I've been fascinated by these for quite a while, and I'm gathering information on them for a future book project: "These" and "them" are Thai Edan trucks-- possibly the only cottage-industry motor vehicles in the world.
These are farmer's trucks, made in rural workshops in Thailand to order for local farmers. Though there are many small village factories making them, they do appear to have some standardization of design; for example, they all seem to be built around the same 14 (or so) hp diesel Kubota generator motors. They're all wonderfully and elaborately decorated and painted, and, while undeniably crude, seem very capable of doing their job.
I love the ingenuity of these, but I'm afraid they're not going to be around much longer; more advanced, cheap, and modern used Isuzu and Toyota pickups are starting to become competitive with the locally-built Edan trucks, so it's likely just a matter of time before these little workshops shut down. It's understandable, but a shame.
Information about them online is a bit scant, but this blog entry (also where I snagged that picture) has some excellent information from a man who had one built. I'm hoping to produce a nice, big coffe table type book about these, full of good pictures, since I think I'm not the only one who finds these lovely brutes fascinating.
Carrie McLaren & Jason Torchinsky are coeditors of _Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture_. In previous lives, they worked together on the hopelessly obscure and now defunct Stay Free! magazine. He lives in LA and writes for the Onio