(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!