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Around the world in a mini truck

Discussion in 'Mini Lounge' started by steve_nagoya, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    Well, we're going to give you a sneak preview of our official announcement for the New Year. Japan Car Exports has entered the Mongol Rally. http://mongolrally.theadventurists.com/

    We will begin the journey from London England and go in the Mongol Rally all the way to Ulan Bataar Mongolia. From there, we're going to continue on to Russia, by boat back to Japan, then from Japan to Vancouver. From Vancouver we are planning of visiting our clients in North America and end our journey either in Nova Scotia or Maine.

    So, it looks like we'll be the first official team to go around the world in a mini truck! Since the Mongol Rally is an official rally that allows vehicles with engines under 1L, we saw it fitting to participate. The Mongol Rally organizers are particular about media attention and sponsorship dollars, so we'll be looking for sponsors for our second leg of the journey only.

    One of the purposes of going around the world is to show how rugged these trucks can be. If the deserts of Mongolia, Steppes of Russia, and Roads of Uzbeckistan can't slow a mini truck down, then the forests and fields of the US and Canada shouldn't either!

    Another purpose is for the sheer adventure. As a company, we want to do something that is truely unique, offers our sponsors a cool thing to participate in and have a team experience.

    We plan on bring global attention to small-engine vehicles. To show that a small engine can conquor most terrains its put in will only enhance the appeal of mini trucks. For Canadians in particular, this is a great chance to prove that mini trucks deserve to be on the road and help promote the lessening of age restrictions imposed on them (currently the Canadian government allows for Japanese imports of 15-years or older). I think they should allow small engine imports of 5 years or older.

    We're going to be looking for sponsors and supporters for the around-the-world trip, tentively named "Around the World in 660cc". Our Mongol Rally team name is "Smaller is Better". We'll be looking for sponsors in the New Year.

    We have good connections with Japanese media and plan on press releases and tv coverage. We'll be issueing statements and promoting the crap out of this trip. All sponsors and paid supporters will be on any printed material we hand out. We can't do this trip without them!

    Since we haven't made the "official" announcement, we haven't put anything on our website yet. We do have a small, and in-the-works, Mongol Rally website at http://mongolrally08.theadventurists.com/660cc
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2007
  2. Wolfman

    Wolfman Member

    Cool plan. I'd love to see you guys push the pundits in the U.S. government to lift their restrictions as well.
  3. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    Ya, some people are for it, so aren't.

    But, I don't want to be political about it. The adventure is for its own sake, and anything else is gravy!
  4. Subaru

    Subaru Member

    Very cool to see an exporter going to the extreme and doing something of this nature.I am looking forward to seeing you cruise through town someday-maybe even entering a parade or two.You get my vote as #1 exporter just for promoting mini trucks and their capabilities.
    By the way,what is going to be your choice of rides?;);)
  5. Wolfman

    Wolfman Member

    I think they oughta do it in style, and use a Sambar S/C. :D
  6. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    Well, we're still not sure. As our team site says, I personally like Suzuki and Subaru. I've driven Subarus here and like them. I was driving one for most of the summer, but sold it.

    What we will be doing is modifying the body. We have to think about how two guys will also be comfortable, and have the capability for sleeping in it or near it. Most of the rally will be out in the open road where there are no hotels. In small towns, we have to be in it so the truck/gear isn't stolen.
  7. Acerguy

    Acerguy Moderator Staff Member

    Wow! That's amazing. I'll be watching!!
  8. unclejemima

    unclejemima Member

    Good for you! Looking forward in hearing more!
  9. Colin

    Colin Member

    Cool! Keep us informed! :D
  10. gbrad

    gbrad Member

    Hi Steven,

    That sounds like a great adventure. I know you've probably already thought of it, but you need a couple of digital movie cameras to document this sojourn.

    I watched Ewen McGregor and one of his buddies do something similar on BMW motorcycles last year. It was broadcast on one of the cable channels in installments and some of the best parts were when they would interact with locals along the way.

    Some good off-road mud and sand wipe outs too. They camped out in small tents most nights.

    This could be great for mini trucks.

  11. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    The "Long Way Around" is also part of the inspiration to the journey. Ewan and Charlie Borman showed us how to do it in a motorcycle (with a support team). We're probably not going to have a support team since we'll carry our own gear.

    Camping will be a big part of the trip, and we're going to modify the truck to accomodate at least a tarp to pull out and cover a certain area. The one worry we have is weather, and we're going to have a solid structure over our gear. it will most likely be lower than the rear window so as not to impeed the rear view.

    We've been throwing around ideas within the team, but its open for suggestions too! If anyone has something to add, PLEASE DO SO!!!
  12. canoebuildah

    canoebuildah Member

    I'd like to offer to host you when you get to Maine. I am one hour northwest of Portland and 45 minutes from Mt Washington, NH. You can get a lot of publicity if you take your minitruck up the http://mtwashingtonautoroad.com/. There are two dealers here in Maine. One about 45 minutes south of Portland and the other is in Northern Maine which would be on your way to Nova Scotia.

