Hauler For More: The Counter Balance Concept Pickup Truck

With a trunk in front, a 5-ft extendable bed in back and an engine in the middle, Elad Barkan's Counter Balance is unlike any pickup truck you've ever seen. The question is, will we ever see it for sale in a dealer showroom?

Barkan, an Italian designer, built the prototype Counter Balance after being rebuffed by one mainstream automaker after another. It seemed even Mother Nature was against him: just three days after completing the prototype, the unique creation was burnt to a crisp by California wildfires. Undaunted, Barkan pored over his blueprints and rebuilt the Counter Balance in under a year.

It would seem Barkan is a man on a mission to reinvent the classic American pickup truck. Indeed, the Counter Balance from Barkan Design differs from today's F-150, RAM and Silverado in a number of important areas.

Take the drivetrain, for instance. By locating the engine beneath the rear seats, space is freed up for a groceries/luggage-friendly space under the hood. Speaking of the engine, it's tuned to run on gasoline, E85 (ethanol) or even propane. How d'ya like THAT Flex-Fuel functionality, Ford!

Out back, a 5-ft open bed is configured to handle most loads but if not, no problem: the Counter Balance's “Smart Bed” extends the length to a full 7.5 feet. Rear seat passengers enjoy a 360-degree view thanks to a rooftop windshield reminiscent of the 1960s Old Vista Cruiser and a raised seating position necessitated by the engine placement.

Although the Counter Balance is all-in on front and rear storage options, it's still about 3-ft shorter than the average full-size pickup due to reduced front and rear overhang. This makes it easy to park and enables wider approach and departure angles. Out back, the standard 5-ft bed holds more (about 60 sq ft) thanks to higher sides, a bonus being improved stability.

While we're at the bed, note that those high sides allow the tailgate to act as a loading ramp. The tailgate also features dual-directional hinges that allows the gate to be flipped up for easier loading and unloading. Last but not least, the bed features an in-bed lockable trunk.

Sounds like the Counter Balance can't miss as Barkan has neatly addressed almost every issue important to pickup truck drivers... though styling is one area that may prove problematic. Does anyone see hints of an ill-advised mating between a Ford Econoline and a Pontiac Aztek here? Can you see Barkan's pride & joy causing Marlboro Men from Montana to tip their stetsons, or will they instead spit streams of Skoal in its general direction? We might learn those answers someday but for now, the Counter Balance remains a curious but promising concept. (via Impact Lab)