SEMA 2019: 1997 Honda Prelude Pickup Conversion “Prelute”

What do you get when you combine a pickup truck bed with a passenger car? There’s no witty punchline here – you get a car-based pickup truck or “Ute” vehicle, though few know the official name of “coupe utility” vehicle. The body style originated in Australia in the 1930s. By the 1950s, it had made its way to America as the Ford Ranchero and soon afterward, the Chevrolet El Camino.

These vehicles were in production for many years and offered a unique experience that many drivers couldn’t find elsewhere: car-like handling and size, but with the cargo carrying ability of a light pickup truck. The Ranchero ended production in 1979, and the El Camino met a similar fate in 1987.

For more than 30 years, no automobile maker has stepped forward to fill the demand for this type of vehicle in the market. As a result, a number of custom “car-based pickup trucks” have begun popping up. We’ve covered a few of them before, such as an E36 BMW Truck, Volkswagen Ute, and an Audi Ute around town.

At the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, I happened across one of the cleanest car-based pickup custom builds I have seen to date. This car began life as a 1997 Honda Prelude, and was converted by the owner Song Toh into a small pickup. In a YouTube video covering the build, Song says it took him 15 months and more than 600 hours of time to complete the build. He has also given the car the incredibly clever name of “Prelute” – a combination of “Prelude” and “ute” – the Australian term for this kind of vehicle.

I saw the vehicle on display at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where it had a steady crowd of admirers. The build photos on the Deviant Customs Facebook page show the progress of the car, from adding additional chassis bracing to the glossy orange wrap, doing basically all of the work himself. Congratulations on a super cool, unique, and very clean build.

Be sure to follow the owner on Instagram @deviant_customs for more updates.

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About Trevor Freeman

Trevor is a real gearhead who loves everything from classic American muscle cars to high-performance exotics. When he's not reading about cars or taking photos at a car show, he's probably out cruising around. He is currently working on restoring a 1980 Chevrolet Monza hatchback.