Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now

Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now

Image for article titled Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now
Photo: carfromjapan.com

The Japanese car auction system has become my new Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. In between getting my pants handed to me in kei van auctions and waiting for the auction list to refresh, I see what other interesting cars I could import from Japan. If you want something special, Japan has a lot of weird vehicles that you can import right now.

Over the past weeks I’ve talked about cars like the Honda Beat and the Honda Acty van. However, Japan has so many more wild cars that are eligible for importation into the States. So I want to shine a spotlight on some cool cars that you may not know about.

This list will include average prices and will only include cars that you can find online right now. I’m excluding vehicles we’ve covered a lot or that already have a huge American following.

Advertisement

2 / 11

Daihatsu Mira Walk-Through Van

Daihatsu Mira Walk-Through Van

Image for article titled Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now
Photo: JU Gifu

The Daihatsu Mira is an adorable kei van that looks like a distant relative of the new USPS mail truck. Like all kei vans, it’s not going anywhere too quickly, especially with the aerodynamics of a box, but its utility is unrivaled. You enter the front and rear of the van through doors you simply step through. It’s perfect for deliveries or hauling small vehicles like motorcycles or even an ATV.

These can be had for around $3,000 in auctions, so it’s a cheap way to get into an imported Japanese car.

Advertisement

3 / 11

Mitsuoka Viewt

Mitsuoka Viewt

Image for article titled Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now
Photo: JU Hiroshima

Under the Mitsuoka Viewt’s striking sheetmetal is a second-generation Nissan Micra. In true Mitsuoka fashion, the Micra was given an external overhaul. The result looks like a vintage Jaguar and dare I say, better than the original Micra. The interior was left alone in the conversion, save for the option to upgrade to wood grain and leather seats.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these aren’t that expensive. They can sometimes be had for less than $1,000 at auction, and they’re very cheap at exporter websites, too.

Advertisement

4 / 11

Mitsubishi Pajero Junior

Mitsubishi Pajero Junior

Image for article titled Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now
Photo: JU Aichi

Mitsubishi used to serve up three flavors of its famed Pajero SUV. If the regular Pajero was too big, you could step all the way down to the Pajero Mini. If the Mini was too slow, you could move a step up to this, the Pajero Junior.

The Junior was the Mini, but scaled up a little and given more power. That said, the gains aren’t too large. The engine makes only about 79 horsepower, and on a good day your top speed is 85 mph. Still, it’s a mini 4x4 SUV that can do highway speed. What’s not to love?

Even the price is great, as these will often go for around $1,500 at auction.

Advertisement

5 / 11

Suzuki Mighty Boy

Suzuki Mighty Boy

Image for article titled Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now
Photo: JU Aichi

There are small trucks and then there is the Suzuki Mighty Boy. The Mighty Boy is a Suzuki Cervo hatchback with the rear end removed and replaced with a tiny bed. This adorable little kei-class pickup isn’t going to take your boat to the lake or do a hardware store run, but it’s one of the cutest pickup trucks you’ll ever find. It makes a Subaru Brat look absolutely huge.

Despite its hilariously awesome name, the Mighty Boy isn’t all that mighty. Its 543cc three-cylinder engine produces only 28 horsepower and you’ll be able to hit highway speed, but that’s all.

These are getting rare, and they sell for around $3,000 at auction.

Advertisement

6 / 11

Honda Vamos

Honda Vamos

Image for article titled Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now
Photo: carfromjapan.com

The modern day Honda Vamos is just another kei van, but this original is something special. As our friends at the Lane Motor Museum note, the Vamos was one of many vehicles of the day to be stripped down to the bare bones and marketed to outdoorsy types.

The engine is a tiny mid-mounted 354cc two-cylinder, so the Vamos tops out at about 35 mph. You’ll definitely want to avoid roads that require any real speed. What it lacks in performance, it makes up for in topless fun. You don’t get any doors but you do get a sweet canvas roof.

A Vamos hardly ever comes up for sale. I found just one for sale, and it would cost roughly $20,100 after shipping to the U.S.

Advertisement

7 / 11

Toyota Crown Wagon

Toyota Crown Wagon

Image for article titled Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now
Photo: USS Shizuoka

Enthusiasts know and love the understated luxury that you get in a Toyota Crown. But you don’t have to settle for a sedan. You can get your low key luxury on in the Toyota Crown Wagon, too. These wagons often come with a 2.5-liter 1JZ engine but sometimes show up with the naturally aspirated version of the 2JZ engine that Toyota fans crave.

High-mileage (for Japan) Crown wagons sell for about $2,000 at auction with lower-mileage examples selling for around $4,000. Those all have the 1JZ engine. Sadly, I could not find price data on any with the 2JZ.

Advertisement

8 / 11

Nissan Civilian

Nissan Civilian

Image for article titled Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now
Photo: ARAI Oyama VT

Here’s a bus-based RV that you’ll never see anywhere in America. The Nissan Civilian usually serves as a transit bus, but sometimes you’ll see them decked out as personal RVs. If you’re looking to go camping in a bus that nobody else has, this is it. This Civilian comes equipped with a 4.2-liter diesel engine, manual transmission and a sweet burgundy paint job.

Best of all is the average auction price. Civilian buses with far less than 100,000 miles sell at auction for around $5,000. Unfortunately, you could expect a shipping charge of about $5,000 for something of this size. That’s not too bad considering that a completed high-quality bus build often sells for $20,000 or more in the U.S.

Advertisement

9 / 11

Daihatsu Midget II

Daihatsu Midget II

Image for article titled Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now
Photo: USS Osaka

Only 51 inches wide, the Daihatsu Midget can slice through tiny gaps in city traffic almost as easily as a motorcycle. These little trucks seat only a single person and were used in Japan as delivery vehicles. They may not have a whole lot of utility here in America, but look at the thing! Since the truck is so small and light, top speed of a Midget II is in the low 70 mph range.

These run about $2,000 at auction and $4,000 through an export site.

Advertisement

10 / 11

Nissan S-Cargo

Nissan S-Cargo

Image for article titled Here Are Some Of The Weirdest Cars You Should Import From Japan Right Now
Photo: JU Chiba

The Nissan S-Cargo is one of the special vehicles to emerge from Nissan’s Pike factory. The Pike factory was famous for churning out hip cars with vintage style like the Figaro and Pao.

The S-Cargo looks like a more modern interpretation of the Citroën 2CV delivery van. It comes with a 1.5-liter four cylinder engine bolted to a three-speed automatic. It’s faster than many cars on this list, but not exactly something you’d think as a highway warrior.

Expect to pay about $4,000 at auctions and slightly more from an exporter.


These all came from bored overnight searches of Japan’s auction system while waiting for the supply of kei vans to be updated. I’d really love to have that Nissan Civilian bus.

The most surprising thing to me is just how cheap some vehicles are when you go through the auction system. If you’ve been on the fence about car importation, give it a go!

Are there any truly unique or weird cars that I missed?

Advertisement

11 / 11

DISCUSSION