Ever since they began taking North American and European automobile market by storm during the 1960s and 1970s, Japanese cars changed the game with economical and innovative designs at relatively bargain-worthy pricing. As styling and performance was more attuned to American demands by the 1980s and 1990s, Japanese cars soon became darlings of younger value-seeking buyers and of course, the tuner crowd that erupted to a fever pitch over the past 25-30 years. Despite the tsunami of officially-imported or American-built Japanese models here, JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) cars are a fast-growing subset at the leading edge of today’s diverse car culture. Ranging from hot sports cars to trucks and commercial vehicles, this market segment literally offers something for everyone.
Introduced in October 1967, Toyota’s HiAce light commercial vans and trucks provided immense utility for Japan’s postwar economic miracle and ascendancy into the world’s powerhouse economy during the 1970s and 1980s. Our subject vehicle looks like it could certainly be redeployed as a pre-apocalyptic “prepper” vehicle or with some interior renovations, a nice, small motorhome or RV. It could also be a cool delivery vehicle…or, well, you get the point about these versatile and unusual vehicles. According to the seller, this HIAce Quick Delivery van was imported from Japan, hence the right-hand drive steering configuration. Powered by a Toyota 2.4L diesel engine matched to a 5-speed manual transmission, this HiAce is offered with 87,000 kilometers of seller’s stated use, equivalent to 54,000 miles. Part of the magic is the van’s 4WD drivetrain with locking hubs for great all-weather traction. The interior is equipped with two seats up front and a fold-down passenger seat, plus two large sliding doors and two rear doors with multiple door-stay options A roof rack features integrated straps, a rear roller, and built-in ladder for easy access. The HiAce also includes rear duallies, a towing package, and American-spec radio with twin speakers.
According to the seller, “This van would make a great conversion camper! It’s clean, empty, and ready for a buildout, adding it is “Super fun to drive and really easy to get used to.” We agree wholeheartedly, but we have to say that this nice but well-used HiAce is grossly overpriced. It pains us to say it but say it we will. A quick glance at the amazing Car From Japan site does include many HiAce listings with many model years and models offered at lower prices, including a 1991 HiAce RV with only about 45k miles for around $15k U.S. dollars including shipment to the east coast of North America. It’s not that we don’t dig our subject vehicle; it’s just overpriced. Having said that, it might be worth the premium to someone who would just rather purchase one that has already been shipped and imported stateside. However, knowing what we know, it will be well sold at the asking price, but the fun factor and “blank canvas” nature of this one might just make it an attractive buy for the right person or business enterprise.