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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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
Instagram _tobinsta_

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