Tough L’il Truck: 1998 Daihatsu HiJet 4×4

031316 Barn Finds - 1998 Daihatsu HiJet 1

I know, it’s small; smaller than small, if not even smaller than that. But, if these trucks are tough enough for Texans and Coloradans, they’re tough enough for me. This 1998 Daihatsu HiJet 4×4 mini truck is for sale at Star Truck Enterprises in Paonia, CO. This seller of mini trucks is asking $5,695 for this tough l’il truck, and they’ll even deliver it for free within 150 miles of their shop.

031316 Barn Finds - 1998 Daihatsu HiJet 2

If you haven’t driven one of these mini trucks yet you will never believe how fun and tough they are, not to mention maneuverable and versatile. This eighth generation HiJet – yes, they’ve been around for decades – is in great shape and has 42,800 miles on it. It has a short, 12.5 foot turning radius and this 1,600 pound l’il wonder will make a believer out of you.

031316 Barn Finds - 1998 Daihatsu HiJet 3

They’re only a little over 10′ long so you should be able to squeeze one into your garage. You should also be able to squeeze one down that rugged trail that you’ve been wanting to check out. Not to mention, if you’re deer hunter, here’s your rig. You can probably tell from the photos that the sides of the bed fold down so hauling your snowmobile or dirt bikes should be as easy as 1, 2, 3.

031316 Barn Finds - 1998 Daihatsu HiJet 5

Coincidentally, that’s the number of cylinders that this truck has; exactly 3. The seller says that this is a 660cc model, which would be an EF-series (659cc) 3-cylinder with around 40 hp. I know; but really, they’re fun to drive! Who was it that said that it’s more fun to drive a slow vehicle fast than to drive a fast vehicle slow? This one qualifies for the former. This engine has a new timing belt so you won’t have to worry about that for another few years. You can see the hi-lo selector here, this is where you decide if you want to go the speed limit on 55 mph highways or pull a stump out of your backyard.

031316 Barn Finds - 1998 Daihatsu HiJet 4

Yes, this HiJet is right-hand-drive; it’s like deja vu all over again. Believe it or not you should fit in there, yes even behind the wheel! These are tough trucks and with a 5-speed manual it should be entertaining to drive if you aren’t expecting to smoke all four wheels at every stoplight. Or, at any stoplight. This is a tough little 4×4 that’s made a name for itself for decades in other countries and now they’re available in the US due to the 25-year import rule. This would be a handy, fun vehicle if a person had a farm, ranch, or just wanted something for goofing around with; maybe hauling your vintage motorcycle to shows. I want one one of these 4×4 mini trucks, do you?


  1. MH

    I have always wanted one of these. I have never driven one though. It would be fun to drive to the cabin and then keep driving onto my trails carved out in the woods. It would sure beat having to hook up the trailer and 4 wheeler at the cabin and have to drive back to the land. I’ve also considered a older jeep as I may need more power and ground clearance.

  2. Andrew

    “This is a tough little 4×4 that’s made a name for itself for decades in other countries and now they’re available in the US due to the 25-year import rule”
    2016-1998 is only 18 years.

    • RayT Member

      The trucks offered for sale by the website — including this one — look exceptionally clean and unused for the mileages claimed. I wonder what’s up with that?

  3. RayT Member

    I have seen similar vehicles used at resorts, golf courses and the like for years. Most were Daihatsus, I think.

    One trait they shared: none had license plates, and — so I was told — none could be legally driven on public roads (at least in California). It might be different in other states….

    But I would tread carefully and want a lot of questions answered before taking the plunge for one of these.

  4. Dave Wright

    The military has many of these……..a good one sold last week for 1500.00. They are neither robust or long lasting. There is a local farmer with a yard full of them he uses for parts to support two of them he try’s to use setting irrigation pipes.

