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Small trucks are experiencing quite a big resurgence here in the United States. Brands like Ford and Hyundai have introduced new compact pickups, and they have proven to be fairly popular. But if you are fascinated by the utes that can be found in places like Australia, you likely know that the Maverick and Santa Cruz lack some key ute features. There is a solution, though, as Smyth Performance will sell you a ute conversion kit for your Volkswagen Jetta.

Is the Volkswagen Jetta a truck?

The Volkswagen Jetta does not start off life as a truck, but that has not stopped folks from converting them into a pickup. The Smyth Performance Ute kit will allow you to turn your Jetta into a ute, so long as it falls between the 1999.5 and 2004 model years. The kit is also compatible with the VW Golf. 

In terms of cost, you can get a Smyth Performance Ute conversion for your VW Jetta for around $3,500. It comes with everything that you need as well as instructions. Of course, you can likely have a professional do the conversion for you if you do not feel comfortable doing it yourself. 

Is a ute conversion a good idea?

Without hands-on experience, it’s hard to say if converting a Volkswagen Jetta into a ute is a good idea. Undoubtedly, the structural integrity of the car might be compromised. But frankly, this Smyth Performance kit does look extremely attractive. 

A Volkswagen Jetta modified with the Smyth Performance Ute conversion kit.
VW Jetta Ute | Smyth Performance

One of the major perks of using a VW Jetta as a donor car is that you can create a small truck with a diesel engine. And among a lot of enthusiasts, that is a solid proposition. Better yet, you can even source a Jetta with a stick shift. So that would make your Jetta ute a hit at the next cars and coffee meetup. 

Why don’t we have utes in America?

It’s pretty simple to see why we don’t get utes in the United States, typically, modern truck buyers prefer something with serious road presence. Hence why vehicles like the Ford F-150 have gotten so large. Utes don’t really offer that masculine feel, which means it might not be worth it for a company to make a true ute. 

Purple 2010 Holden Commodore Ute Parked at a farm
2010 Holden Commodore Ute | Holden

The other problem lies in the Chicken Tax. This tax was issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson, at it put a 25% tariff on light trucks. When that happened, foreign automakers lost a reason to sell small trucks in the United States. And oftentimes, it was those companies who build vehicles like that. 

How can you convert a VW Jetta to a truck?

According to Road and Track, the Smyth Performance Ute kit is a popular option for those that want to convert their Jetta into a pickup. It seems to be fairly easy to install, with plenty of Youtube videos out there to demonstrate the process. 

A red VW Jetta that has been converted into a ute for added practicality.
Volkswagen Jetta ute conversion | Smyth Performance

A Jetta ute might not be practical for everyone. But in the automotive world, it’s great when we don’t take ourselves too seriously. There’s just something fun about a small pickup truck that looks like it belongs in Australia, not the United States.


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