Micro Machine: The Kei Drift Truck
Wonders Of The Japanese Inaka

It’s always fun to see the lighthearted side of global car culture. And when, at the same time, you can also show what can be achieved at the extreme end of the customising spectrum, well, that leads to one of the most unique feature car – uh, truck – subjects of this year. And it’s hot pink!

Cast your minds back to April this year when I headed out into the Japanese countryside – or inaka – to hunt down a stunning example of a shakotan S30 Fairlady Z owned by Oda-san. As exciting as the hunt for the S30 was, an equally compelling reason to be there was to investigate some rather colourful kei trucks I had seen a few months prior at the Tokyo Auto Salon. If you know the more curious side of Japan’s custom car scene, ‘Hello Special’ might ring a bell. If it doesn’t, then what I’m about to show you will give you a pretty good insight into the extreme work of this custom kei builder.


If you follow my posts from Japan, you know just how diverse car culture is here. If there’s a type of car, there will be a scene for it, and if there isn’t, someone sooner or later will make one. I guess that’s how Hello Special came to be.


Oda-san saw the opportunity, and took it. And by this I mean he went full-out and set up a tuning outfit that deals exclusively in kei trucks.


Kei cars and kei vans (kei referring a light class of vehicles limited in physical size with a maximum engine of 660cc) are very popular as they are cheap to run and don’t require parking permits to show that you have space to keep a car outside, or close to your house. Kei trucks on the other hand have forever been the choice of Japanese farmers – their small footprints making them particularly well suited to be driven down narrow access roads around rice paddies or similar fields  And like anything with four wheels in Japan, they fall into the tuning trap! And that’s when Hello Special comes in.


With this wild Kei, Oda-san set out to show what can be achieved at the extreme end of the customising spectrum, and in the process have some fun – recognizing that most kei truck owner may only want to add a few dress-up goodies to personalise their pocket-sized pick up. To do so he contacted a long-time friend whose shop is a 30-minute drive back towards the center of Kyoto.


It seems like we might be mentioning Miura-san a lot lately, but truth of the matter is, Rocket Bunny has been at the core of the JDM aero world for quite some time. The way he works has cut design and production times to a fraction of what they once used to be, which in turn has made it more economically viable for small shops – like Hello Special – to produce their own lines of original aero, which is exactly what you see here. Oda-san calls this one the Birichino kit.


Along with the one-piece front bumper which sports a series of integrated side vents and a bucktooth lower lip, Miura’s touch for the little Suzuki pick up included a set of Works-inspired fender flares. This was one thing Oda-san really wanted to go for as it would allow for a far more aggressive fitment when it came to the wheels.


To achieve the look he was shooting for Oda-san fitted Hello Special’s very own ’86′original wheels – a modern rim styled to mimic popular designs from the late ’70s and early ’80s. The 14×7-inch wheels have been color-matched to the rest of that retina-piercing pink of the exterior and had skinny 155/55R14 Nankang Sport NS-II tyres stretched over them.

Kei Miura’s Touch

The Miura-designed aero has a deliberate continuity along the side of the truck; side skirts setting the tone with outlined air intakes mimicking the other vents throughout the kit.


You just have to love the side intakes – very Ferrari Testarossa-like!


A tall rear bumper section gives the Carry a rear end you have never seen on the back of a kei truck — all integrated with a diffuser-like grilled outlet at the very bottom.


Ever seen a kei truck with a bed spoiler? Well, now you have!


Oda-san has kept things functional so there’s no crazy amount of negative camber to be seen. The rear end runs a solid rear axle of course, which is why the wheels sit nice and square – albeit sporting just the right amount of poke.


Aside from a Hello Special exhaust tip, which honestly doesn’t really count, the engine remains stock standard. The only real mechanical upgrade is the welded diff, which was made to transform the little farmer’s workhorse into a fully-fledged drift truck! Okay, so ‘fully-fledged’ might be a bit misleading, but when the on-track opportunity allows, drifting is precisely what Oda-san uses his pink pick up for. With literally no weight over the rear axle, narrow tyres and an aggressive enough clutch kick, the Suzuki Carry has no problem getting all crossed up. And with careful use of the throttle (read: pinning it to the floor), it can actually be kept there!


The coolest touch of all has to be the bumper-mounted external oil cooler. How Hakosuka-like of the little Carry!

In Pink We Trust

If you thought Oda-san might have stopped at the exterior with the modifications, you are very wrong. In fact, the most popular parts that Hello Special sells are interior accessories, and literally everything inside the cabin of these little trucks can be swapped out and upgraded. For his drift truck he settled on a few select details.


That includes the soft, quilted pink-camosteering wheel cover, and a silky-smooth carpet panel on the dashboard. What made it interesting to me is how some, if not all of these details, are things you would normally see in the dekotora scene – another Japanese custom automotive sub-genre that Mike briefly investigated last year.


Like the seats below them, the headrests too got the pink camo treatment.


