Mini-Trucks: A Supporting Argument

Sure, you have to drive from the passenger's side, but how is that not an ideal option for a light truck?

In honour of yesterday’s question about mini-trucks (I know, I couldn’t get this article published in time yesterday), I think it’s only fair that I submit a little bit of research I’ve been doing on my own in the last little while. I submit, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that there is indeed a market for mini-trucks, considering just how mini these trucks are. If people want these things badly enough to import them from Japan, a mini pickup — produced in limited volumes — should not be a failing proposition.

Available in any colour you like… so long as it's white.

I’m not sure how common these little beasts are in the US, due to their arcane import restrictions and nannying safety and emissions regulations, but up here in the land of the free, kei cars are everywhere. The most popular of late have been these little pickups and vans; after years of never seeing them at all, I’m now seeing all conceivable variations showing up in the most unlikely of places. Well… come to think of it, anywhere in Alberta is pretty much the “most unlikely of places” for these things. This is the land of the Rig Rocket — a lifted three-quarter or one-ton pickup spewing as large a cloud of black unrefined diesel as allowable by the four-inch exhausts hanging menacingly under the rear bumper. To say that these are a breath of fresh air would be horribly cliche, but also completely true.
The point that I think so many people miss about these little critters, and the one that is so crucial to get across, is just how functional these little things are. They’re not powerful, they’re not luxurious. They are not going to serve the same purpose as a 500 lb-ft diesel dually. But then again, these can be parked anywhere.
The vast majority of people who have a truck really need it, what, once a month at the absolute most. Some only need it once or twice a year. The rest of the time, all it does is suck up gasoline and prevent you from occupying prime parking spaces. These little suckers will fit happily wherever you like, and can easily run virtually any task you need them to do. Sure, if you need to haul a pair of quads, or an octet of snowmobiles, this is not going to be the ideal choice. But if you need a truck for all those runs to the greenhouse, or because you need to get your riding lawnmower over to your mom’s house to do her lawn because she won’t move into a nursing home, or to carry all those trinkets home from Pier One, or for hauling those weekend auto parts back and forth to your project car without getting the inside of the wife’s Mustang dirty… this really is an ideal option. If you honestly think you need anything bigger than this, it’s just because you feel you have to compensate for something.
Enjoy the gallery of kei trucks I’ve found in the last few weeks, and the enormous amount of effort I put in to getting them to you using nothing more than an iPhone!

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20 responses to “Mini-Trucks: A Supporting Argument”

  1. Alff Avatar

    Once upon a time, I would have made some wisecrack about such a cute, Canadian Dollar sized truck. Not anymore.

  2. Froggmann_ Avatar

    We have them in the states too, but they are usually only found on US military bases and large industrial complexes. Here is a rig loaded with them I saw on the 5/55 interchange in California last year:
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  3. engineerd Avatar

    I've often thought these would be an excellent parts runner. Sure, a Ranger or Caminochero would do the same job just as well…and carry more parts home from the salvage yard, but these are even more unique than a Caminochero.

  4. Target29 Avatar

    Saw a ton of these on the Wet Coast, I mean West Coast last week around Victoria, BC.

  5. soo΄pәr-bādd75 Avatar

    I don't know about those little buggers so much, that might be taking "mini truck" too far. I live in an area where drunks driving the wrong way on the highway has seemingly become an epidemic (and not just at night, either), and poor driving in general tends to be the norm. I would not feel safe in one of those at all. There isn't even the slightest bit of crush space anywhere on one of those toy trucks. A Ranger is just fine, and in 4cyl/5M trim they get pretty damn good fuel mileage as well.

    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      No different than a motorcycle, really.

  6. Slow Joe Crow Avatar
    Slow Joe Crow

    Used ones do pop up, I think they need to be pre 1998 (airbag regs) to be road legal in the more relaxed states, or off road only. The 4×4 dump bodies seemed especially popular. Cushman (natch) sells Chinese kei trucks new for off road use and some body was selling Daihatsus for industrial use as well.

  7. ptmeyer84 Avatar

    Well if you need something that small, Kawasaki may have something for you.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      Not street legal, but I like the way you're thinking.

  8. muthalovin Avatar

    How about an Italian? Apecar anyone?
    <img src=""&gt;
    I only know of these because Rossi raced his friends as a youth in Italy in these things.

  9. kvhnik Avatar

    OK guys…I actually know something about these. Go to and lookie-loo around (I'm one of the mods). They are actually street legal in a few US states but the situation is fairly tenuous. 1999 and newer are fuel injected and slightly bigger.

  10. CptSevere Avatar

    I like the little Suzuki 4WD flatbed. It's just what I'd like to haul hay for the cows and jackasses, and to negotiate the narrow trails around the mine where I work. I'd use the little sweetie every day, and here in Arizona, I think it could be licensed as a motorcycle, the same way that golf carts are licensed, so it could conceivably be driven on the street. Something like this would come in handy.

  11. Maymar Avatar

    I want, nay, need, an S-Cargo. Or, as a part-time school board courier, I'd love to see something smaller than a 3/4 ton Express van (although, sometimes I'd settle for a RHD Express if that meant I didn't have to walk around the thing to unload). Of course, without some seriously versatile shelving, a Kei van's too small (no room for 50 schools worth of mail, a fixed projector, and the first season of Telefrancais on VHS),

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      Holy shit, Telefrançais. I had totally forgotten about that until this very moment.

  12. tristan Avatar

    there is a nissan s-cargo over here in NZ with a VH41 – sleeper style

    1. Brett Avatar

      [youtube K-yIvNCY_WY youtube]

  13. Jim-Bob Avatar

    I want….no… NEED one of these things for pizza delivery! Small, fuel efficient, tight turning circle, and the ability to handle a large order all in an inexpensive package. BTW, I don’t think the S-Cargo is a Kei van. it is small, but it is based on the Micra chassis and uses an engine of larger than 660cc’s, thus making it ineligible to be called a kei.

  14. smoke_banshee Avatar

    Yes, yes, yes!
    I understand that a Kei should never find itself on a 70mph interstate; i don't want to drive a Kei truck on a 70mph interstate. But since i don't have those, it's a moot point.
    I've read that people have had some success registering them as kit cars…don't know if you need to take it apart and reassemble it to get that registration. And you can make a sand rail or a dune buggy road legal in most places. So i don't get it.
    And Kei trucks are cheap. There's a dealership in Michigan that has a truck with ~3 miles listed at >$14,000. Six grand can get you one with ~30,000 on the odometer. And by all accounts they'll run for next to forever.
    I'm partial to the Subie because they put a little four cylinder in there instead of the 3 that many of them have, though i've read that independent suspension trucks are a little harder to lift a little (we get enough snow that a little lift would be handy for me).

  15. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    They seem to be plentiful and cheap here in Kansas, I see adds for them in the trader papers for them at $6,000 USD for a 4×4 with dumper. For that money it beats a Mule for sure.

  16. trafik ceza sorgulama Avatar

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