Mitsubishi turned a lot of heads at the 2005 SEMA show with their bold Street Raider styling concept. The idea was to give racing enthusiasts a truck to tow their Evos home after a weekend of racing without sacrificing sporty looks or luxury. All of the design work was carried out by Mitsubishi at its Cypress, California, design studio, where a crew of designers mixed classic hot-rod styling with a little import flash. Once they ironed out all of the ideas, the crew of talented builders at Aria Group in Irvine, California, brought the sketches to life.

Beginning with a clay buck shaped over the factory sheet metal, the front air dam was formed out of fiberglass and matches the rocker panel ground effects to create an aggressive look. The remainder of the bodywork revolved around smoothing away any unnecessary lines that might distract from the overall look of the truck. That meant removing the fuel door, shaving the door handles, and reducing the offset between the body and the front bumper.

The casual onlooker might think that the Street Raider is chopped, but the designers at Mitsubishi wanted to be realistic with their concept. Remember, this design study was meant to measure the public's reaction for a possible sport model, and while the shaved door handles are something that wouldn't make production, a chopped top was definitely out of the question. Instead, the Air Ride suspension that brings the Street Raider down to earth combines with the custom air dam; and lower rocker panels stretch the body to the ground, while the matching tonneau cover raises the body line. All of that extra area, combined with the blacked-out B-pillar, increases the body-to-glass ratio and creates the illusion of a chopped top.

The interior was kept simple and tasteful, as a majority of the factory Raider pieces remain, but with added luxury. Brown leather upholstery with white pearl leather accents cover factory seats, and a white Alcantara headliner adds an upscale touch. Music duties are handled by Rockford Fosgate components, with a single RF subwoofer mounted prominently in the center of the cab.

All of the metal trim on the truck, save for the Mitsubishi tri-diamond logo, was treated to black chrome, which provides a nice contrast to the White Tech Pearl PPG paint that covers the smoothed body. The headlight glass, which appears to be smoked, is actually clear, while the reflectors were treated to the same black chrome as the rest of the metal trim. This creates a unique look without affecting the effectiveness of the headlights.

Rolling stock consists of Bonspeed-built, Mitsubishi-designed 22-inch wheels with 265/40/R22 Toyo Proxes up front. Huge 305/40/R22 Proxes are stuffed under the bed thanks to shortened rear axles. Spinning those Bonspeed wheels is the factory 4.7L V-8. Since reliability and towing performance were priorities, the engine modifications were kept to a minimum, with a dual exhaust adding both performance and sound. The other major addition to performance comes from Brembo 6-piston calipers in front and 4-pistons in the rear. They provide serious stopping power-a definite bonus in a tow vehicle.

The Street Raider you see here might be a peek at a future appearance and luxury package from Mitsubishi, so all of you import fans out there, keep your fingers crossed.