You are looking at one of the most popular Hello Special items available: a heart-shaped tsurikawa train handle strap – something we always see on kaido racers.


Here Oda-san lifts up the passenger seat to reveal the little three-cylinder 660cc KA6 engine that supplies the 50 or so horsepower to the Carry’s rear wheels. Despite what the truck’s exterior dimensions may suggest, the engine’s position actually makes it quite a nice-handling and neutral-steering little machine.


With the cab literally over the front wheels the front suspension turrets are actually in the footwells. That makes it very easy to quickly adjust the settings on the Hello Special adjustable coilovers!


Judging by the condition of those rear Nankangs it’s sure looked like Oda-san had been enjoying the odd skid – but I was reassured that sort of stuff is always done within the safety of a track. 


I begged Oda-san to give me a little drifting demonstration, but there was no way he was going to interrupt the tranquility of the Japanese inaka by throwing his truck sideways and bouncing the engine off the limiter. His neighbours would be far from impressed!


And so my time with one of the most unique feature cars of 2014 came to an end in the middle of the Kyoto countryside – the little Carry’s natural habitat. I left happy to have met one guy that has turned a fun idea into a proper business, catering and building cars that make people happy.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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I'm loving this Suzuki Carry especially with that Hakosuka external oil cooler and that eye piercing pink paint. and I love the work fenders.


Off topic: when will the article on the speedhunters builds ( land on the website?


so basically it's a stock show truck?


seeing kei cars like this remind me of the sense of humor that japanese have. i think what others dont understand is that they have cult followings for many types of vehicles... and this on one example. 

off topic: the color reminds me of the yahshio factory cars... what happened to those guys? are they still around?


Just those deck side panels and it reminds me of these...


Aside from the pink motif, this is an oddly interesting lil truck. 
Love the layout and wheel selection, wouldn't mind seeing these in the states...though we all know it wouldn't happen. 
Awesome article.


RacingPast i seen vids of these things drifting. amazing.


d_rav They were totally amazing, 5 tons of drifting madness. I had the privilege of seeing live races back in the early 90s. Back then they could out sprint a touring car to 100mph!


I'd prefer lime green over this hellokitty pink, but still awesome.
Welded diff is huge fun.


d_rav  : yes they are: http://www.yashiofactory.co.jp/ . they've been working on their second brand (C-ser) for new gen subaru's lately but still releasing parts for the silvia base.. their gulf kit is one of the best looking kits for the S15


'If you thought Oda-san might have stopped at the exterior with the modifications...' Fun question wasn't it? If there's something we've learned about tuned Japanese (mostly from you Dino) : They never stop at the exterior ;) 

Fun little ride though!


Cool car! My lady office mate went crazy upon seeing the heart shaped tsurikawa. Now she wants one for her room. LOL!

Gianluca FairladyZ

Japan ai shiteru! once again :) These guys are crazy!


RacingPast d_rav I've wanted to do a feature on one of the top European race trucks for a while, 1500bhp, 3000 lbs ft, water cooled brakes... One day. Here's a video from the back of the truck I want to feature!



Love it but not in pink.
can"t wait for the race truck article saw race trucks back in the 80"s when they were just road trucks with a cage and the pump turned up.
Later had a good look over one in the local dealers a few years on AWSOME..


Totally bonkers: absolutely brilliant!


Dino I know you featured this truck just for me! haha


Lachys114 Are you referring to the photo we posted on Instagram yesterday with the #rocketbunny and #km4sh tags? That'll be going up in the next couple of days. Stay tuned...


MrSOLOMON85 The only thing that's stock is the motor, and '...when the on-track opportunity allows, drifting is precisely what Oda-san uses his pink pick up for.'


@JDMjunkies_ch d_rav

Yes they have, but Okamura-san himself has been spending quite a time overseas in Asia promoting Yashio, and has a number of Japanese tuner shops over the last year. He still is back quite often though, have seen him pop up at a few events


Speedhunters_Bryn d_rav Wow! That's a brilliant video! Drifting a 11 000lbs (US) Truck lol


I meant to say, "Just remove those top deck-side panels and it looks like those trucks"


Great! More Key Cars please!


Speedhunters_Bryn RacingPast d_rav do it!


So, a 'drift' truck is one that has been painted and had a bunch of comically staged things bolted/ glued on? So, stock motor? Can it actually drift though? Is it able to do anything other than look ridiculous?


Yiipiie... at last a kei. Been waiting for this whole time.


@Kart Works Haha good to know, might investigate on some more cool ones lurking around in Japan :)


Derelict No it's one that is used for drifting. Like this one, which at the same time is a demo car/truck for a company making parts for kei trucks. Pretty straight forward thinking ;)


koko san Yessir!


Taryn Croucher :)


Gianluca FairladyZ lol indeed they are!


kphillips9936 Thank you!


d_rav Speedhunters_Bryn RacingPast Yes Bryn, I agree!  Do it!!


