By on January 10, 2010

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Running into this Japanese Domestic Market Toyota Hi-Ace in Eugene was about as unusual as the cold weather that week. It was a frosty December morning after an overnight low in the single digits; pretty uncommon hereabouts. Well, it did have British Columbia plates on it, so that helps explains it. But it’s right hand drive, and a long way from home.

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This is a larger vehicle than the smaller Toyota vans that were sold here in the eighties and have all ended up in Eugene. A separate CC feature on old Japanese vans is overdue.

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I couldn’t get a good shot, but this baby has a full transfer case and stout drivetrain that looks borrowed from an old Hi-Lux 4×4 pickup. If it had a diesel, this would really be something for a globe trotter.

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16 Comments on “Illegal Alien Van Nabbed: JDM Toyota 4×4 HiAce...”

  • avatar

    If the opportunity presented itself, I’d move to Canada just to be able to import not-quite-ancient JDM vehicles.  This is a really cool find.

  • avatar

    There are many more where that came from.  I don’t recall seeing one of these on the road, but I have seen many Mitsubishi Delicas on the streets here.  Several Hiluxes too, and even the occasional diesel Corolla (all RHD).  Sadly, nearly all of the JDM vehicles I see are trucks and vans.  I’m more interested in a Kei car.

  • avatar

    This is one case where I’m not too jealous of JDM; if I was going to get a Toyota camper I wouldn’t want to get anthing other than the US market Toyota dually pickup based campers that were sold in the ’80s and early ’90s. It’s pretty entertaining to see the giant camper bodies that were put on the little Toyota, which for a long time was only available with an I4.

    This is a relatively good example of the crazyness:

  • avatar

    I so want that van!

  • avatar

    I too so want that van, especially after riding in one in Jamaica. 

    Also got a chance to ride in a two wheel drive luxury version with movable sunroofs for all three rows.  It was slammed and riding on low profile rubber.  Very cool!

  • avatar

    It probably does have a diesel. Especially in Western Canada, there’s loads of turbo diesels Hi-Aces and Mitsubishi Delicas floating around, not to mention Land Cruisers of every variety. A fair number of Hiluxes, Mitsubishi Tritons and Nissan Navaras/Datsuns/Pick-Ups as well, and the odd Mitsubishi J-series Jeep (Which are awesome, BTW).
    Since we can import at 15 years, it’s actually usually pretty economical to import from Japan. A 15-year-old Hilux can be shipped to your doorstep for only a few thousand more then a comparable Tacoma or similar, but it’ll have less then 100,000 KM (Sometimes substantially less), a diesel engine and not a single spot of rust.

  • avatar

    I have a Honda Greeter van in the neighbourhood where I work. Looks a lot like this. From a distance they look normal but up close it’s obvious that they’re like 3/5’s of a domestic in size. I betcha they’re great on gas.

  • avatar

    I had one of these Hiace vans when I lived in ireland in the mid nineties. It had a 2.4L I4 diesel and it could take any abuse. A great vehicle you could always rely on. I sold it to move to Canada where I bought a GMC Safari. What a study in contrasts! The Toyota was reliable and almost bullet proof, the GM was the worst POS I ever had the misfortune to own.

  • avatar

    Friend owned an 80s USA version.
    He named it the “Chariot” after the Lost in Space ground vehicle.
    Mid-engined if I remember correctly.
    Strange little thing but it scooted down the road.

  • avatar

    Similar Mitsubishi Delicas abound on Vancouver Island. If it weren’t for the right hand drive, I’d buy one in a minute.

  • avatar

    Awesome find.  obbop if they’re anything like the 80s versions, the engine is right under the front seats, just where the mechanics hated them.

    Paul, I can’t wait for the feature on the one they brought here in ’84.

    This next gen HiAce looks more like the Mitsubishi Vans that I used to see, which arrived after the Toyota Van here in the states I believe.

  • avatar

    Yeah, that version is mid-engined, they switched to front engine in the next version with the wedge-shaped body. Hiace has been the best selling van in Finland for countless of years, and for good reason. They’re much more reliable than their Euro competitors.

  • avatar

    this is what i like about TTAC
    four articles on oddball vans… why? who knows… it’s just the vibe

  • avatar

    The Previa was a mid-engine design with the BIG bulge between the front seats.
    The at-times problematic SADS  (sad shaft) extended forward to allow spinning of front-mounted alternator, A/C compressor, etc.
    The Previa was an expensive but well-built affair that could be bought used cheaply with luck.
    Room to live in it when rear seats removed.
    Repeated cipering proved a regular 30 mpg when driven on the flat freeway at 70 mph.
    Around town was kinda’ dismal.  15 to 20 depending upon season and traffic flow.
    The Previa model commonly referred to as “The Bean” among aficionados.
    There is a Yahoo group with an immense amount of opinions, facts, data and is a wondrous resource for those wanting to maintain their Bean.
    If only every make/model had a resource to assist long-term owners
    Despite not being a huge seller in fly-over country I still see a few around and most appear to be in decent condition.
    Kinda’ akin to the Aztek with those I see conveying a sense of pride of ownership.

  • avatar

    Here in Seattle Previas seem to be everywhere. Seriously, I see several every day. They are cheap enough and common enough I have considered buying one just as a beater/driver. A friend had one when I was in college and I remember it as a very useful and pleasant to drive vehicle.
    The older style toyota vans have all gone south to Eugene however – they were pretty common once but it seems like ages since I have seen one on the road.

  • avatar

    I drove one Hi-ace 2.4 petrol (slightly detuned engine as in egg-shaped Previa) , which served as school bus during my studies in Switzerland. Rigid rear axle, leaf springs, vintage tires, but handle surprisingly well even unladen, on wet tarmac…with modicum of common sense applied by driver, of course!
    On dry, however….with 150kg of baggage, carefully distributed on the floor, that thing was FLYING on the road!:) at 170km/h ( 102mph) it was still accelerating (granted, tacho could have been lying slightly :) ).
    It was great in every way, very reliable. Any car surviving 23 drivers during a 6 months, with just regular maintenance deserves that adjective..
    Fly in the ointment…during 200km round trip it burned through about 35 liters of unleaded! My student budget wished it had had LPG conversion :)

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