There’s something fun about the idea of a tiny little van, shorter than most compact cars, that’s able to transport six people. Nobody said anything about comfort, but who doesn’t like a Fiat Multipla or its immediate successors? Sadly, the same people who drop six figures on a German bus with too many windows have caught wind of those, so you’ll have to do the usual and be a bit creative about other options. With the rolling 25-year EPA and DOT exemptions, combined with their sale in this continent as off-road maintenance vehicles for large commercial properties, quite a few of the Japanese 550cc Kei vans are slipping into North America. That said, if you don’t like the power in such a tiny van, and don’t have the means to get a hot-rod Kei engine out of one of the sportier variants, what choice do you have but to find a wrecked Goldwing and scavenge its 1800cc flat six, as seen in this 1989 Daihatsu Hijet with Goldwing power for sale for $4000 in Port Saint Lucie, FL?
Hopefully that’s a wrap advertising the seller’s business. The wheels need to be smaller with more sidewall, but at the price it’s hard to complain. If the van has spent lots of time out in the Florida sun advertising iPhone repairs, you can bet lots of the interior and exterior trim will be suffering. All that said, the body looks straight, trim is complete, and even better, it’s left hand drive for your drive-thru shopping convenience.
The seller posted a video of himself driving the car late last year, and in the description he says he’s been daily driving it with no problems other than a rather clunky shift action. It’s said to have gone from 35hp to 125hp – with nearly triple the horsepower, you’ll definitely want to ask whether there were any brake and suspension modifications to keep nearly four times the power under control. Where else can you find a car with quadrupled horsepower for this price?
Here’s a shot of the engine installation – check out the professional grade tree stump at work by the front wheel. The seller claims to have spent $6500 and that it was done right, but doesn’t give much detail about what body modifications were made to accommodate the powertrain. The donor bike’s transmission was also used, so the car has an electric reverse. It’s rear-wheel drive, so the rear axle is a Dana 44 with 3.73 gears – hopefully the torque of a small six still allows for decent acceleration here.
There’s the engine before installation. He seems to have used the instrument cluster from the donor bike, so you’ll have no problem knowing what’s going on under the, uh, front seats. The engine looks pretty clean, and it seems to run and drive well as you can see below. Who wants to see if a custom plate “FLATSIX” is available in their state to take this to Porsche and Subaru events?