Sunday, July 08, 2007

Cars That Were Cars That Are Now Pick-ups And Probably Should Have Stayed Cars

The Chevy El Camino and its less-known Ford counterpart (and predecessor), the Ranchero, are not well regarded in the minds of the American public. They are seen by many as the auto equivalent of the mullet hairstyle, a sort of ‘business up front, party in the back,’ and not in a good way.

After all, if you really wanted to haul stuff, you’d by a real pick-up truck, right? The idea of seeing an El Camino loaded with lumber and equipment is laughable, and so is the notion of a guy taking a woman out for a night on town in one of them. Maybe the car-truck combo is best left for the permanent bachelor, the sleazy man about town whose work doesn’t require cargo space.

I’m being so hard on these pick-up bed cars because I can’t justify my love for them. Nearly every automaker has had one in production at one time or another. The Subaru Brat, the Dodge Rampage -- Volkswagen even made a pick-up bed Rabbit. For those desirous of a pick-up bed in a car that didn’t come that way off the showroom floor, it was custom time.

Here, in the first part of what I hope will become on ongoing series, is a brief survey of one marque and its pick-up bed possibilities. In this installment, the French automaker, Citroën.

1. Don't think that the pick-up bed car concept is over. It ain't even done with in France. This glorious 2007 six-wheel-drive prototype Cruise Crosser is made on the C-Crosser SUV platform. The last axle is powered by an electric motor in back, not the turbo diesel under the hood.

2.The Citroën Xantia pick-up conversion, alas, may only be available as a scale model.

3. Here, a DS 23 Safari, previously a station wagon, was turned into a pick-up by the owner after some roof damage.

4. The DS makes a good pick-up. Here are some jubilant Parisians in a DS sedan conversion.

5. Even the diminutive 2CV makes a good pick-up.

6. This handsome 2CV Truckette has a custom-built wood cargo bed. It's also a covertible.

7. Finally, the best of all: the Citroën SM, famously modified into a pick-up by SM restoration specialist Jerry Hathaway.

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