    As far as covering your bed, you might consider contacting tonneau cover manufacturers. From what I can tell, most trucks have the same size bed (except Jumbo cabs). See if they will develop a prototype that you can then market to dealers and owners during your trip.

    Here are a few popular brands in the US:

    Access Cover http://www.agricover.com (my favorite)
    Extang http://www.extang.com
    Truxedo http://www.truxedo.com
  13. Youngauto

    Youngauto Member


    Great Idea. Can`t wait to see pics / videos of it.
    Wish I could go on an adventure too.
  14. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    Thanks for that. Let's talk about it in the New Year, but this is what we're going to look for. With our visit to a sponsor, we'd be hoping they can use it as a media event to promote their business. Having us visit with the around-the-world mini truck (and one we can drive there) will be of interest to local media I'm sure.

    Cool, thanks for the ideas. I didn't think about those types. A hard top will be something we're going to think about!
  15. frostback

    frostback Member

    Very cool Steve, I can't wait to see the prepped truck! What about using one of the box van style trucks? Fully lockable hardcanopy and you could build bunks in the back and still have lots of storage. Lots of real estate for sponser decals. ;)

    I think Subaru is better recognized in N/A than Daihatsu and they certainly have more rally heritage.:D

  16. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    Hey Derek,
    Hmm...thanks for the idea about Subaru. It seems like there is more lobbying for Subaru than any other. I do like the fact that if we extend the cabin, we don't have to build over the engine, as would be the case with Daihatsu. And, the rally connection does make sense. We'd most likely install a sort of engine shield to protect it from rocks and debris.

    And, the extra space for sponor decals makes a lot of sense. Something like the box on your truck we got sitting here?
  17. Acerguy

    Acerguy Moderator Staff Member

  18. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    Boy oh boy, lots of support for Subaru! Nice link, thanks. We were even thinking of that sort of van, but it would take away from the idea of kei trucks and end up as a kei vehicle. We're going to go with an original kei truck, and just do the mods.

    Subaru is slowly moving up in our list!
  19. Acerguy

    Acerguy Moderator Staff Member

    Well if you really got to have a truck....

    (there are a couple of Sambar WRC-look-alikes running around Japan) :D

    To be honest though, I don't wonder if the newer, longer wheelbase Suzuki might be a more comfortable ride than the cab forward style like the Subaru or Daihatsu.

    Attached Files:

  20. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    I've actually seen one like this. It may have been the same one, since it looks like this truck is in Mie, which is next to Nagoya.

    I haven't had any issues driving a Subaru and was doing so as a daily driver in the summer. I'm the tallest of the team, so if I fit, the other guys will. They are all under 6foot, whereas I'm 6'2''. We would most likely extend the cab and the seat rails so we can go back farther. This would help when one guy wants to sleep (the passenger of course).
  21. Colin

    Colin Member

    You say "seat rails" - does this imply that some of the Sambars have adjustable seats? Mine are fixed.
  22. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    I had one that with moving seats. We'd at least outfit the rally truck with moveable seats!
  23. jpfanne

    jpfanne Member

    Have you planned a route through the United States yet? Interested to see if you get close to me. I think it would be cool to have some mini truck shows along the way and get the locals to come out and see your truck and have some dealers and owners there to show off theirs.

  24. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    Hi Jeff,
    Well, we'll be traveling to our sponsors/dealers for that very reason of showing the locals an on-road mini truck that travelled around the world. We'll be looking for sponsors in the new year and planning our route accordingly!
  25. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    Over the next week we're going to decide on the truck to use. I've asked several of our dealers and the majority is suggesting Suzuki because of the axle look/diff lock. This feature, above all others, will make or break the rally.

    BUT, any other suggestions and reasons why?
  26. frostback

    frostback Member

    Keep in mind that this is a "crap car" rally and you don't want to show up looking too prepared. I was wondering if you even want 4WD in a rally where most competitors are driving cars. Austin Minis, Skodas, Fiats and Citroen 2CVs are your competition, so I'd be considering a 2WD. I read about a couple from Baltimore who raced a Hijet van last year that was purchased on Ebay. I don't know if it was 2WD or 4WD though.

    The only minitruck that is unavailable with a difflock is the Mitsubishi, so not really a feature unique to Suzuki. Axle lock only locks the front hubs which isn't that big a deal. The Suzuki would be cool but I'd rather be in a Subaru for a journey like that. More room, less noise and better handling are just a few reasons.

  27. BLES

    BLES Member

    My drivers seat is aadjustable. Is that not normal? I really can't imagine too many people moving it anyway. I have it all the way back and I'm only about 5'8" and 155lbs.

  28. geoffreyr66

    geoffreyr66 Member

    That is fantastic! I'll be cheering my support. And I'll be looking for you when you reach Canadian soil. If timing is right perhaps we canucks can convoy with you for a short section in our mini trucks! I'll be paying close attention.
  29. BLES

    BLES Member

    Just like shopping for a mini... all the makes have their unique features that make them desirable. I can't resist, though.... gotta vote for the Sub!!

  30. steve_nagoya

    steve_nagoya Member

    Well, we're getting more support for Subarus than others.

    We do have to make a final decision soon. Which will it be....

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