Generational Differences

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Which mini trucks can you import from Japan?
Importing used mini trucks from Japan is relatively easy. But each country has different rules on how old the vehicles must be.

Australians can only import first-generation models produced before 1989. Americans can import first and second-generation models. Canadians can import first, second and third-generation models originally sold up to 2001. And lucky British customers can import any models sold up to 2006.

Each generation became larger and more powerful.
Each generation represents the response of carmakers to new Japanese government regulations increasing maximum allowable vehicle size and engine displacement. Most mini trucks closely match these specifications.

Performance, size, weight and refinement generally increased over the years. But maximum load capacity remained the same at 350 kilograms (771.6 pounds). Some people prefer earlier models because they are lighter, simpler and less expensive while still having low mileage in many cases.

 

    • First-generation mini trucks (1976 – 1990)
      Used mini trucks that originally sold between January 1976 and February 1990 can be imported from Japan to the majority of countries around the world. These vehicles are up to 3.2 meters (10.5 feet) long and 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) wide with engines up to 550cc.550cc mini truck engines typically produce around 35 PS, which is more than ample for off-road and city driving because the vehicles are so lightweight and their transmissions are geared low. But power is somewhat lacking at high speeds, especially when traveling uphill.Many models from the mid-to-late 1980s are equipped with a turbocharger or supercharger, for extra power, and options like 4WD and air conditioning.

 

    • Second-generation mini trucks (1990 – 1998)
      Used mini trucks that originally sold between March 1990 and September 1998 can be imported from Japan to most countries except Australia. These vehicles have longer bodies and larger engines than earlier models, with a maximum length of 3.3 meters (10.8 feet) and a maximum displacement of 660cc. The higher 660cc displacement more than compensates for the additional weight of newly required safety equipment and provides noticeably stronger power than first-generation models at high speeds, especially uphill. Regulations limited engine output to 64 PS, perhaps in anticipation of turbo and supercharger advances. But average horsepower for this generation is around 40 PS.

 

    • Third-generation mini trucks (1998 – today)
      Used mini trucks that originally sold from October 1998 onward can be imported to Canada (if sold up to 2001) and the UK (if sold up to 2006). These vehicles are larger, more powerful, safe and comfortable than earlier models and provide more amenities. But they are also heavier and more complex. They are up to 3.4 meters (11.2 feet) long and 1.48 meters (4.8 feet) wide, with much of the additional length used for a required front safety extension. Their engines are the same displacement (660cc) as second-generation engines, but produce more power at around 48 PS.
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  • review rating 5  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

    review rating 5  When starting my path of importing a JDM classic Land Cruiser, I spent weeks doing research before actually committing because I’d never imported anything before. I was fortunate to come across Japan Car Direct, and that’s where I met Mathew. Wow, where do I start with Mathew..... (Just kidding Chicago!) Mathew was fantastic, from spending time on Skype answering all my questions to teaching me everything I needed to know to successfully find the truck of my dreams. Well today in fact I picked up my truck at the port, and it was in even better condition than I could have seen in the pictures and from the reports provided. Guess what, just ordered another one! You are the Master Mathew. Go Hawks!

    thumb Brian Cannon
    1/23/2020

    review rating 5  My Importing experience with Japan Car Direct was unbelievably smooth. What I feared would be a complex process became far simpler than ever imagined. From the very beginning I worked with Mathew, who provided excellent communication. I always felt informed on all costs and the vehicle’s condition. My van has arrived in the US and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you for all the help! I hope to work with JCD again soon.

    thumb Alec Anglum
    1/18/2020
  • review rating 5  Had a great experience finding and importing a classic car. Worked with Mathew Matusiak and guided me all throughout the process. Would highly recommend Japan Car Direct.

    thumb Jagger Wakefield
    1/14/2020

    review rating 5  This was my first experience importing any vehicle. The team at JCD, specifically Mathew, made the process exciting and fun. The information provided from the how to video’s, the explanation of ALL the costs and even helping me choose an import broker that made the experience easy and understandable for this first time customer. Thank you for answering my every question providing guidance through my first purchase. I look forward to buying my next vehicle from you too! Patrick – North Texas

    thumb Poutler
    1/13/2020

    review rating 5  I'm giving Mathew and his crew five stars for excellent service, and for delivering what they promised. I am a first-time importer for a van I will use myself (no resale). Mathew took me through the selection process, helped steer me away from potentially bad deals, and communicated regularly once I had selected my vehicle. He took me through the export process, and recommended Armin at EasyISF to help with the import process. I was able to track my van across the ocean, and Armin helped me work through customs clearance up through the day I picked up my tiny van. Sometimes you have to trust people and this time I picked the correct people to trust; both with my funds being wired to Japan and with trusting that Mathew and his crew had my best interests in mind. I am a very satisfied customer and I strongly recommend Japan Car Direct for your import experience. They delivered exactly what they promised.

