this stretched Miata pickup on Craigslist. Car Throttle reported that the seller asked $6000 for it.

The posting as since expired, but the Miata was allegedly being sold under a salvage title. Considering the state of the bodywork, that’s unsurprising. This was also most likely a purely homemade job. However, we must give props to whoever was crazy enough to do this.

Corvette Pickups

C4 Corvette ZR1 pickup | Classy Auto

Corvettes are popular cars for modification, and not just for performance. Callaway, for instance, will turn your C7 Stingray into a shooting brake. But for a Corvette pickup, we once again have to turn to homebrewing.

A decade ago, there was this Corvettamino ZR-1, a mashup of an 84 ZR-1 front with a custom 91 rear. Then last year, two different builds popped up.

1979 Corvette custom pickup | Craigslist

One was based on a 1979 Corvette and featured custom bodywork and a covered wood-lined bed.

1976 Corvette pickup | eBay

The other was this Corvette Safari build. But it’s a Corvette in body only. The 1976 C3 lines sit on the frame from a 1987 Blazer. The tailgate is also from a Blazer, although the bed is not. Under the hood is a mildly tuned 305 cubic-inch V8, and the four-wheel drive is fully functional.

And it’s not even the wildest pickup conversion here.

Smart Fourtwo 6-wheeled Pickup

Smart Fourtwo 6-Wheeled pickup
Smart Fourtwo 6-Wheeled pickup | eBay

Smart, although now defunct in the US, once previewed a pickup concept. Swiss company RinSpeed also made their own Smart-based pickup, although the bed was detachable. But both pale in comparison to this.

Smart Fourtwo 6-Wheeled pickup
Smart Fourtwo 6-Wheeled pickup | eBay

Someone in Quebec, Canada took two Smart FourTwo’s, and smashed them together. Perhaps they were inspired by Mercedes’ 6×6. Only the middle of the three pairs of wheels are powered, sadly. However, because of how this “Smartruck” was constructed, this was a pickup with both a bed and a trunk. If nothing else, it’s certainly unique.