Inexpensive, small pickup trucks used to be everywhere in the US, whether they were from Japanese brands like Datsun or Toyota, the truly weird Subaru Brat or even from Europe with the Volkswagen Caddy based on the Golf. These days that market has completely disappeared, but if you're willing to pick up some tools to build your own, there's a company out there bringing the Caddy back as a kit for the Jetta.

Mark Smith knows a thing about building a vehicle at home. He has over two decades in the DIY-car business as a co-founder of Local Motors and the company that became Factory Five Racing. His latest venture is Smyth Performance and already offers a mid-engine, VW-based kit called the G3F. His new product, though, started as a fluke. "I just wanted a shop truck," said Smith to Autoblog. He already had a Ford F-450 but found that he was driving around with the bed empty most of the time. The result was a pickup truck based on the fourth-generation Jetta that he dubbed the Ute.

The kit retails for $3,500 and ships in three, big boxes, and it's designed to be built and painted in a weekend. Buyers get fiberglass exterior panels, a fiberglass rear window surround, sliding rear window, an aluminum reinforced bed with a tubular steel subframe, taillights, a fully functional steel tailgate, and other parts. In the end, you get a vehicle with a six-foot bed and a payload of around 700-750 pounds. The Ute maintains all of the factory suspension, fuel tank and emissions equipment and requires just a few cuts in the body to complete. "We did a modern Caddy," admits Smith.

Sales are already progressing well for the Ute with "hundreds, not thousands" moved so far, Smith said. You can learn more about this reborn compact pickup at the Smyth Performance website.


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  • 21 Comments
      domingorobusto
      • 4 Months Ago
      This is actually very interesting, and exactly what the vast majority of suburbanites actually need out of a truck, something that can haul a light but tall object efficiently. I know the extent of most peoples hauling needs is a grill or a refrigerator, which it looks like this could haul with ease, and make it out of a diesel and you'll get 40-50 mpg instead of the 18 your average truck gets. This is actually a great idea, and IMO it looks pretty damn good too. Actually, it looks way the hell better than a regular Jetta to my eye. I like it.
        JK Linx
        • 4 Months Ago
        @domingorobusto
        I agree. I have no need for a truck but want one from time to time. This would easily allow me to pick up some lumber, furniture, etc with ease compared to my wife's 2013 Escape
          graphikzking
          • 4 Months Ago
          @JK Linx
          Guys, Subaru has that option for a few years along with AWD and it barely sold. Great idea of a product but unfortunately it didn't sell. I also think they are practical, but people don't always buy practical. This is a 2 seater so it's not nearly as practical as the Baja was.Personally if you just want to haul the occasional grill you can buy a $200 hitch and a small $150 shelf that the grill would sit on. Otherwise you could buy a trailer for $350 and haul 5 people + trunk full of stuff + small trailer full of things. (With diesel engine hauling wouldn't be an issue.
      Dmitriy Markelov
      • 4 Months Ago
      You know....I'm having a hard time being mad at it.
      Farmboy
      • 4 Months Ago
      The greenhouse of the cab looks kinda strange from the profile, but overall, it's a bit impressive. I followed his progress on the G3F and was impressed. He's a real fan of the industry and the Jetta. And since we can't have the Amarok, why not have a modern Caddy? I like it. Also it should be mentioned that the kit is made to be put together without welding and can be done over a (probably long) weekend. That's not a bad price either.
      churchmotor
      • 4 Months Ago
      My father has a 1982 VW Rabbit pickup bought new. Diesel, manual, garaged, only 70,000 miles. He keeps it at the Florida vacation house. He gets offers to buy it every time he drives it.
      sloturbo
      • 4 Months Ago
      This is what I'm looking for. I think it's time to find a Jetta & a sawzall.
      Michael C.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Does it work with the mk4 Golf? R32 pickup would be sick.
      The Wasp
      • 4 Months Ago
      I really like this. Too bad there aren't options for other popular compact cars -- ie Focus, Corolla, Versa. Certainly there are plenty of cheap Jettas around but I'm not about to buy one right as it reaches the point of decay/end of warranty.
      Kris O.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Nobody tell Rutledge Wood.
      Stephen Hardy
      • 4 Months Ago
      Wasn't the MK IV already available as a pickup in the guise of a Skoda Felicia? http://www.autoplenum.de/Bilder/P/p0009311/SKODA/SKODA-Felicia-Pick-Up--1997-2000-.jpg
      k pasa
      • 4 Months Ago
      ahhhhh Das Pickup
      Andrew Rollason
      • 4 Months Ago
      " that he dubbed the 'Ute'."? Really? The word 'ute' appears in Australian dictionaries as far back as 1940. I think that you'll find that Ford built the first 'ute' back in 1932. http://www.fastlane.com.au/Features/1934_ute_brochure.jpg Someone didn't do the research very well, did they?
      Bill
      • 4 Months Ago
      I like this. I Like the idea that you could potentially " repurpose" a reliable if your needs change. Heck, it would be cool if some DIY stake body instructions were out there.
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