RightHandDrive.ca/blog Canadian Right Hand Drive News and Thoughts


Big Right Hand Drive meetup – Winnipeg!

Hey all.

If you're in Winnipeg, near Winnipeg or really motivated to get to Winnipeg.... there's a big Right Hand Drive meetup I'm arranging.

Who: Right hand drivers and their cars (and the usuals who usually go)
What: A big RHD meetup in Winnipeg!
Where: Pony Corral on Grant
When: 8:00 pm, August 1st
Why: There's a ton of RHDs in Winnipeg, get to know the other people who have the same interests

I talked to the owner, and he said two interesting things.

  1. Special Interest Cars only - Well. If a RHD ain't 'special interest' I don't know what is. All our cars are in good shape, so... bring em out!
  2. Headlining! - So, there's always some REALLLY nice cars close to the entrance of the Pony. We CAN get those spots. Your car has to be super shiny and interesting. My minitruck is out. If someone wants to headline, get in touch with me and I'm willing to help you get your car there on time.

The Pony Corral is a 'Come and Go' event. Let's aim to all be there between 8:00 and 8:30. Some people might want to aim to be there at 7 or 7:30 and leave at 8:30, some people might only want to be there at 8 and stay till 10. It's up to you, but it'd be a great photo-op if we all were there between 8 and 8:30.

Tell all your friends. Let's have a HUGE turn-out.

You don't _have_ to RSVP, but toss a comment below if you're coming so we know a rough number.

I've posted this all over the internet... with replies all over the place, check 'em out if you want to!


What would you do?


What would you do?

We know that police officers tend to target right hand drives. Sometimes though, they don't know they just pulled over a right hand drive.... and go to the wrong side of the car.

One day I was thinking about what I would do if I was the cop on the wrong side of the car. I then realized that I have no pride. I'd make a joke saying, "Oh, it's one of those."

Turns out that most police officers have more pride than me though. I've heard from some people that some officers will not only go to the wrong window the first time, but if they go to their car and come back they'll STILL go to the wrong window. My message to these officers: Two wrongs do not make a right.

The police, unfortunately, do have a good case to pull over RHDs. Occasionally officers will pull over RHDs just to check out the car (had the same problem in my '74 Baja Bug), sometimes because the driver is being a moron (if your car has 300+ HP, it's hard not to... it's cool). Those points aside, compliance is a big thing. Even though your car is 15+ years old, it has to meet certain standards to be on the road. Safety checks (or your province's equivalent) will not always catch everything.

I don't want to launch into a big talk about compliance right now. Headlights, tail lights, side markers and seatbelts seem to be the hot-button topics. The Imported Vehicle Owners Association of Canada has a FANTASTIC forum that discusses issues such as this. If you're in doubt about it, and don't want to ask a cop about it... ask there. There is lots and lots of people that really know their stuff there.


Image via http://www.wheels24.co.za/News/General_News/Carrera-GT-killing-M600-ready-20090623

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How do people buy RHDs? Part 2

Here's part 2 detailing how people get their right hand drive cars in Canada. Last week was buying one locally, this week is a little more exciting.... importing!

Importing from Japan

This is a book on it's own. I'm going to try to scratch the surface. There's two major ways of importing your own RHD.  Doing it yourself, or going though an importer.

Using an importer - Going through an importer is generally a good idea.  There are people who specialize in just importing cars, others import whatever people want and things they think there will be a market for.  Some importers import as a side business, or fun, and some importers import for a living.  It's usually cheaper to go though an importer since you can save a bundle on shipping.

Basically, importers are packing a shipping container.  They'll charge you either for the square footage it takes up in the container, or some import the car under their name and do a markup on the car when they 'sell it to you' (even though it's coming for you and only you).  Importers generally know where to buy things, and people to pack the containers to send it out to wherever you are.

There's good and bad stories about using importers.  I'm considering bringing in a new truck, and thinking about going this road.

Doin' it yourself - this can go millions of ways.  Let's frame the problem.  You want a car that's in Japan to get here.  99.999% of people use intermodal shipping containers to do this. So you need a contact in Japan to:

  1. Buy a car (your car)
  2. Get a container
  3. put car in container
  4. ship it

You need to trust this person. A lot. There's a lot of money you're putting into this.

