- this daihatsu midget ii, on sale now on the auction site bring a trailer, was recently imported to the u.s. and comes with a die-cast model of itself.
- the midget was first introduced in 1957 as a three-wheeler. the midget ii was introduced in 1996 and offered until 2001.
- with no reserve, and a current bid at $2996, it’s possible this little truck will go for a little price. bidding ends on wednesday, february 23.
ford maverick and hyundai santa cruz who? you want a small truck, nobody does 'em better than the japanese kei class. and this desirable example of the genre is currently listed on the bring a trailer auction site—which, like car and driver, is part of hearst autos—in an auction ending wednesday, february 23.
originally based around three-wheel motorcycle-based scooters, japan's kei cars and trucks have been around since the 1940s. with small footprints and miniature horsepower, they are useful around loading docks, farms, and factories, but they are also adorable, and street legal, even here in the states. in fact, it was one of our 12 cool cars finally legal for u.s. import in 2021.
this 1996 daihatsu with its googly eyes and big spare-tire proboscis is a recent import to the u.s. i'm pretty much a sucker for any half-size auto, but even for a kei, this thing is a kutie. the super '90s graphics on the spare tire cover, the super '90s teal paint and chrome tubular bumpers and bed bar. it’s like someone looked at a suzuki samurai and said, "sure, it's okay, but does it have to be so large?"
kei-car regulations limit the size of the engines they come with, as well as how much power they can make, so the daihatsu offers a nice even 30 ponies out of a 660-cc inline three-cylinder backed by a manual four-speed. i've driven the honda acty version of these trucks, and you'd be surprised how quickly you can get 1200 pounds moving with 30 horses. there were even racing series that featured the midget ii in all its leaning, barely powered glory. if you buy this one, you only need one more to start your own racing series. or line it up against the kids on their bikes and see if they can outrun you.
the midget ii is a single-seater, which means you won't have to share its air-conditioned gray cloth interior with anyone. if you have friends, they can ride in the back, as the truck lords intended. all jokes aside, kei trucks make awesome runabouts near vacation houses or beach rentals, or just to pop out to the store for one forgotten ingredient. they are legal to register and drive on the street, and while i might not attempt los angeles freeways with one—although, on second thought, you could probably lane split; they aren’t even five feet wide—they’d be great for a busy city. you could park in all those tiny spaces left by people who don't pull up far enough.
this midget ii looks to be in good shape, although it’s wearing mismatched tires on its 10-inch chrome wheels. along with air conditioning, you get a pioneer stereo, original sales literature, a tomy model of a daihatsu midget ii, and an alternate soft spare tire cover that says, "midget ii, the car that was so popular in the 1960s." it probably sounded better in japanese. a casual look at other midget ii ads leads me to believe that they go for between $4000 and $7000, so with a week to go and three bids so far, this little guy could still be a big bargain.