Minitruckin’ The Old School Way

No matter what automotive subculture you can think of, chances are there’s a group of people in Japan that are absolutely obsessed with it. Over the years we’ve been able to uncover many of these, but one area that we haven’t looked at much is minitrucks. While pickup trucks aren’t especially common on the streets of Japan (most people use vans as utility vehicles), the people that do own them are crazy about them. I discovered this during my visit to Nagoya, where I met a few members of a minitruck club called Outer Limits.

Toyota-Hilux-2-2 copy

There was one truck among the group that caught my eye especially – a 1981 Toyota, which is known to many around the world as the Hilux. This particular truck is a left-hand drive model from the US – the place where many of the custom minitrucks in Japan originate from.

Toyota-Hilux-7 copy

What I like about this truck is the way it’s bagged and body dropped for a ridiculously low stance, but still retains so much of that cool early ’80s flavor. If you grew up in the USA during the ’80s or ’90s I can almost guarantee that you knew someone who had a truck like this.

Toyota-Hilux-3-2 copy

Great care has been taken to preserve the style of its era, right down to the beige body color with tri-color graphics.

Toyota-Hilux-3 copy

With the exception of an aftermarket steering wheel, the cab of the truck is equally old school with a dash cover and one of those bench seat covers that everyone used to have in the ’80s.

Toyota-Hilux-4 copy

Gotta love the 85mph speedometer too!

Toyota-Hilux-5 copy

While many pickups that are this heavily modified would have an exposed chassis in the rear, this Toyota not only has a full bed, but a bedliner as well.

Toyota-Hilux-2 copy

Under the hood sits one of Toyota’s bulletproof 2.4L 22Rs – the engine that helped to give these trucks a reputation for incredible reliability.

Toyota-Hilux copy

This particular example has been upgraded with a pair of sidedraft Solex carbs for some extra horsepower and a cool sound when the truck is cruising down the expressway.

Toyota-Hilux-4-2 copy

While I’ve always appreciated the work that goes into custom minitrucks, a lot of them are a bit too ‘showy’ for my tastes. This Toyota though is just right. It’s got the perfect combination of modern customization with lots of retro flavor.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike



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Very cool, I'd love to see it on some detailed steelies. Just a cool, clean cruiser :)


@Scotty yeah, look better with steelies


killer truck!


muhammadilham you are right, the truck is slick, but the wheels are not quite right.


Loving the 22R!




needs whitewalls and old muscle car steering wheel.


Good stuff Mike! I love this truck!


Awesome and clean build, spray in bedliner?


Great subdle mod raising the entire bed floor and inner fenders.  Looks soo much better than the exposed diff and still remains versatile!


These are cool little trucks and honestly this is a really nice one. The 22r is such a great engine.  I had a '94 and the thing ran on three cylinders for years before giving up the ghost.  These trucks are just neat.


kphillips9936  yeah well just said bedliner, didn't it.  Lol.


donkyyyyyy They just won't die!


BjEnglish Agree completely.


donkyyyyyy kphillips9936 More than likely. I forgot to ask when I was there.


demzo_BRG Thank you!


Emptypie That would be cool.


ra64freddy! I give a thumbs up to anything with Solex :)


theAught muhammadilham Maybe some old school slotted mags?


KeithCharvonia Thanks bud!


Mike Garrett theAught muhammadilham , Im a wire rim guy on these little trucks. give me 100 spokes any day


Like this very much...except mine would have 14's.
Great post Mike.


Mike Garrett donkyyyyyy kphillips9936 I was wondering if it were a drop-in style, custom cut or a spray in is all.


Woah… mini trucks aren't usually my thing, but I love this!


If only these were four lugs, I'd throw some black TRD Toscos* on it with some white walls. Would look so damn good. The steering wheel needs to go though.
*If you could find some.


My 83 Toyota Hilux


@mikegarrett thanks for this mini truck feature. I hope theres more in the future. Being from socal and seeing and riding these trucks as a kid they hold a special place. With all the passing of mags nowadays its nice to see them still get featured. Nice article also.


Mike Garrett donkyyyyyy  That's the honest truth.  I drove it to the beach over 400 miles on three cylinders.  Went out on the sand and had a blast.  Drove it home and drove it to work like that for years.  Stupid fun 4Runner I


lucky brew  See I dig the wheels on this one because they are a throw back.  Too cool.


lucky brew Love the tailgate...and the rims, and OG mini trucks in general.


Thanks Fellas. I'm on FB as Lucky Brew if you want more pics.


Thanks. 200 hours in the tailgate alone.


JockThatCamel That would look rad if such a thing existed.


jzx81 Thanks!