Mini Trucks and Kei Turbo Cars

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Import your own great condition, low mileage mini truck for as low as $3,000 today!

~ 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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  • 5 star review  Mathew at Japan Car Direct has been a HUGE help and continually went above and beyond with assisting me. It was my first time bidding on vehicles at auction and having them shipped to the US. He even helped me arrange a mechanic in Japan to do some work on the Hiace I purchased so that it would arrive in the US in tip top shape and be ready to hit the road. I look forward to doing more business with Mathew in the future and you should too!

    thumb Charles Gross
    8/12/2020

    5 star review  I was totally clueless and was having a really hard time finding someone that I felt I could trust to help me with these auctions. A couple folks recommended Mathew over at JCD and I very reluctantly reached out. Yeah, I have trust issues. Dude put me at ease and really walked me through the whole process. After a couple months I didn’t end up buying a vehicle, but that’s on me. When I changed my direction, Mathew helped me wrap things up and wished me well. I have zero reservations about reaching out to these guys or recommending anyone else to do so. Very helpful, knowledgeable, prompt and everything I needed. You won’t be disappointed.

    thumb largejohn77
    7/17/2020

    5 star review  Ordered an Acty Van with these guys. five star service all the way. everything went perfect!!!. I was so afraid to import a car myself. JCD made it seamless. I would import wit them and only them again and again. Thanks guys!!

    thumb Scott Irby-Ranniar
    7/17/2020
  • 5 star review  Discovered KEI vehicles about a year ago and spent many hours searching the internet in hopes of finding an affordable van state side, to no avail. That is until I sent a message to Mathew at JCD. He was quick to respond, answered way too many of my silly questions, and worked diligently to find the right van for me. He is thorough, clear, and timely. Made the process simple and enjoyable. I am more than excited to work with him again. I highly recommend the service these gentlemen provide.

    thumb Benjamin Ferguson
    7/09/2020

    5 star review  Matt made importing a few mini trucks for our farm a breeze. Super easy to deal with and transparent with all the details involved in bidding and winning auctions, the import process, and everything in between.

    thumb Ben and Maggie O'Brien
    6/30/2020

    5 star review  My truck had been stolen and Matt was helping me bid on mini-trucks to replace it. Of course once we started bidding the truck was recovered, but Matt was upfront and very helpful both getting into and out of our auction based relationship. I would not hesitate to work with JCD again!

    thumb William Gundy
    6/28/2020
  • 5 star review  I worked with Mat and i believe i couldn't have done any better. This was my first time dealing with importing, Mat was so patient and helpful through this purchase. I also feel he got me the best deals, i have since the first purchase made two more and will continue to do business with Mat.

    thumb robert barnowsky
    6/16/2020

    5 star review  I purchased three vehicles from auction with Matt, he made it extremely easy and was available whenever I needed him throughout the entire importing process. This is not the last time I will be dealing with them. I plan to order more vehicles in the near future! If your looking for a trustworthy company to order vehicles through I highly recommend JCD!

    thumb dylan christner
    6/07/2020

    5 star review  Mathew was super helpful if helping me get more info and bid on cars I was interested in.

    thumb Matt Sparkman
    5/16/2020
  • 5 star review  Mathew and the gang were great with helping me with the acquisition of my 1994 Subaru Sambar dump kei truck. I was so excited about getting a truck I was ready to buy just about anything. Matt put the breaks on that and used his experience and knowledge to weed out the potential problems. I use my truck almost daily around our farm moving things and as a work surface. It is great. Mathew and Japan Car Direct helped my sister get a kei truck as well and I have and will continue to recommend them to anyone who has expressed interest in my great little vehicle.

    thumb Eric Amon
    5/12/2020

    5 star review  I purchased a 1994 4wd Suzuki Carry Kei truck through JCD. Yoshi helped me during the process and after nearly 3 months and over 100 emails back and forth between questions and translations of auction sheets I finally decided on a truck. I've now had it for nearly a month and couldn't be happier with the purchase. They are extremely promt with responses and answered all questions I had. Being completely new at the importing process I never felt uneasy with my decision. If I ever decide to import another vehicle I will definitely use them again.

    thumb brandon spaur
    5/06/2020

    5 star review  Excellent service from beginning to end. I registered over the new year holidays and received an automatic out of office response and also still received personal response indicating when auctions resumed. The process takes doing your own due diligence to study the cars you want but the guys at JCD will assist where they can as well.

    thumb Mike Witting
    4/10/2020
  • 5 star review  When I thought about importing a vehicle from Japan, I was a little apprehensive. I read some real horror stories. Once I got in contact with Yoshi, he put me at ease. The entire crew at Japan Car Direct made the process effortless. From translations, to inspections, to the auctions, I felt comfortable with the entire transaction. The hardest thing was waiting for the ship to arrive at port with my new truck. I highly recommend JCD to anyone considering a vehicle import from Japan.

    thumb Doug Uken
    4/08/2020

    5 star review  The entire Team at Japan Car Direct has been incredible at making purchasing a vehicle from Japan quick and effortless. Matt and Yoshiro are extremely friendly, and have performed above and beyond my expectations from start to finish. No matter how many questions you may have, these guys will know all the right answers! If you’re looking for a vehicle from Japan then look no further than Japan Car Direct. 10/10 ⭐'s

    thumb Tanner Whale
    3/10/2020

    5 star review  After ordering my minivan from Mathew and the folks at JCD, I will definetely use them again. Took three months to get the van but I am on the other side of the world. Van arrived in better condition than I expected although battery was dead and gas was extremely low. Other than that, the documents were sent to me promptly and the process of registering was seamless with the supplied documents. Thank you Matt and team and I look forward to working with you in the future!

    thumb Grant Kirby
    1/29/2020

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