    thumb My Name
    12/07/2019
  • review rating 5  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!!! 11/7/19 Still have my MR2 and loving it everyday!! I'm going to Japan next month and hopefully I can find something fun for my car to bring back! Just re-read my review and I can still say my car has been nothing but great along with my experience with Yoshi and his team! Thanks again!

    thumb Kevin Heidari
    11/07/2019

    review rating 5  You made the purchase and export of my 1998 Rover Mini to Vancouver Canada so easy Thank you and I"ll be back

    thumb Scott Brunning
    10/17/2019

    review rating 5  A few months ago I set out on my goal of importing a vehicle from Japan through an auction. After tons and TONs of research and countless emails, I decided to use Japan Car Direct as my exporter in Japan. From the beginning of my interactions with JCD, I was thoroughly impressed. My contact, Yoshi, was amazing...definitely a huge asset to the JCD team. He answered all of my questions promptly, translated dozens of auction sheets for me, and advised me of what to watch out for when looking for a vehicle. He was beyond helpful! I picked up my Kei truck at the port in Newport News a few weeks ago and couldn't be more pleased. Since then, the truck has made it to its final home in Charlottesville, VA on my farm. Yoshi and the other guys at JCD are now my go to team for more of these soon. Thanks again JCD and keep doing what you guys do! You all are the real deal.

    thumb N W
    10/15/2019
  • review rating 5  Since a kid the FD RX7 has always been a dream car but i didn't pursue it till i graduated high school but the prices just for the shell over here in california was over 15k!! I kept looking around until I decided i would just import one. I found JCD while looking for the top 5 importers you could trust and they stood out more than all the other ones, and for a couple months of more research on their page until I ultimately decided I would go through them. Although this was my first time getting a car from Japan and having an endless amount questions spanning a couple hundred emails until it would freeze up and i had to make a new email thread .. Mathew always answered every question and helped me though every step. I didn't have all the funds in the beginning but they were very patient with it until i was fully ready, then after a month of having Matt give his thought on some of the FDs i was looking at we finally won the auction for a 94 Efini type R Fd3s. As we picked it up from Long Beach till the drive home I couldn't believe that it was here and soo much better just looking at the picture but i defiantly would recommend JCD to anyone looking to import their dream car too and and want to thank matt and the whole team with getting me my RX7.

    thumb Erwin Contreras
    10/10/2019

    review rating 5  I'd been looking to buy an RF series Honda Stepwagon to convert into a mini camper for a while but the UK prices always seemed too high. I had joined a few JDM import sites to get an idea of auction prices and costs (including Japan Car Direct) but just couldn't bring myself to take the next step, it seemed such a risk ! Finally after reading so many good reviews for JCD (and Mathew in particular) I took the plunge and contacted Mathew. After he answered my many questions regarding costs, fees etc I felt confident enough to pay the deposit and start hunting the Japanese auctions for my Steppy. My budget for the Steppy was pretty low (pathetic even !) but I felt Mat still put the same effort into replying to my questions and queries as he would have done if my budget had been into the tens of thousands. The result was I now have a very tidy Stepwagon with lower mileage than any vehicle I've ever owned, I've paid far less for it then I would have done buying in the UK and I've got a bigger budget now for the camper conversion. I wouldn't hesitate to buy through them again, and hope to do so soon.

    thumb Matt B
    9/30/2019

    review rating 5  5 star experience from start to finish. Transparent and easy process, and Mat was very patient to answer plenty of questions I had during the purchase! Can’t wait to do it again because the Japanese cars from this era are pure automotive art and these guys hold the keys to the museum!

    thumb Ross C
    9/13/2019
  • review rating 5  After an initial inquiry several years ago, I still wanted to get a Japanese Delica or Hiace. Matthew was immediately in contact and helped with all the details. His videos were perfect for my search. Matthew was able to answer all of my questions and my wife and I were able to make decisions based on the great information he provided. I would recommend Japan Car Direct to anyone interested in getting the right car at the best price.

    thumb Zach Matheson
    8/27/2019

    review rating 5  The staff at Japan Car Direct made what I thought would a a difficult process very easy. Matt explained every step thoroughly and his advice on details of cars was spot on.

    thumb nick creece
    8/20/2019

    review rating 5  I imported a van though JCD and they made the process super straightforward. They were amazing at communicating and quick to answer any of my questions. If you are looking to import a car I would highly recommended them.

    thumb William Bender
    8/02/2019

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