EXCLUSIVE: 1997 Daihatsu Midget II

In the unforgettable 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, our heroine, Judy Garland’s Dorothy Gale, receives a rousing welcome to the land of Oz from the diminutive and fancifully dressed Lollipop Guild. Clearly Daihatsu had the hard-working guild in mind when they crafted the Midget II. This 1997 Daihatsu Midget II in Taylors, South Carolina seeks a new owner right here on Barn Finds where $8,000 gives you the privilege of putting it to work in your personal Land of Oz. If my grandma Audrey were alive, she would certainly greet the Midget II with the exclamation she reserved for all tiny adorable creatures:  “Ohhh. Look at its little face.”

The seller treated this tiny mite to a cosmetic and mechanical makeover that included moving the battery from the undercarriage to the confines of the bed-mounted toolbox. Presumably, it’s located on the left side to offset the driver’s weight for, uh, optimum cornering. Be sure to check the bicycle mirror before changing lanes. This Daihatsu comes with the optional “Block of Wood” to deploy as an auxiliary parking brake on especially steep terrain.

Within the monochrome nest of mechanical bits rests (we surmise) a 30 HP three-cylinder, 659cc (40 cid) engine. Just like exotics made by Ferrari and others, the Midget II features a mid-engine design (in this case under the seats) to optimize the vehicle’s center of gravity. The seller reports no problems keeping up with traffic, and the reported 50 MPG puts to shame most trucks on the road today.

Looking much like half of ’90s pickup truck dashboard, the instrument panel and controls fall readily to hand. Notice the passenger’s seat of this right-hand-drive vehicle occupies a narrower band than the driver’s cloth and vinyl throne. Like all real trucks, the Midget II displays some painted metal inside. I have family in Taylors; I wonder if they’ve seen this one-of-a-kind vehicle. How would you put this eager Munchkin to work?

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  1. Weasel

    Ouch! It seems kind of pricey. Can’t these right hand drive utility vehicles be had for around $4,000? I didn’t think these were DOT approved for street use. Do they even have a VIN or title?

    Like 4
    • XJSLord

      It is a 1997, so it can’t be registered through importation per the 25 year rule

      Like 1
      • Weasel

        The ad does say it’s titled so it must be ok but like Howard says, I’d be afraid to. Best used around the farm I suppose. Gators cost $20,000 so there’s that.

        Like 2
    • Mickey Dorsey

      It is titled and tagged and insured in SC. It Does very well on secondary roads up to 60mph., keeps up with traffic, but I don’t drive it on the expressway. I would not buy it for a state with emissions testing or if you have to travel on X ways. Price wise, I have documentation and photos of all the work done over the past five years. Contact me for more details.

      Like 4
    • Mickey Dorsey

      Title…yes. VIN..no. some have asked me for a vehicle report. Impossible without a VIN.

      Like 1
    • Mickey Dorsey

      Careful…don’t confuse the Midget II with the Hijet utility vehicles, which are truly workhorses and can be bought for much less and are plentiful. This was a workhorse in Japan’s narrow streets, but is more of a novelty in the USA where very few have been imported. I bought this almost 5 years ago and have seen only 3 advertised since.

      Like 2
  2. Howard A Member

    Weasel’s right, many states have restrictions on mini cars. Be nuts to drive this in amongst Ram dually’s anyway.

    Like 1
    • Mickey Dorsey

      I drive it all the time in city traffic but do not try to compete with Rams and 18 wheelers doing 80mph.

      Like 3
  3. Mark Evans

    Have seen a few of these in Canada, imported under our 15 year rule. They are raced in Japan. Look for footage. It looks Hilariously fun.

    Like 1
    • Mickey Dorsey

      Google Daihatsu Midgetii. YouTube same. There is footage of real races and a video game of same.

      Like 1
  4. Pete Kaczmarski

    The 25 year import deals with emission issues not DOT safety issues. I would strongly urge a potential buyer to call their state patrol office before purchasing. However the original 1949 to 1969 King Midget built in Akron Ohio can be used on the roadway as they were designed.

    Like 1
  5. Evan

    Fun fact: if you got the floor-mounted stick shift, the passenger seat was eliminated due to lack of room, making this a single-seater.

    Like 2
    • Mickey Dorsey

      That’s why I opted for the automatic. My wife (100) and I (200) can fit snugly. Let’s me take the grandkids for a ride.
      Don’t buy it if you are 6’4″ and weigh 300 lbs.

