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Popular mini truck models include the Suzuki Carry, Daihatsu (Toyota) Hijet, Honda Acty, Subaru Sambar, Mitsubishi Minicab, Nissan (Mitsubishi) Clipper and Mazda (Suzuki) Scrum. All models offer high-quality Japanese design and peppy performance for trails and transportation around town. But each model has its own special characteristics as presented in the following short descriptions of four major models. See our comparison tables for more details.
The Suzuki Carry is by far the most popular mini truck in Japan and you can easily find secondhand models in pristine condition. It also has the best parts support in the United States, partly because so many of its components are shared with later-model Carrys and other Suzuki vehicles like the Jimny. Lightweight and durable, the Carry is great for off-road work. 4WD is available at all speeds, letting you haul loads and travel fast over rough terrain. The highly reliable engine is centrally mounted beneath the front seats with a transmission geared low for hauling.
The Sambar engine is mounted just behind the rear axle, making the ride quieter and less tiring than in models with engines mounted under the seats. This explains why a major delivery company in Japan exclusively uses Sambars. The rear-heavy design is slightly noticed when cornering fast on wet or snowy roads, but the four-wheel independent suspension helps keep everything under control. The rear engine also contributes to solid off-road traction. When the going gets rough and you enter first gear, 550cc models conveniently enter 4WD mode without the need to press a button. They switch back to 2WD when you enter second gear.
The Honda Acty is quiet and comfortable to drive. It supplies more power than other mini trucks when traveling uphill at high speed thanks to basically the same reliable engine powering the Honda Beat sports car and Honda Today. As in the Sambar, a rear-mounted engine (just in front of the rear axle) contributes to a quieter ride, less cabin heat in the summer, higher stability when carrying heavy loads and very slight oversteer when cornering fast on roads covered with gravel, rain or snow. Parts from 660cc models are often compatible with 550cc models.
The Daihatsu Hijet is comfortable, durable and perfect for hauling loads. In comparison with the Suzuki Carry, it offers slightly more legroom in early to mid-1990s models and a higher sense of luxury overall. But the Hijet also tends to cost a little more. Its three-cylinder water-cooled engine is mounted beneath the front seats and delivers excellent acceleration. Hijet parts are easier to find in the United States than parts for any mini truck except the Suzuki Carry. Dump truck models are available.
Mitsubishi Mini Cab
The Mitsubishi Minicab came came into its own from the mid 80’s. Angular headlights became the defining feature of the Minicab’s styling, along with larger windows to improve visibility. A rear wiper, electronic locking rear gate and power brakes were adopted. Mitsubishi began to offer a wide variety of both FW and 4WD model variations. The next generation Minicab incorporated many class-leading features such as an automatic free wheel hubs adopted on all four-wheel drive models. The estate models featured the first sliding sunroof in their class. Mitsubishi also became the first manufacturer to offer a supercharged kei truck.
Mathew was great to work with and made what could be a scary daunting experience very easy. I am super happy with my car and am sure I will be importing with them again!
Working with Mathew and his team was an absolute pleasure. I went from never knowing you could import your own vehicle to owning my own Suzuki Cara within 6 months. Mathew was so helpful and completely transparent with me during the entire process. We spoke on the phone and via email and he helped me pick the perfect car exactly within my requirements. He dealt with my excitement and inexperience with patience and understanding. I couldn't be happier with my experience and will absolutely use Japan Car Direct again when it's time for another project. I highly recommend Mathew and Japan Car Direct.
Just purchased my second car through Japan Car Direct. Could not be more pleased with their customer service. Matt went above and beyond to help me find the right car. Translating countless auction sheets, messaging sellers, requesting vehicle inspections, putting up with me and my requests well after his time in the office, etc. I can happily and honestly say that I would recommend this company to anyone looking to purchase a car from Japan and that you will not be dissappinted. Very kind, helpful and professional. Can’t wait for vehicle number 3.
Mathew and the team are amazing. Bought my first Porsche in Japan and they have helped me all the way through. They are competent and honest people, will definitely be doing more business with them. Thanks guys!
Mat is is the best he was right on target and video descriptions are perfect. Shipping was alot faster than I thought it would be, as JCD didn't mess around. My van was at port and ready to go. I will be using JCD again soon, got my van now I want a car.
I hunted the internet for a broker I could trust with my money. JDC won and I am so happy I went with them. Matt and Yoshi are great. Matt puts up with a very demanding customer in me, I can certainly take up time. Matt sends me cars from the list I sent him, when I don't have time to check the auction. It is scary how accurate Matt is when I ask him to predict a selling price. He is always very close which sometimes is not fun but he really does know pricing. They have walked we through buying two cars now and have held my hand on both. I really apricate all the time and knowledge. After purchase they have also held my hand through the whole import process which can be daunting for a first timer. I am a dealer and Matt is great at suggesting other cars to import as well. I am very satisfied with my choice
What can I say? The service was friendly and good, and I got my car, which ended up being in a better condition than expected. Sure, there were couple of unforeseen snags that no-one had anticipated, but overall, it was an extremely positive experience. Hommat meni hyvin, auto tuli Suomeen eikä noiden pyytämä hintakaan ollut mikään mahdottoman paha.
I bought a 1993 RX7 FD from these guys they are great! Communication was very good, and prompt! Iv has my car now for 6 months and have been loving it! I would recommend emailing them and looking into the options! They are upfront about price and will steer you into the right direction on what the car will take to own! I’m working with Yoshiro to buy another car now! I’m very pleased with the service I received. It can be scary sending lots of money to a person you don’t know for a car you have never seen, but they will come through with everything they tell you they will do!
They've somehow made what was expected to be complicated, so simple. I got all the info I needed and imported my first JDM car without a single problem. Matthew was super fast to respond and always had an answer.
A must for exporting cars from Japan. I've exported various models with these guys now and they have been exactly how we wanted them with no underlying issues or surprises when they arrive. Very pleased and will continue to use these guys in the future!
This was my first time importing a vehicle for my personal use and naturally I was leary about who to go through. After looking through a few other places and after getting in touch with a longtime customer of theirs I decided to try these guys out. I can say without a doubt I'm glad I did. They are definitely professional and know their craft when it comes to getting you your dream car. Everything from getting cars inspected and bidding was completely transparent and went smoothly. I couldn't be happier with the car I bought and I hope down the line I'll be able to purchase another using these guys!! Thanks for all you guys do!!!
I have already purchased 3 cars from this company and have a 4th on the way. They are very nice, extremely helpful, and work around your budget. I worked with Yoshi. He is very nice and made me a lot more comfortable with the wire transfers (after purchasing the vehicle), because let’s be honest, it is nerve racking to send money to a foreign country and have to wait several weeks for your vehicle to arrive. However, everything has gone smoothly, and they make it very easy to import the car of your dreams. I will continue to go with Japan Car Direct for all my japan car needs 😀
Amazing people to work with. Answered any question I could think of and never left me hanging in during the entire process. I was always kept in the loop. Matt and his team are superb in every way. From picking my car out at auction to picking it up at port they were always there and now I have great little cappuccino to drive around now! I will be using them again to bring in another car in the near future that's for sure.