Does this House of Kolor Limetime Pearl Mazda really qualify as a truck? Well, let's see. It does have a pickup Bed of of sorts, so mark one down for the truck side of the ledger. But it's based on Mazda Protg5 mechanicals, so does that mean it's really a car by definition? Rancheros and El Caminos, with which it shares some spiritual kinship, were considered trucks in their day, so let's give John Malozsak, owner of automotive-themed apparel manufacturer Ballistic Unlimited (www.ballisticunlimited.com), the benefit of the doubt and simply say it's a crossover sport truck under the influence of the tuner-car movement.

Malozsak is no stranger to the high-profile game of building wild tuner vehicles, having forged successful relationships already with both Mazda and Mitsubishi. But this project, dubbed Ballistic Unlimited Tran-Sport (not to be confused with the minivan), was a bit more ambitious than his previous efforts, none of which required the removal of a structural bit, such as the bulk of the roof.

The original design for the Tran-Sport was based on the idea to produce a two-door, two-passenger vehicle concept aimed squarely at an active Gen-Y lifestyler with a passion for doing rather than watching. From that seed, Malozsak refined the idea, and with the blessing of Mazda, took a production Protg5 sport wagon and proceeded to lop off its top and eliminate the two rear doors to fashion a pickup bed of sorts, this with the help of Pro Design in Santa Ana, California.

From there, Malozsak extensively modified DG Motorsports' existing Protg5 body kit to mate to the now two-door Ranchero-style body. Pro Design was then able to fabricate a removable rack that in its first version was designed to transport skateboards.

The interior of the Tran-Sport always draws attention with its Limetime Green trim painted by Wet Works Garage and accented by orange soft trim, almost in the tone of a high-priced baseball glove. The Cobra Imola II racing seats, distributed by Sube Sports, were trimmed to match the rest of the Stitchcraft interior. The result is a striking contrast, some might say a clash of color, but when you take a look at it, it works. Malozsak admitted to Sport Truck that it is just a little extreme, but is aimed at a specific 18- to 30-year-old demographic.

Since this is a standard-cab pickup, it would present a serious challenge to the mobile electronics wizards at Advantage Audio in Brea, California. They solved the space issues by constructing a multichamber enclosure that houses two Clarion 12-inch subwoofers mounted in the center in a top/bottom arrangement, flanked by two 500-watt Clarion amplifiers.

The center stack houses a Clarion VRX925VD AM/FM/CD/DVD/LCD receiver that controls the audio/video components. With its built-in DVD player and retractable screen, its cutting-edge technology makes the cockpit a very entertaining place to be. Given his background working with fabrics at Ballistic Unlimited, it should come as no surprise that Malozsak handled much of the interior design and the actual upholstery work. The stitching and the attention to every detail are beyond reproach, testimony to his dedication to craftsmanship of the highest order.

While Clarion gear dominates the interior, it's the 19-inch Axis Touring Cup Evolution multipiece wheels that dominate the exterior. The open design of the wheels, shod with 215/35ZR19 Yokohama Parada tires, are perfect to show off the Wilwood 13-inch brake upgrade featuring cross-drilled rotors and six-piston calipers. Keeping the rubber glued to the road is a B&G coilover suspension system. The result is an aggressive look unmatched by any other Mazda Protg5 - or virtually any tuner car (or truck) for that matter.

With the recent addition of the intercooler and the fully functional Nitrous Express two-tank nitrous system, which required Pro Design to rework the bed rack, the upgraded Bosal after-cat exhaust system gives this 2.0L Mazda motor an exhaust note that sounds as if it is emanating from something with twice as many cylinders and three times the displacement.

The flawless paintwork is from the talented gun of Derek Teklak at Body Pros. Over this canvass, long-time collaborator Rob Wilson at Modern Image Signworks applied the attention-grabbing graphics, echoing the same orange accent color used to great effect in the interior.

With a demonstrated ability to turn his vision into reality, we'd really like to see Malozsak turn his attention to a "real" truck. Just imagine what he could do if given an F-150, Silverado, Ram, or even a Titan.