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[Solved] Subaru Sambar Kei truck with Super Charge... is it worth it? Any experience on highways?


Topic starter

Aloha Scotty,


 Been following your channel for long time and love it. I am in Hawaii and Kei trucks (Japanese mini trucks) are becoming more popular. In Hawaii they are street legal as long as the are 25 years are older. I do farming and sometimes get stuck in the mud. I also have about  50 mile  round trip commute  for work. On the highways where I live in Hawaii the speed limit in only certain areas only rarely tops out at 50 mph. I've been doing a lot of research and I with my need for off road and highway driving that the Suburu Sambar with a 4 cylinder 5 speed Manual 4x4 with a super charger is the best bet for my Kei truck needs.


Do you have any experience with this specific truck? Do you have experience or thoughts on the Kei trucks in general? Do you know they how they handle driving at 50 mph on highway?


Your input is greatly appreciated.


Love the show!!!


@ChuckTobias Knows a lot about these, he even used to own a Sambar!

1 Answer

@dan, I wouldn't say I know a lot about them, especially the newer Sambars, but I'm probably about the only U.S. based person on the board here who has actually owned a Kei van and driven it on the road. That was quite some time ago, it was a 1970 Subaru 360 "Sambar" van that I owned in the 1980s. They were sold here in the U.S. for a short time from about 1968-1970. Due to light weight and tiny engine size they were exempt at that time from safety and emission standards.

The thing is though, that old Subaru van was very different than the Kei vans being sold today or even in the 1997 time period which would be the latest that can be imported. The Subaru 360 van had a 360cc 2-cylinder 2-stroke engine that put out about 20 horsepower. Transmission was 3-speed plus overdrive. It was not really possible to drive at 50 mph, top speed was more like 40-45 mph on level ground. I used it mainly to go to flea markets and junkyards.

I would think a 4-cylinder van of that type with 5-speed transmission would be fine for tooling around on back roads at up to 50 mph - as long as you can accept the safety issues. (Your legs are the crumple zone!) The main problem would probably be parts and service since Subaru Kei vans have not been sold here for over 50 years.