      Like 1
  6. Mickey Dorsey

    Perfect mini truck to advertise your business, school, or commute cheaply to work. Daihatsu is a Division of Toyota. These are sold and used in asia and very few have been imported to the USA. Google Daihatsu Midget II for more photos. This is not a Chinese knockoff cheap vehicle. It has all SAE requirements like lights, horn, turn signals, flasher, windshield wipers, seat belts, etc. Its a real truck, just tiny, about the size of a Fiat 500.

    Clear SC Title, insured, tagged and taxed as a light pick up. Legal on all roads, but better suited for secondary roads at less than 60mph. 50mpg, 60 mph, gasoline (carburator), 3 cylinder, 659cc, 30 HP, mid engine (under the seat), four wheel drum power brakes, rear wheel drive, automatic transmission, air conditioning, heater, radio (not yet installed). This is an eye catcher and you will not stop anywhere without a small croud gathering around. Right hand drive, but its so narrow that you are basically in the center, but there is a small jump seat for a passenger to the left of the driver.

    I Purchased about 3 years ago from a farm in Arkansas, brought it home and did the following since then:
    New Tires and chrome lug nuts (5), oil change, new fuel pump and filter, removed and cleaned carburator, removed and cleaned fuel tank and sealed, pressure washed and painted some of the underside, new battery, new windshield washer motor, repainted yellow and black exterior, wheels, and coated pickup bed with liner material. Cleaned and painted all rubber parts (bumper, mudflaps, etc). New 3rd stop light added to rear of cab, new carpet and headliner. Custom Midget II Floor Mat and tool box in bed (very rare). I moved the battery from the underside of the bed (very difficult to access) to the tool box on the bed. A great start for someone who wants something unique, affordable, running, needing little work, and I can provide help finishing up the details at a reasonable price.

    Faults: Black door window reveals need painting, small dent on left door (happened the day after I painted it), some body panels need to be buffed, fuel gage does not work, runs well when warmed up, but hard to start when cold (working on choke adjustment). I have a Japanese Manual for a Daihatsu Hijet S83P Truck that is similar. Lots of photos and sketches of parts that were removed, cleaned, painted, and reassembled. Lots of new fasteneers.

    Please don’t ask about trades, low ball offers, help selling, or curiosity visits. Serious inquiries only and payment by cash or check if you are willing to go to the bank with me. No warranty. Call for details.

    Thank you for looking. Mickey. eight six four nine zero five two three seven three.

    Hope this explains the price .

    Like 5
  7. Robert Eddins

    My 2010 Toyota FJ Crusier was built by Dihatsu per contract.
    Dihatsu is I believe the oldest of all Japanese manufacturers. The build quality of the FJ is real good, just wish they.d made
    rearward visibility better. A 10 inch wireless camera has pretty much solved the rear visibility.
    I like this but I.d probably go for a Hi-Jet or such for for bed length.

    Like 1
  8. John Joyce

    Could this thing plow a driveway of snow
    Or would a plow act like an anchor

    Like 1
    • Mickey Dorsey

      Plow would make a great anchor😂

      Like 1
  9. Mickey Dorsey

    No doubt that Hijet is a better choice for serious work. I think the Midget would be great for advertising. Put a sign in the bed and park it outside your business. I bought it to promote the concept of a personal commuter. Consider how much energy could be saved if we did not drive to work alone in a truck or SUV that weighs 5000 pounds and gets 20 mpg.

  10. DrewP

    Either way, lots of work into, but not sure it returns the same.
    Be cool to build an enclosure for the bed and use it for work.
    Might want to clean that motor……

    • Mickey Dorsey

      The picture of the motor is how I found it (barn find). There are lots of photos that show the current state after 5 years of intermittent work. Check the classified to see the photos or I will be happy to send before and after photos to anyone seriously interested. Sorry that the before pictures show up before the current state photos.

  11. chrlsful

    “…Legal on all roads…”
    but not “all states”.

    So sm, not much of a “worker”.

    “…a personal commuter…”
    the 4 wheels R good for that (verses 2 or 3) and most ppl in this country commute 26.1 mi at 1 hr.

    I think I’ll go for the honda pictured above it or the VW below on my commute No offence to the owner & Y the 10 posts & doz paragraphs? Not seen this here B4…

    • Mickey Dorsey

      Not seen this here B4???…if this was a 69 charger with a hemi the tales would go on and on. It’s different. You obviously don’t want it. I wish BF readers like you would realize that everybody is not waiting for your approval. I don’t like Chryslers, so I look and move on to something I do like, without berating the Chrysler fans. You should do the same.

      Like 2

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