This is a Mazda BT-50 pickup truck that’s been converted to look like a CX-5 at the front and has a songthaew rear end. If you’re reading this, you’re either from Thailand or, like me, have discovered something new and interesting.
Nowadays, Mazda is known primarily for its crossovers, which feel very upmarket and have a sporty driving feel as well. The CX-5 is their bread and butter, the 4th best seller for the segment in America, behind the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson.
As you may have noticed, all three of those brands have some kind of small pickup. Toyota has the Tacoma, but also the HiLux, Honda gets you a nice Ridgeline, and Hyundai is actually the most interesting. The Santa Cruz is very much a cross between a crossover and a utility vehicle.
Back in 2006, six full years before the CX-5 went on sale, Mazda also began selling a small pickup. It’s called the BT-50, and the first two generations have a lot in common with the Ford Ranger, and they even came from the same factory in Thailand. As I’ve mentioned on a recent rotary-powered Focus RS rendering, Mazda and Ford used to be buddy buddies.
Anyway, Thailand has some of the best car culture in Asia. And pickup trucks are a big part of it because they’re locally made and thus affordable. CB Media is a YouTuber I recommend following if you want to know more about their builds, and he even covered the awesome Isuzu race trucks they have down there.
Jeepney vs songthaew
From CB Media, I once learned about something called Jeepneys. They’re a popular form of public transportation in the Philipines, sometimes famous for kitsch decorations. As the name suggests, these started off as US military surplus left from the war.
This isn’t in the Philippines, it’s in Thailand. They call them songthaew over there, and Jeeps aren’t used, but the concept is similar. The name literally translates as “two rows” because these things have two longitudinal rows of seats at the back. They’re often adapted from a larger commercial truck or a pickup to be used as a kind of taxi or bus.
That’s kind of the idea here. The rear of the BT-50 is converted to seat two rows of people. However, this is actually a party vehicle, developed by a local builder going by Sun Sound Design. As the name suggests, it’s all about the sound system, as the beautifully constructed rear of this vehicle is filled with speakers. A party on wheels!
By the way, Mazda’s 3rd-generation BT-50 does look a bit like a CX-5 and is based on the Isuzu D-Max, not the Ford Ranger. But this is built on a 2nd-generation, which has more of a 2000s design when stock.
Mostly, I’m impressed by the CX-5 front end on a pickup. I bet a lot of people would buy such a Mazda in America provided the interior is as good as on crossovers and you can have it with the turbo engine. Big hat tip to RodzingThailand for the only clean footage on this awesome build.