Mini Trucks and Kei Turbo Cars

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~ Scott, General Operations Manager

 

Everyone wants a mini truck

Are you looking for the perfect utility vehicle or ATV? Well, the Japanese mini truck is the perfect truck for you! Mini trucks are amazing go-anywhere machines that are fun, durable, easy to maintain and extremely affordable (starting at $800 for a good condition 25 year old one and up to more than $5000 for those around 10 years old with dump boxes). They are just one of the handiest vehicles you can find. They are easily maneuverable, sporting 4WD on all makes with hi and low range. These trucks have plenty of power, unbeatable fuel efficiency (avg. 16Kpl / 36.7Mpg), and of course the comfort of a full cab with optional A/C. All makes have fold down sides and rear gates available, so it’s very easy to haul whatever you are loading on or off. The good thing about these trucks is that most of them will haul 12-1500lbs of load. Opposed to a standard utility vehicle, they have much more payload capacity for their size. Fold ‘em down and rock and roll!

Those that are carbureted can reach 55-60mph, and those with fuel injectors can get up to 65-70mph. They are supremely versatile and can be converted to anything you are looking for, most commonly, a modified dump truck. Mini trucks have been popular throughout Asia for decades. Now the rest of the world is waking up to their practical appeal. This is especially true in the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK, where more and more people are importing used mini trucks directly from Japan.

Mini Trucks

 

Some of the Different Mini Truck Versions

Mini Trucks with dump beds are great for farming, construction sites, landscaping jobs etc.
Mini Trucks

Box Mini Trucks come in standard and refrigeration unit types. Perfect for local delivery of goods that need to be kept dry, safe and even refrigerated.
Mini Trucks

There are also a number of different soft top covers that fit on all stock Mini Trucks.

Kei Truck soft cover

Trucks with lifts make every heavy job safer and easier.
Mini Trucks   

Fire Truck.
Mini Trucks

Gas Tanker.
Mini Trucks

Farm Tanker.
Mini Trucks

Delivery Truck.
Delivery Mini Truck

 

Customers who want to export a Kei Truck from Japan often ask us: What is the Best Kei Truck?

Ouch! This one is hard to answer.

The Japanese kei truck is one of the ultimate utility vehicles. It’s an engineering and mechanical ideal: The Most for the Least / Do More With Less. As such there is little room for frills and fancy stuff in any of the kei trucks, be it the Daihatsu Hi-Jet, the Suzuki Carry, the Subaru Sambar, or any of the others. In a sense, they are all basically alike: tough, simple, long-lasting, cheap to run, highly capable. The most capability for the least metal and fuel and money.

Deciding which kei truck is the best to export from Japan is thus a difficult question because choosing between good and bad is easy, but choosing between good and good is much harder. Whichever kei truck you buy, you get something good and you won’t lose.

I’ve had a number of kei trucks and other Japanese Kei vehicles and, with the kei trucks, my favorite is the pre-October-1998 Subaru Sambar.

What is the best kei truck?

But that doesn’t mean that it’s “The Best.” Although I think it is, or, at least, I like it most; but I’ll be the first to admit its drawbacks. For example, it doesn’t have a full low range like you get with the excellent Suzuki Carry. But I’ve always been well satisfied with the Sambar’s Extra Low as more than enough to get me out of anything off road.

Some guys will swear by the Hi-Jet, or the Acty, or the Minicab, or whatever, and I can’t disagree. Other guys will point out that having the engine at the extreme rear (as in the Sambar) is not ideal due to the increased potential for over steer on dodgy road surfaces.

True. And yet I found more over steer in our two Honda Actys on dirt and gravel roads at speed. Not the fault of the vehicle, really, since only dorks overdrive the conditions, right? But, yeah, I’m sometimes a dork. (Hey, you gotta have fun sometimes, and if you can’t have fun on a middle-of-nowhere back road in your kei truck, then where can you have fun?)

For build quality, many kei truck owners will plug for the Daihatsu Hi-Jet. Again, I’m with them on that, based on the Hi-Jets that I have test driven (although I’ve never owned one or used one for work, so I have no experience on long term with a Hi-Jet). But still, when it comes time for me to look for my next used kei truck, I’m going to look for a nice, fresh, Subaru Sambar.

For all round value and cheap running cost and good parts availability, I guess the Suzuki Carry truck is in the lead, and its full-on low range in 4WD is awful nice. I’ve had good fun off-road in Carrys, both pre 98s and (once) in a newer, post 98 model. That full low range is great. At the moment, I’ve got the use of a newer model Suzuki Carry owned by a lady friend of mine up here on Mount Fuji, so I’m content. I mean, content with the kei truck….well, and the lady friend, too. I’ve got no complaints about her, but I do, actually, have complaints about her kei truck. The late model Carry trucks now have a transmission that I just don’t like. I don’t like the way it goes into gear, too wishy washy and clunky thunky. Guys, go for the older Carry trucks, I think they are better. So, for the folks in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Australia that can’t get the new kei trucks anyway, I’d say you’re not missing anything much. Go old kei truck.

Now, for something to help you decide what may be the best kei truck for you to import from Japan, we have some articles over on our blog here, here, here, and here.

Of course, if you can get the chance to test drive your friend’s kei truck, jump at the chance. The things that make you decide on the kei truck you pitch for, the kei truck that is best for you, may be very subjective. It’s that way for me with the Sambar. This is because, at base, like I said before, all the Japanese kei trucks are good, and are good value. There are no “easy outers” in the kei truck dugout. Every kei truck is a slugger.

Especially these days, with hard economic times coming, due to government responses to the Corona Virus, a Japanese kei truck is going to be the best vehicle going forward, especially for preppers, for people hoping to stay out of the cities but who need to work, get around, stock up, you name it; for hunters who really do need to bring home the bacon (well, the venison, actually); for people who are forced to downsize and cut back on their contracting, landscaping, or small delivery service, again, a kei truck is the best thing to have right now. We’re all going to have to cut back, but with a kei truck, you don’t have to cut back on capability and capacity.

We don’t know what the world will look like after all this is settled. There seem to be fewer and fewer things that we can rely on. But with their high reliability, high capability, and low running costs, I think that we can rely on our kei trucks. They’ll keep their value, too in the months and years ahead.

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Good day!

We will be away from the office while the majority of the auctions are closed from August 7th - August 17th during the Obon summer holiday. 

We hope you are having a great summer and we look forward to getting in touch with you soon.

Thank you.
The JCD Team
Good day!
We will be away from the office while the majority of the auctions are closed from August 7th - August 17th during the Obon summer holiday. 

We hope you are having a great summer and we look forward to getting in touch with you soon.

Thank you.
The JCD Team
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