Mini-Truck Perfection: Kei Miura’s Pandem Hilux


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

With its tube-frame rear chassis, custom suspension components and 2JZ engine swap, this Pandem Hilux does indeed seem like the perfect custom mini-truck. And it really is.

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A little while ago, I dropped into TRA Kyoto to see Kei 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 Sunny, and the second, Hardcore Tokyo’s Nissan Frontier.

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

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But good things take time. You could distil a batch of whisky and drink the fresh wash straight from a new barrel, but you might expel the stuff pretty quickly. Aged in a barrel for three years in Scotland? People pay good money for that.

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I didn’t know it at the time, but the Hilux was fresh out of the still, and we only made it 200 metres down the road before Miura-san pulled up alongside our camera car and told us to head back to the shop. The wild mini-truck was far from happy.

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There was nothing to be worried about, nothing broken, leaking or out of whack – the Hilux is road-legal, after all. Miura-san muttered something about a fuelling issue and needing a proper tune, and promptly retired to his cozy office.

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Left to my own devices, I walked around the chopped-up utility, feeling simultaneously confused and amused.

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

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A custom front crossmember supports the turbo straight-six. There are also custom front suspension mounts and front brakes from an R32 Skyline, while the rear brakes came from an S14 Silvia. Mismatched wheels – Enkeis and Works – accentuate the contrasting front and rear halves of the truck.

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Moving into the cabin, the large hydraulic handbrake lever offers the promise of big, smoky drifts. Miura-san confirms this intent.

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At the party end of the truck, the exposed tube-frame chassis extension looks so cool. You get a great view of the R32 diff, too.

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

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

Toby Thyer
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tobythyer.co.uk





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