Derelict hmmm, it doesn't sound like you know much of the kei drift truck scene.  Japanese dudes have been sliding these things (and fairly well!) for quite some time in stock/modified form.  

After doing some snooping around, I haven't been able to find any videos of them drifting this truck.  I did find a couple vids of the Hello Special trucks at a track day.



Roughsmoke d_rav Yes they are very much still around. One of the few shops I've never actually been to! Must fix that


Lachys114 Project cars?


MikeYee Derelict I recall seeing guys drift them in a demo run at a D1 Odaiba round 11-12 years ago. Not the newest word in drifting yes, but that's not what I was getting at...I was talking about the mods :)


I never realize that Japanese version of Carry trucks has smaller displacement. In SEA we've got G15A 1.5L I4 version


Up here in Vancouver  we are starting to see alot of KEI vehicles because their are a few local auto import companies who have been bringing over  RHD cars from Japan especially R32s, Silvias, RX7s, and Supras. The 90's import tuning craze is making a comeback!


speedhunters_dino MikeYee Derelict Considering the weight and distribution of those trucks, I say 50hp is plenty to get it slideways. Not always about insane HP.


I don't fit in there! not even if someone cut my legs off :P


Terencey LHD 240sx's are actually commanding more money if they're in good condition, for some reason. Rod should come do a Speedhunters event in Vancouver for us underprivileged enthusiasts ;)


Sick ass little car!


offtopic: I would love to see a feature on donkervoort.


Facotry gearboxes are where it's at.


@Taryn Crouched
oh thanks


Oh thanks!


speedhunters_dino Roughsmoke d_rav well then i recommend you visit: bee*r, blitz, mt haruna, and odaiba (just snap a photo of the rx-71 outside the museum ;)


muhammadilham Anything with a yellow plates indicates the 660cc limit :)


kphillips9936 speedhunters_dino MikeYee Derelict Yes exactly, there is no wait over the rear, plus with a welded diff ....


Slightly off topic Dino, just wondering if you guys will be at Tsukbua this Sunday? Should be a good one!


The oil cooler really makes it for me, pulls the whole thing together! It's all in the details!


LukeEVOVIII Glad you liked it as much as we did!


@Kart Works We keep pushing the envelope in terms of coverage and appreciate hearing what you like so we can bring you more Pure Automotive Enjoyment!


koko san Absolutely - Stay tuned!


Sharing a Fun Desktop I did in Publisher whilst grinding away at work, share and enjoy :) (Speedhunters.com /source)


Here's a couple more, (oh and I added the watermark back in, my bad (they are only on my desktop)) 


Fun looking little truck! I am curious though if it is possible to order or at least browse their website in english and have them ship parts to the EU. A nice coilover set would make working on my suzuki Alto/Hatch MK.I way easier :) Do you know if this is Possible speedhunters_dino Thanks in advance!


Doesn't get more Japanese than this :) Imagine putting a Hayabusa engine in one of those! I'm sure it's been done already but that would be hilarious, wouldn't mind owning one. Can't imagine it would be very fun to crash though, a frontal collision with that thing and you would probably have to amputate both legs :(




Thanks for featuring such a cool little truck! Not sure if all the "Literally" are being used correctly though.


EmmaMacki Figuratively speaking...


this is a two doors, mr-layout drift machine. :)


@worangejuice not bad...hope put anime characters this time XD


Wow lovely feature and amazing photos,
love the pic of the owner with truck and the cute kids walking by to school or something,so cool!!
Love that it's standard just got a welder would love a little truck like this,
Japan has the most inspirational car culture everything is done with flare care and style the seem to show such humility it is documented very well by speedhunters,for this I commend the guys that work at giving us these great features and would love to visit Japan myself one day,keep it coming speedhunters!! We done to the owner


Tbh most trucks in a crash are pretty crushing but I see what you mean :-/ I'd love one aswel lol


djnarity yeaaa. This! At least you see the practicality of the likkle fender flare suggestion.


JcSkyline the alto uses some of the same parts as that van. the suzuki carry


JcSkyline you’d like that Speed Hunters site. pree it


djnarity yea man. I take it een from time to time. Some extreme piece o builds. Some cars weh people overlook, BADDES ting.


JcSkyline and te joke about it is, the article shows that they did no work to the engine, strictly aesthetics


djnarity that maw tell you man. I think that's where I found a turbo Nissan Serena, brought tears :') lool.


JcSkyline dawg i cyaa wait!


djnarity loool. Put har money one side. Lol.


JcSkyline lol. me a try seal it up before mi birthday in 2 weeks


djnarity which is right.


JcSkyline i love the trek but if i dont have to drive it again i won’t complain


djnarity it wahn live inna the garage man.


JcSkyline apparently. as the rack and pinion repair me a tell di ppl dem come look pon it and offer me a money


djnarity lol. No reasonable offer refused.


JcSkyline di yute i bought it from waan buy it back


djnarity make him pree it nuh


JcSkyline yea. as mi seh, once dat repair