How do we make it affordable?  Put other stuff in the container.  The guy I bought my truck from wanted a Hijet... so he brought in a whole container full, selling the other 9, and basically getting his truck for free.  If you're enterprising, have a bunch of money kicking around and  are a good salesperson this is a great way of getting something cool for cheap.

Don't know anyone in Japan?  Check out Alibaba.com.  It's a connecting site to put buyers in direct contact with manufacturers and salespeople abroad. It's kind of ebay-like in the ratings, which gives a lot of people piece of mind. Buyer beware, of course. Keep repeating to yourself "15 years".  Also don't forget about all the other costs involved. Not everything on Alibaba is a deal. But... you sure can find some (minitrucks for $1000!).

Once it gets here, you need to do the proper import process, detailed on riv.ca - Canadian Registrar of Imported Vehicles.

It's a lot of work, but you can make it worth it if you're smart.

How do most people get their RHDs?

I'd say most people go through an importer directly or indirectly. Let them do the heavy lifting, and you get all the fun.



How do people buy RHDs? Part 1

Although this question seems funny at first glance, it's not as simple as some people think.

There are two obvious ways to get buy a right hand drive vehicle if you're in Canada: Buy local, or import.

Buying an already imported RHD

So, say you're looking at buying a right hand drive and the car is already in Canada.  This could be either privately, or through a forward-thinking dealer. Interestingly enough, as long as the car is safetied (or your province's equivalent).... it's just like buying a used car. If the car has a safety certificate..... you're done!

You might want to be proactive and make sure the car is 15 years old, and not skirting the law in any way (yes, there are ways this is done). Also, make sure you know if you're buying a RHD conversion, or a car that's always been a RHD (JDM spec).

The truck I bought had been registered in Manitoba before I bought it, so it was 'in the system'. I'm not sure what magic is all needed for the first time it is registered... but given it was imported properly and you have the documentation it shouldn't be a hassle (or, more of a hassle than usual). The 'first time insurance' will also vary province to province.

So... if it's here and has been registered in the past, it's just buying another used car. Best place to look?  Kijiji.ca.  Ebay is more miss than hit. Autotrader is also a good option, but kijiji is making it irrelevant.

Hang on for next week for more!


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After one year of Right hand driving

Clifford the Big Red Truck

My Kei

I've had my truck for about a year now. Here's my experiences driving a Daihatsu Hijet in Winnipeg for a year as a daily driver.

I've been lucky, and have had no issues with 'the fuzz'. I often get looks, but my truck isn't exceedingly fast or sporty-looking so they usually just keep on going.

I've gone through one Manitoba winter with my Hijet now. The truck came with 12" rims and tires the truck came with did manage to get me through, but I wanted to upgrade. First issue - 1990-199something Hijets have a 4x110 bolt pattern. A guy who sells tires and rims for a living told me that there is no such thing as 4x110 bolt patterns. Solution - I managed to find 4x110 13" rims from a 86ish Mazda RX-7. Looks pretty cool now. Second issue - except there is a hub on the front axle that the rim wouldn't fit over, so I had to bore out the hub on the rim to get it to fit over. Not especially fun.

Having 4x4 on such a light vehicle was a boon on ice-covered roads. My acceleration was outstanding. I but on 175/80R13s so I have a lot more meat on the tires than before, which has given the truck absurdly good handling.

What about on the highway? Heh. I have the 4 speed model. It can go 100km/h, but it's revving pretty high. If you want to do a lot of highway, you should aim for the 5 speed. I've probably put on about 10-12 hours on the highway.... and it's ok.... but it's not 'good'.

How powerful is the 660cc motor? Surprisingly not bad. The truck weighs nothing, which helps. I put a pallet of sod on the back and it... uh... moved. Which was good. I think the truck doubled in weight and it still was pretty ok. I was quite impressed. The Hijet is truly an truck and can really hold it's own. I saw a F150 pick up approximately the same load with only a little less troubles.

Would I buy another one? Yes. I actually want a Hilux Surf now... but I love my little truck.

Any other issues so far? No? The parking brake light is staying on right now... I just need to tighten a spring and that'll go away. I need to change the oil filter, but just got the part number for that (Mastercraft 17-1747).

Overall, I'm super impressed. I wish they would sell something like this here in Canada new so we're not limited to 'old' vehicles.


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