We Drove One Of The Smallest Fire Trucks In The World and It Ruled

This is a Daihatsu Hijet. You find these trucks and vans working all over the world, but ones like this from the ‘90s are just starting to come to the U.S. This one came over as a “low speed vehicle” limited to just about 25 miles an hour. But more importantly, this one is an actual fire truck.

(Welcome to Car vs. America: The Lost Tapes. We used to have a TV show on Fusion, but while our show was good, our corporate overlords decided to do something else with the network entirely. We managed to obtain all of the raw footage from the show, however, and there was tons of good stuff in there that never made it in. So we decided to put it all together for y’all to enjoy.)


Daihatsu has been making the Hijet since 1960, and it has always been super small, because it’s a “kei” car. Laid out first in the 1940s, kei-class vehicles are required by the Japanese government to be extra small (only so long, only so wide, with an engine only so big) so that they would be affordable to buy and simple to use. Keijidosha is just Japanese for “light vehicle.” It’d be easy to call kei cars, historically, a relic from when Japan was rebuilding after World War II. But they remain useful in Japan on its narrow city streets.

Over the years, manufacturers have made kei hatchbacks, kei vans, kei sports cars, and in this case, a friggin’ kei fire truck.


This is the whole charm of kei cars. Everything a normal car can do, they can do smaller, even down to putting in work as a firetruck.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.


Tim the KNinja

<intense salivation>