Mini truck perfection: Kei Miura’s Pandem Hilux

Barrel-aged whisky, dusty old bottles of wine from the cellar, a Toyota Hilux built in TRA Kyoto. All good things take some time before they can be appreciated perfect.

With its tubular frame rear chassis, custom suspension components and 2JZ engine swap, this Pandem Hilux indeed seems like the perfect custom mini truck. And that is it.

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A while ago I went to TRA Kyoto to see it In Miura and shoot the third build in a trio of new Pandem x Hardcore Tokyo x J.Beat Custom mini trucks. The first was the J. Beat Datsun Sunnyand the second, The hardcore Nissan Frontier of Tokyo.

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Naturally, I wanted to include Miura-san’s creation for some tracking shots and the obligatory shots conbini photo outside 7-Eleven. I was eager to see this beast in the wild and on the streets of Kyoto.

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But good things take time. You could distill a batch of whiskey and drink the fresh wax straight from a new barrel, but the stuff could be expelled quite quickly. Matured in a barrel in Scotland for three years? People pay good money for that.

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I didn’t know it at the time, but the Hilux was fresh from the quiet area and we only drove 200 meters before Miura-san pulled up next to our camera car and told us to go back to the shop. The wild mini truck was far from happy.

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There was nothing to worry about, nothing broken, leaking or out of control – the Hilux is street legal, after all. Miura-san mumbled something about a fuel problem and the need for a good tune, and promptly retreated to his cozy office.

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Left to my own devices, I walked through the chopped up utility, feeling confused and amused at the same time.

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Businessly, a 2JZ-GE (the naturally aspirated variant) now calls this Hilux its home. However, as you can see, it has been heavily modified with a Garrett G35 turbocharger and all the associated hardware to provide plenty of kick.

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A custom crossmember at the front supports the six-cylinder turbo engine. There are also custom front suspension mounts and front brakes from an R32 Skyline, while the rear brakes come from an S14 Silvia. Mismatched wheels – Enkeis and Works – accentuate the truck’s contrasting front and rear halves.

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As you enter the cabin, the large hydraulic handbrake lever offers the promise of big, smoky drifts. Miura-san confirms this intention.

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On the party side of the truck, the exposed tubular chassis extension looks so cool. You also get a great view of the R32 diff.

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Back at the office, Miura-san showed me his design process for the Hilux, which was created using CAD. What I saw reminded me of a gigantic Meccano set.

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Now that these three mini trucks are completed, what’s next for Kyoto’s customs king? We’ll just have to wait and see, although I’m sure the next Pandem creation isn’t far away…

Toby Thayer
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tobythyer.co.uk

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