I Want to Import a Suzuki Carry from Japan!
Very often our customers come to us and say: “I want to import a used Suzuki Carry minitruck to the USA.” (Or Canada, or the UK, or Australia…..)
We say: “Welcome aboard!”
And then they say: “Is it difficult?”
And we say: “No. It’s not at all difficult to import a used kei truck from Japan to the USA (Or Canada, or the UK, or Australia…), we do it all the time.”
And then comes the harder question and they ask us: “What’s the best kei truck?”
Ouch! This is not an easy question to answer. Lots of beers and lots of smokes and lots of firewood have been consumed during many debates under the stars as experienced minitruck owners chew the cud and chew over this question.
Let’s look at these questions one at a time. So:
Is It Difficult?
If you want to import a kei truck to the USA, it’s easy if the truck is 25 years old, or older. In that case there are basically no restrictions as long as the minitruck is drivable and can be driven on to one of our “roll on roll off” (Ro/Ro) car carrier ships, like this one:
going to Tacoma, Long Beach, Galveston, Jacksonville, and the other east coast ports of entry with RORO service.
When you become a Japan Car Direct customer, we go over all the import rules with you and talk you through the used car import process. (You’ll also find that information on our website. For example, the import rules for the USA are here, and the import process outline is here.)
Importing a used kei truck to Australia, Canada, and the UK is (basically) the same story. For Oz, if the minitruck is 25 years old or older, it’s easy to import; for Canada, it’s fifteen years old or older, and, for the UK, it’s ten and bob’s your uncle. Nice, eh?
But don’t get fussed if the import regs in your country say your used kei truck must be 25 years old. Japanese minitrucks (and other kei cars) are very well built, simple, and long lasting vehicles. (Psst: Japanese cars from the ’90s, Guys, Japanese cars from the ’90s! They are the best. No lie.) At Japan Car Direct we will help you find a good condition, low mileage minitruck (either at the Japanese used car auctions or at the used car dealers here) that will have many years of life and service left on him. (I’m in a 1995 kei vehicle right now and he’s going strong with 197,753km on him as of this afternoon.)
By the way, you’ll find the Australian import rules on our website here, the Canadian rules here, and the UK rules here. The rules for many other countries (like New Zealand, for example) you’ll find on our site under Shipping Destinations on our drop down box tab.
Yeah, But What’s the Best?
Like I said, this is not on easy question. Not because there are any kei trucks to avoid, but because, basically, they are all good machines. Whether you want to import a used minitruck for farm work, for hunting and off roading, for landscaping and construction work, or even for golf course maintenance (for which kei trucks are well suited by the way, see our JCD blog post here), they are all excellent little economical workhorses and you can’t really go wrong with any of them.
Of course, I’ve got my own take on the ones I’m partial to: I’m keen on the Sambar minitruck because of how the trans gives a nice low-low 4WD function just by selecting the “extra low” gear. (Marked “EL” on the shift knob.)
Also, I like the Subaru Clover-Four, 4-cylinder, 660cc motor with the supercharger. That’s what I had in my Sambar Diaz van. The Clover-Four is also very good in NA tune.
And I also plug for the Suzuki Carry minitruck because the transmission is excellent, with full low range and high range in 4WD (of course 2WD high is there, too). 4WD low is really low and the Carry just plows through pretty well anything, whether you’ve got the turbo or the normally aspirated engine. On top of this, the carry is just such a tough old goat and cheep to run. And on top of that, the fact that the Suzuki Carry is the most popular of used minitrucks to import from Japan means that parts and spares are in good supply. There is also lots of parts cross over between the various generations of Carry.
Other guys say “Daihatsu Hi-Jet all the way!” because, in some ways, it’s got a bit of an edge in overall build quality; and based on the Hi-Jets I have driven, I wouldn’t deny it.
On the gripeside about minitrucks I’ve dealt with: having had a Honda Acty for years on my father-in-law’s farm, I like to gripe that it was a bit hard to work on and I wish that the repair access had been better. (Not that it ever broke down much!) And I’m just not a fan of on-demand 4WD systems. I want to choose when to go into 4WD or 2WD. I want to push that lever and engage the system myself, that you very much. Gripe, gripe. (But to be fair though, my father-in-law, after having had that Honda Acty for years, replaced it with…..another Honda Acty! He loved it.)
