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Behold: The most forgotten American ute.

Illustration for article titled Behold: The most forgotten American ute.

This is a Leata Cabalero. No, not Caballero, Cabalero. Yes, they misspelled the name of their own car/truck/thing. It was created by a man named Donald E. Stinebauch, because... it seemed like a good idea at the time? Manufactured in Post Falls, Idaho, they made 97 of them between 1976 and 1977 before shutting down production. I guess the idea was that since America at the time liked both personal luxury cars and compact cars, why not make a car that was both?

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Illustration for article titled Behold: The most forgotten American ute.

You could get one in either a coupe or pickup body style, and neither had particularly elegant styling. It looks like a shrunken caricature of the personal luxury cars it was trying to emulate. I like it. It’s silly and ridiculous and fun-looking. And kind of adorable in a slightly goofy/derpy way. But that unfortunately didn’t translate into sales.

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Illustration for article titled Behold: The most forgotten American ute.

It certainly didn’t help that from a technical perspective, it was basically 350 pounds of extra bodywork of questionable quality on a Chevy Chevette chassis with zero mechanical upgrades to handle the extra weight. They somehow made a Chevette worse.

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Illustration for article titled Behold: The most forgotten American ute.

But as both a proud Idahoan and a lover of quirky cars, I gotta say I like these ridiculous little things. You see plenty of LS-swapped Chevettes on the internet, and I imagine doing something similar in one of these would be hilarious. It’s my Holy Grail of weird crappy cars. Long live the Cabalero!

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Illustration for article titled Behold: The most forgotten American ute.

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