Watch: the History of the Beutler Pickup

Nowadays, if you want to turn a passenger car into a pick-up—actually Ute is probably apter here—you go to Smyth kit cars, but people have been turning VWs into Utes since the ‘50s.

This video from DW tracks the history of the Beutler Pickup, which in 1950 set out to turn the Beetle into a Ute.

What possessed this car’s creators to pen this pickup mystifies, but the weirdness plus time equals classic status.

The obvious problem with turning the Beetle into a Ute is that the engine is in the back, where the bed traditionally goes in a pickup. Beutler’s solution—I use the term wrongly—was to raise the bed until the floor was about even with your head, ensuring that it was good to haul… I dunno, Ikea flat pack furniture, I guess?

Allegedly, it was good to haul 385 kg (850-ish lbs), but with a 25 hp engine, it would take some bravery take that much weight up a hill.

Build quality was at least good, as the Beutler was hand-built in Switzerland by a company more accustomed to coach-building for luxury manufacturers. That, unfortunately, meant that it cost more than anyone who needed it was willing to pay.

As expensive as it was useless, production topped out at 10. So it wasn’t a thrilling success, but as the video suggests, this preceded the pickup version of the Microbus and the Kleinlieferwagen mail truck and so can be seen as a milestone in VW development.