Utes were never particularly popular in the United States, even when the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino were sold here. The role of a two-seater with a cargo bed was always filled by the full-size pickup truck, which ironically was pretty much exclusively American. Perhaps that’s why the car-based cargo hauler never took off, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t Ute enthusiasts hungry for something different. Enter Smyth Performance, which among a plethora of other cool Ute creations is close to having its pickup-infused Volkswagen Beetle ready for action. By that, we mean really close – as in just a couple weeks from now.
Specifically, the company’s website says the MkIV Beetle Stepside kit will launch in April, and Mark Smith at Smyth Performance confirmed that in a phone call with Motor1.com. The Beetle in the above photo is a prototype for the pickup conversion, and Smith tells us that 50 kits have already been ordered. It’s not a pricey upgrade either – the first 100 orders will sell for a special launch price of $2,750, and that includes all the parts necessary to build a Beetle pickup.
Of course, you still need a donor car, and if you’re not too sure about cutting up the car yourself, you’ll need a shop to help with the installation. But as Smith points out to us, part of the fun is building this car, not simply buying it.
If a Beetle with a pickup bed doesn’t tickle your fancy, Smyth Performance has conversion kits for a range of vehicles including the Subaru Impreza, VW Jetta and Golf, and even the B6-B7 Audi A4. Should you want a bit more performance in the mix, the company says the Audi kit works for the S4 as well, or if you need V8 power, there’s a conversion for the 2005-2010 Dodge Charger.
In a world where new American muscle cars are nearing six-figure prices and hypercars easily sell for over a million bucks, a two-seater VW Beetle Ute that could realistically be built for under $10,000 all total seems like a very inexpensive ticket to Cars & Coffee stardom. We can’t wait to see the finished project; we will plug in a follow-up when the initial build is complete to share the first Beetle pickup with the world.