In the end, it’s an endless question: What is the best Kei truck? We’ve hashed it out a lot at JCD and even written a number of blog posts, which you’ll find starting with “What is the Best Kei Truck to Export from Japan? Part 1” here.
Auto Trans and Other Options
Now, you’ll notice in the photos of this Suzuki Carry that we are looking at here, that the truck has an automatic transmission. The image of The Japanese Minitruck is that it is a pretty no frills thing. That’s mostly true, they are simple vehicles (no power reclining massage seats or wet bar service), but they are not brutal and you can get automatic transmissions and air conditioning, and you don’t have to park it in a cave and feed it bush meat or venison.
So if you’re not an old-school, flea-bitten old puss like me
who is quite happy to shift gears all day long and sweat it out with the windows rolled down in the Japanese summer, and you’d rather have a bit of civilization in your mini truck life, don’t worry, you can have it.
And the minitruck options don’t end there. There are dump bodies, scissors lifts (both very popular options), and a number of other options should you need them. You’ll find out more about kei truck options on our blog; Part 1 is here, and Part 2 here.
So, yes, depending on the country that you live in, it’s easy to import a good used Suzuki Carry or other minitruck from Japan; and we here at Japan Car Direct can help you do that. And, depending on what you want and what your needs are, you can find the kei truck that is best for you; we’ll help you with that. And if you’ve got a specific minitruck option in mind (dump body, scissors lift, etc) we’ll help you with that, too.
Register here and we’ll get the right, good condition, clean, used Japanese minitruck on its way over to you.
Matthew at JCD is the man. I’ve now imported three of my own cars through him. JCD was able to accommodate my unique needs, everything from short turn around inspections,... read moreChan Shin7/29/2022
I highly recommend Japan Car Direct. They help you find exactly what you are looking for and are with you throughout the entire process. Import was seamless. Mike was great... read moreSir Selrahc7/14/2022
Before this I have never imported any vehicles to NZ let alone one from Japan! I decided to give these guys a shot and bought a JDM Tesla into the... read moreEdward Yuan7/11/2022
Great experience. Extremely easy process and Kept me well informed. Highly recommend them if looking to purchase a vehicle from Japan.Antonio Sevilla7/08/2022
It's hard to say anything that hasn't been said from other reviewers! This was my first experience importing a vehicle. Mike Nguyen was super patient with me and my indecisiveness.... read moreLaw_of_the Za6/30/2022
I used Japan Car Direct's services to import a Nissan Silvia from Japan to Australia. Mike was very helpful from start to finish and definitely made the process stress free.
The... read morematthew martin6/24/2022
Just picked up my car that I bought through JCD. I was a complete newbie about buying a car overseas and Mathew was kind enough to basically hold my... read moreTK Mad6/18/2022
I worked with Mathew on getting my first Japanese Kei truck. The process and communication were great. For me the back-and-forth communication was the reason why I decided to go... read moreJohn Penny6/12/2022
Taylor at JCD has been incredibly helpful in my search for a couple of unique rigs from overseas -- We've scored one, and are looking forward to finding another.
Taylor's professinoalism,... read morecamden lindsay5/31/2022
After seeing quite a few Kei Trucks on the road, I was intrigued. Seeing the local retail prices gave me sticker shock, so I immediately thought there has to be... read moreChris Okano5/24/2022
Can't fault these guys - this was the first time I've bought a car at any auction, let alone one in Japan. The support from Yoshiro was brilliant, very patient... read morePhil Stebbing4/14/2022
Japan Car Direct helped me find my dream car. We found a great deal on an ST205. Yoshiro was fantastic and super responsive and patient with all of my questions.... read moreBrandon Moore4/11/2022
So pleased with our companies new Japanese mini-truck import. Japan Car Direct made it all too easy. We made a few first-timer mistakes on the paperwork but the next import... read moreMARKNADEN Studio4/08/2022
Great dependable business! Highly recommended! Thank you Mathew for all your hard work!Dmitri Gordei3/30/2022
Yoshiro and the folks over at JapanCarDirect are the best! They were super helpful with my first time importing a vehicle to the US and were quick to answer all... read moreMike McD3/20/2022