Proton Preve Ute by Bufori-01

Here’s something interesting that was pointed to us by readers. Yup, it is what it looks like, a pick-up version of the Proton Preve, spotted at Bufori’s Kepong headquarters and driven by Tun Mahathir Mohamed.

The black Preve sedan in the pics has had two of its rear doors chopped off, and in their place is an open bed. There’s a small space behind the two front seats, king-cab style, and a truck style rear window. The dashboard is stock Preve, except for a push button gear selector panel in place of the traditional gear lever and an electronic parking brake. It’s clear by now that Tun doesn’t like gear levers.

Of course, Proton has done this before with the Arena in the early 2000s. Based on the Wira sedan, the Arena was also known as the Jumbuck in Australia, where it sold in relatively decent numbers due to the unique layout. They call pick-up trucks “utes” Down Under, and the tailgate of this Preve pick-up has a “Ute by Bufori” emblem. A new-age Arena in the making?

We’re not counting on that happening. First, Tun Mahathir is no longer in the Proton driving seat having resigned from the national carmaker’s chairman post in March. In his own words, he is “persona non grata” in the eyes of the government, which Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak made rather clear at the launch of the Proton Perdana.

So, the sight of him driving an unknown Proton at Bufori – which can customise anything one desires – probably means less today that what it would have meant if he was still steering Proton. Our speculation is that this isn’t a current official Proton project and could be just an experiment.

After all, Proton has more serious things to worry about – the Perodua Bezza is off to a flying start and its two new bread and butter sedans (Saga and Persona) can’t come soon enough. Still, a “new Proton Arena” is quite an interesting prospect, isn’t it?

GALLERY: 2015 Proton Pick-up Concept