  5. Chris in Nashville

    Watch out for tomorrow’s feature on a 2005 Chevy Silverado…

    • MountainMan

      You can always find a different site instead of bashing this one

  6. gord

    the reason for low mileage, “good shape” vehicles is because japan has a “shake” test that EVERY car must pass every X years…. it is simpler and easier to dispose of a vehicle regardless of condition than to pass … and yes it is a LITERAL shaking of the vehicle… not what they were designed for!
    so…. that is why here in canada we have had them for awhile… now INSURANCE is another issue… up here.. because of 16yr old kids being able to buy a viper level car for next to nothing… the insurance companies lump these 40hp vehicles in the same category as the dumb kids… so hard to find insurance at least in ontario .. in quebec they have BANNED rhd vehicles… thank the bit auto companies for doing this as they claimed these rhd cars were cutting into their sales… might be 15-20k rhd TOTAL in canada…. not a year, total… that? cuts into sales… anyway, off my high horse (had a 4wd delica diesel van… it would be considered BIG compared to this one… fun to put your feet up on dash on “left, driver” side and freak people out

    • Rich

      It’s called “shakken”. It’s a very comprehensive examination of the vehicle. Basically, it’s keeps Japan’s economy strong by eliminating older vehicles and encouraging the purchase of newer vehicles there. You can perform a “self shakken” but it involves a ton of paperwork, unless you know someone with a license to do it for you.

    • Murray

      In Japan once a vehicle (or any piece of plant or equipment) is four years old is not longer tax deductible. Neither is any upkeep or repairs on them. This is the main reason there so many low km good used vehicles coming out of Japan. The Shakken test is not the reason as it applicable to all vehicles. Go down to NZ and used ex Japan cars dominate the market there. They don’t have to be Japanese cars either. The NZ dealers are bringing in ex Japan Euro marques as well.

      • mike Member

        I didn’t know that. I will research that.

  7. David Frank David Member

    Once again, a used truck ad. What has this got to do with barn finds? Is this going to become a site about used cars?

    • RayT Member

      David, I’m not interested in many of the entries at BF, but I appreciate the effort and the variety of vehicles (sometimes almost-vehicles, for my taste) and really wouldn’t want the BF crew to change a thing.

      When I start to despair, they come up with something juicy, like yesterday’s BMW 502, and I’m enthusiastic again!

      Besides, if they only featured the cars I’d like, a lot of people would be complaining about “too many weirdo French, Brit and Soviet-era cars.”

      • Howard A Member

        Thanks Ray, same here. This doesn’t do anything for me, but it may for some. The cab over K-Whopper ( and the hydroplane) sure got my attention. Perhaps if we ignore the nay-sayers, eventually they’ll go away. There’s so many cool, knowledgeable people here.

    • maserati

      I wonder my self about that,BARNFINDS !!!!

    • MountainMan

      Because it’s different and interesting. This is a car site… maybe you should make a list of what they’re allowed to post and send it to them that way they can get it right for you.

  8. Vegaman_Dan

    Unfortunately most of these do not pass the US Federal requirement for emissions and safety standards, so they are illegal for use on public highways in most states. There are a few exceptions, but they are rare. The vehicles *are* safe, but old laws and ignorant legislators keep these off the roads. It is slowly changing.

    I would love to have one. I have Cushmans and a GO-4 instead.

    • Packrat

      Have a GO-4 myself as a “one of these days” projects–the motor pool welded the front fork pistons in position rather than fix the seals–would certainly like a KEI truck to tool around in.

  9. Rick

    I live in NW Washington State about a one hour drive from Vancouver BC and have seen several of these in the downtown. Also see numerous of the NIssan, Toyota & Subaru counterpart, and other interesting RHD Jap cars & trucks that typically aren’t or can’t be imported into the US. (Also see LOTS of cool RHD Skylines, but I digress). Anyhow, would not want to take one of these out on the highway or be driving or riding in one of these and get hit by a regular size auto.

  10. Dairymen

    It’s funny those things are being offered in the US with rhd only (because imported from Japan ) but there are lhd versions as well, cause I drove some in Europe.

  11. grant

    These things are great. We used them at a railcar manufacturer in portland oregon for years. They still might. They’re also available in a 6 yes 6 passenger van configuration. Ours were governed to 20 mph but those were easily bypassed, we used to race them up the main street of the plant when it was shut down. This is way too much for it tho.

  12. boxdin

    My state just allowed these for limited street use. I luv em but what the heck would I do w it?

