A Lunatic Is Building A Small Block V8 Powered 1970 Daihatsu Hijet – This Thing Is Off The Charts Wild!

A Lunatic Is Building A Small Block V8 Powered 1970 Daihatsu Hijet  – This Thing Is Off The Charts Wild!

(By Tony Sestito) – Ok, this thing is nuts.

As I was browsing some of my usual Internet stomping grounds recently, I came across this little trucklet: a 1970 Daihatsu Hijet. These were very diminutive workhorses built for small Japanese cities for hauling goods around, and some made it over here to the USA and probably found homes in cities as well as farms for light labor. These little guys were originally equipped with a 356cc two stroke inline twin mounted in the middle of the chassis, which was probably fine for going over a couple city blocks back in 1970 in leisurely fashion with a couple of parcels in the small bed.

And this is where the “nuts” come in: This little guy will be packing heat in the form of a 400-horse Small Block Chevy when it’s done! Ridiculous!

Ben Graves, the madman behind this build, is taking this truck to another level entirely. Having trouble sourcing suspension bits for the original Hijet chassis that suited his needs, he instead modified a Jeep DJ5 chassis and shortened a Dana 44 to fit the narrow chassis. Since this thing is very short (118 inches total length) and it’s a mid-engine setup, Ben decided to go direct drive with this thing! He modified a Saginaw 3-speed bellhousing to fit between the rear and the engine. Reverse is handled by a modified golf cart starter/generator and a pulley hooked up to the rear. The build is coming along well, and he’s hoping to drive it on its maiden voyage as soon as this weekend.

Ben has more info on the Hijet and a few other equally-as-nuts projects over on his blog: http://www.itsbenmodified.blogspot.com/

You can also see a build thread over at the Grassroots Motorsports Forums:


Check out the pics!


In stock form, these were dependable little workhorses. They sported 10-inch wheels and not a lot of excitement.

Grand Vitara wheels

Ben scored some 15’’ wheels from a Suzuki Grand Vitara on the cheap at a local junkyard. They look huge on the little Hijet compared to the stock 10’s! The tires are 165/45/15’s.

Jeep DJ5 Frame

The frame is a modified Jeep DJ5 frame. It has been narrowed as well as shortened to fit under the truck. And I thought Postal Jeeps were small!

Short transmission

Check this out: This is a modified Saginaw 3-speed bellhousing and case from a Chevy Vega that basically serves as the “meat” between the rear end and the engine. This thing is direct drive. There’s no room for a conventional transmission!

Converted starter reverse

Reverse is handled by a golf cart starter/generator attached to the rear end. An interesting setup.


The inside of the cab’s floor has been modified to accommodate a bigger radiator for the Chevy V8 which sits under the cab, but you really can’t tell by peeping in the window. It just looks like a farm implement in there!


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4 thoughts on “A Lunatic Is Building A Small Block V8 Powered 1970 Daihatsu Hijet – This Thing Is Off The Charts Wild!

    1. Ben

      That was a concern of mine as well, so I got up to speed and faked a clutch failure. I shut off the ignition and had no problem at all bringing it to a stop

  1. Bobby J

    Aw, c’mon, I bet it would brake almost as fast with or without the engine engaged. I’ve driven lots more dangerous junk than this. Whether you could start it clutchless is another matter. And it would be tough to pick up fat chicks with no transmission. Otherwise, why not?

  2. john t

    I was at the all Ford Day here in Adelaide (South Australia) on Sunday, and I walked past the front of a little pick up truck very like this and paid no attention to it…I actually though `what the hell is that doing here?’ It was only later walking down the next row I happened to look at the back of it….very chromed 351 Cleveland nestled up to the back of the cab!! And yes, it was road registered…

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