The 2021 Tokyo Auto Salon has been canceled due to the recent COVID-19 spike, but carmakers will be showing their builds in an upcoming virtual event. Ahead of that, Daihatsu has revealed its lineup of five kei jidosha, including a wonderful little camper inspired by the second generation Hijet.
Daihatsu created the camper to mark the 60th anniversary of the Hijet, as denoted by a small sticker in the side window. The original debuted in November 1960, but it was the 1964 second-generation Hijet that originated the cab-over design has exemplified the Hijet for the last half-century-plus.
As the name implies, the Daihatsu Hijet Jumbo Camper Ver. uses a modern Hijet Jumbo as its base. However, the entire face has been transformed to resemble the second-gen, with LED headlights replacing the sealed beams and thin LED “eyebrows” replacing the orange lenses of old. The center grille, used to ventilate the cabin, is now represented in a light signature with the Daihatsu logo. Even the wheels have been shaped to mimic the second-gen’s hubcaps.
To serve its camper van duties, it’s fitted with a safari rack and bed canopy with what seems to be a canvas window cover. It might not be the most functional overlander, but it sure is cute.
A completely different take on the kei truck is the Daihatsu Hijet Jumbo Sporza Ver., which takes the same base and turns it into a track-ready speedster. After chopping off the roof, the cab receives a speedster-esque half-windshield and headrest fairings. The bed has been modified to give a unibody look to match the aggressive front kit and side-dump exhaust.
A paint job in national racing colors and Volk Racing TE37s finish off the circuit-runner look. The racing number 60 is a nod to the Hijet’s 60th anniversary. Proving that Daihatsu has a good sense of humor, though, is the kanji on the door that says, Laguna Fruits and Vegetables.” The “fruits and vegetables” part is pronounced seika in Japanese, so it’s a clever reference to Laguna Seca Raceway and the fact that stock Hijets are most commonly seen on farms in Japan’s countryside.
For motoring enthusiasts, there’s the Daihatsu Copen Spyder Ver. It, too, loses its roof in favor of a speedster wind deflector and headrest nacelles. Based on the Copen Cero, which was introduced to bring the second-gen closer to the retro look of first-gen Copen, it gets its sporty style from a sleeker front fascia, a good suspension drop, and the obligatory TE37s. It’s unlikely there’s any performance mods to speak of and probably runs the stock Copen’s 63-horespower transverse three. Subtracting the convertible roof mechanisms might shave some mass off its 1,875 curb weight though.
The Daihatsu Taft Crossfield Ver. takes the Taft kei car, built to appeal to outdoorsy types, and toughens it up with overlanding gear. There’s a safari rack, light bar, winch, recovery points, and a brush guard. Like with the Copen, it’s unlikely there’s any performance upgrades due to Japan’s kei car horsepower restrictions. While the modern Taft is essentially a crossover, we’d love to see this treatment done on a first-generation Taft.
Finally, there’s a the Daihatsu Thor Premium Ver. D-Sport. Basically, it’s a Thor with all the modern tuner accoutrements, like large, flush-fitment wheels, an aggressive aero kit, rear spoiler, and a vaguely VIP look. Incidentally, the katakana spelling of Thor and “tall” are the same, and Daihatsu likely wanted to emphasize the spacious interior headroom of its box-on-wheels. As far as modified kei cars go, though, this Thor looks pretty cool and is probably the type of thing we’d point at if we saw it cruise by in Tokyo.
These cars and more will be revealed in the virtual Auto Salon, scheduled for January 15 at 9:00 am.