  13. grenade

    I would put in a bigger engine and haul my motocross bike to the track. Awesome! They’re cool because they’re different. That’s a win. I can keep anything running.

  14. Mike

    In Minnesota I don’t believe they can licensed
    as they are not street legal. Too bad because look like a lot of fun?

    • Dan10

      Mike, you are correct. The bright minds in the MN city I lived in bought an entire fleet of these because they were so cheap only to find out they could not be licensed for public road use.

  15. todd

    I actually got one before the EPA put governors on them to keep them from being street legal, it’s a Mitsubishi, with a supercharged 3 cyl engine. yes you read that right It has a supercharger. 50mpg and it will do a burnout!

  16. Paul R

    With aggressive tires they will go just about anywhere an ATV will. Stay dry and have heat and A/C also! Great little farm or hunting trucks. Federals crash standards have kept them from being street legal in most states, but I have seen a few with a license plate on the road in Florida.

  17. grenade

    In Ohio, you can plate pretty much anything. There are also several ways to get something legally plated, if you’re savvy enough. Don’t be scared, buy one!

  18. Skloon

    I have seen them used in Canada for campground maintenance odd to see them on the highway they are so tiny

  19. angliagt

    I saw a few of these in Montana a few years back,
    complete with license plates.

  20. recar

    A friiend who was importing them gave us a couple to try out for a few months:Honda Acty -uber-capable, bug’s ear cute, cramped for 5′ 10, size 11 feet.
    Subaru Sambar [or something like that]:supercharged,4wd, carries its own weight again up a long hill @ 90kph. Both 4wd and lhd [because jdm] They are a bit like garden tractors that you can take on the freeway. I love em but can’t justify owning one. All over in BC [the 15yr rule] on the roads, and also down in Murrica off-road.
    All car-people should drive one once! [I trust that you’ve all driven a go-cart once- I think it’s a requirement for some kind of bragging rights]

  21. gerry Member

    Use them here in Japan daily
    The older Daihatsu’s with the king cab are still going for decent coin here
    You can get a brand new one for about 13K loaded with ABS, Airbags, A/C etc….
    They are more than capable when it comes to keeping up with traffic and get great mileage if you’re over 5’6″ you may want the extended cab version so you can fit better had a 20 year old one 4 yrs ago that could handle 120kph (74mph) highway commuting easily and it wasn’t even the turbo model.

  22. AMCFAN

    About 8 years ago a local shop was importing them. (buying shipping containers full of them) I looked at one and couldn’t believe why someone would purchase a Razor when these trucks are 4X4 with heat and air. Small enough to go anywhere. The catch was they were off road only. I happened to catch a Subaru on ebay that a guy in another US state had somehow got a title for and claimed to be driving it on the road. Good enough for me and paid a premium to own it.

    As I understand it All states in the US operate on a treaty. That in a nutshell is simply respecting other states rules. If a vehicle is titled in one state it is respected and can be titled in all others.

    In my state I had to obtain an out of state inspection. No problem. However afterward I learned the state can at will and revoke titles to vehicles that do not meet highway safety standards. The issue I had was these little trucks have a 16 digit vin and not the standard 17 digit US spec vin. I couldn’t insure it. My state requires insurance.

    Mine would only run about 50 mph on the highway on the way to the out of state inspection. After not being able to insure it sold it. Bottom line do your research if you plan anything other then off roading. These are amazing little trucks. Too bad big brother won’t let us enjoy driving them on the road and getting the 70 mpg!

  23. chad

    10 inch or less wheels @ 70 mph? (& NOT a Cooper S or equivalent?).
    To each his own, I just don’t like the RHD.
    The rest might be better than ‘just alright’ for the right application…

  24. chad

    10 inch or less wheels @ 70 mph? (& NOT a Cooper S or equivalent?).
    To each his own, I just don’t like the RHD.
    The rest might be better than ‘just alright’ for the right application…
    I’d mig some sheets to bring the side boards up as high as the back window.

  25. Leon

    Last I recall a few years back some states like MS would allow to be plated as a Farm Truck where rural roads have lower speed limit and several other states would not allow them to be registered for road use at all If I had money and a ranch I would love one of these over an ATV to cruise the property

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.