Hooniverse Van-Tastic Weekend – The Tag Says "Dry Clean Only"

I can't be alone in wanting to make a WRX powerplant fit in this Subie…

While the big powerful domestic vans are perfect for those people who need to haul around, say, a thousand pounds of cardboard boxes, what about those people who need to haul, say, seven dozen roses. Or six Honda alternators?
Let’s face it, not everyone needs the space and utility offered by a full-size van. Obviously, this is the reason Ford recently introduced the Ford Transit Connect; in Canada, however, Ford is pretty late to the game. In all the major cities, these kei-trucks are everywhere, and used by businesses as small delivery vehicles. They have enormous utility, and a tiny footprint. I’ve driven a Mitsubishi Delica 4×4, and while it is a bit of a frightening experience, the appeal is undeniable.

I submit that these little vehicles are the spiritual successors of the cabover Econolines from the 1960’s. They feel similar, they are just as… weird… to drive, and their emphasis is on a small size with maximum utility. We’ve already established that there is a market for these vans around here… but what about in your neck of the woods? Would a micro-van like this have a buyer where you live?

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  1. Paul_y Avatar

    I want a fleet of Kei vans and trucks more than words can describe.
    My alma mater had a phalanx of Daihatsu HiJet 4×4 pickups for maintenance. They're about the size of a John Deer 6×6 Gator, but a thousand times more hilarious/awesome.

  2. Chad Avatar

    I would trade my WRX in on one of these. No joke.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      There is a version with a symmetrical all-wheel-drive…

  3. JayP Avatar

    If there is not a spec series for these mini-mini vans, then someone start one.

  4. Feds_II Avatar

    These kei trucks and vans really make a lot of sense for Universities, cities, etc. who have to access tight and./or slightly off-road areas.
    Unfortunately, the public sector is exactly the kind of place that would rather spend $25k on a Kubota RTV with cab, heater, lights, etc., THEN have to outfit the operator with hearing protection, helmets and reflective vests, instead of spending $5k on one of these.

  5. fede6882 Avatar

    it's full of this things where i live (uruguay), also on pick up version, nowadays most of them are chinese and quite ugly.

  6. Lotte Avatar

    Haven't seen as much here on the east side of the coast, but they are here. I've seen one with a VW Bus look-alike front end.
    Actually, they do have aftermarket American van front fascias! Couldn't find an Econoline, so this'll have to do. I wonder why they based it on a snub-nosed van, but it does say something about the "spiritual successor" analogy:
    <img src="http://cache.jalopnik.com/assets/resources/2007/01/damd_locoboy_van.jpg&quot; width="400">
    And Citroens, too!
    <img src="http://cache.jalopnik.com/cars/images/citroen_vans_kit.gif&quot; width="400">

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      Oh. My. God. I want that first one so much!

  7. facelvega Avatar

    I remember riding in one of these that was in service as a taxi in Delhi about ten years ago. A tire blew out, and I remember thinking it was ridiculous for the giant Sikh driver to go through the rigmarole of jacking the car up when he could have just held it up with one hand and taken the little wheel off with the other.

  8. Jim-Bob Avatar

    I love the idea of ANY Kei sized vehicle and would love to own one of these. The fuel economy alone would be worth it. It would take a little getting used to as your expectations of size would have to adjust. (I actually had to go through that when I went from my big 1998 Nissan Frontier pickup to my 1991 Geo Metro a few months back.) However you would soon get used to the size and the fact that you now only use a gallon of gas every 60 miles instead of every 20. When it comes to economic efficiency and ease of parking, smaller really is better. Plus, you should be able to configure such a van to make it capable of carrying decent sized loads too. With the passenger's seat out of my Metro, for example, I was able to bring home 8 foot long pieces of lumber for my raised bed garden along with the peat moss, soil and plants to fill it and was even able to shut the hatch ( I am now planning a roof rack for hauling home plywood and drywall). Small vehicles can be very versatile when you learn to adapt to them. Now if only I could find a cheap Honda Cub…

    1. underboned Avatar

      honda passports (as the cub was called in the US) are usually available in running and serviceable shape out of season for $400-$1000 in many metro areas.
      if you prefer something new there are two cub clones available: the SYM Symba and the FlyScooters Scout. Both have four speed clutchless gearboxes, both do a bit over 50mph, the Scout is 110cc, the Symba 101cc. SYM is switching importers at the moment but there are bikes available at many dealers, usually in the $1800-$2500 range depending on production year. The FlyScooters version is no longer made and FlyScooters is out of business. HOWEVER, there is a company that is still sells the overstock called motonitro. i compared them a bit on my blog http://underboned.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/origin

      1. Jim-Bob Avatar

        The only problem I have with the Symba is that it isn't exactly cheap for what you get. I would have a hard time choosing between it and a Honda Ruckus at that price. What I really want is a complete project bike for around $200 or so that I can rebuild. Sadly, Passports in my area rarely trade at that price level and I can't afford to spend much more than that. I may end up finding a cheap Japanese moped or scooter from the 70's or 80's to play with instead just so that I have something that is very fuel efficient lying around in case gas suddenly spikes to $10 a gallon.

  9. FЯeeMan Avatar

    Hey, that's my car in the back window!

  10. Guillaume Avatar

    They sold that car in France I remember (probably no more than a few dozen of these). The fun part, is that there was a contest to actually give a name to the car (only time I ever though of something like that). The 1st prize was of course the car …
    It was named "Vanille" (Vanilla) a mix of "Van" and "Famille" (Family).
    Amazingly it was upgraded with a 1200cc engine for the european market, giving a top speed of 128 kph (ha!) http://www.autotitre.com/fiche-technique/Subaru/V

  11. Buickboy92 Avatar

    Now that is cool! I want one!

  12. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    I took my Japanese/International driver's licence in a Kei van, and it was terrifying. It was raining, humid, and with 4 large sailors packed like sardines inside the rig, the defroster was overwhelmed and could not keep the windows clear. Add the complete lack of elbow room and driving on the wrong side of the road and I was pretty sure we were all going to die.
    But, we survived, and the trial by fire came in handy when I started driving a taxi in Yokosuka, which is was crazy fun.