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


Right hand drive Classifieds now available on RightHandDrive.ca!

I'm excited to introduce a new feature available on the site.... classifieds!

I know what you're thinking: "It's been done, and I don't want to post my car again in another place." Well, you're not posting it again. We're doing classifieds a little differently than other sites.

The way you post classifieds here is different: You give us a link to your Craigslist or Kijiji ad. When that ad  goes away (presumably when you sell your car) the ad goes away on this site too. So, with minimal effort, you can get more traffic to your classified ad, and don't have to worry about managing your ad on another site.

How's it work? Well. You give us your link via a simple web form, and it appears on the classifieds page of this site. Users will be able to view your classified ad you posted on Kijiji or Craigslist, with the images and text your put on your ad on Kijiji or Craigslist. When you close your ad, RightHandDrive.ca classifieds will detect you've closed it and it will be removed from this site. Minimal work, lots of gain.

Check it out now at RightHandDrive.ca classifieds!



PEI – Reading the News Brief

I've been re-reading the News Brief and it seems that RHDs are not outright banned.

Once legislation is passed, right-hand-drive vehicles will have to meet Canadian Motor Vehicles Safety Standards in order to be registered. Vehicles that have already been registered in the province can continue to be used.

By the sounds of this, the legislation has not passed (but likely will) and existing RHDs are ok.  By the sounds if it there will not be an all-out ban.

I know that my 1990 Daihatsu Hijet does not have a catalytic converter, so might not pass emissions test.  My friend's 92 Hijet does, and likely would pass.

I don't know how private insurance works, since I live in a province with public insurance.  I'll keep doing some research to find out more about the proposed legislation.


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Right hand drives banned from PEI

Another province has fallen. PEI has banned right hand drive vehicles.

All 30 of them in the province. Here is the release from the Government of PEI.

No word what will happen with the RHDs that have been banned.  Quebec allowed the RHDs that were on the road to stay on the road... I don't know if PEI will follow suit. I'll try to find out.


UPDATE: check out the newer post.

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Thoughts about the Toyota Hilux Surf

Toby's Hilux

In my cruising of the internet, I stumbled upon a Kijiji ad that was surprisingly informative about Hilux Surf detailing what kinds of gotchas they have.  After reading it I immediately requested permission to post it here.

Some details about the Hilux Surf.  The Hilux Surf is the RHD equivalent of the Toyota 4Runner.  The Hilux Surf was offered in a Turbo Diesel 4 Cylinder model.  This model has become very popular as a grey market import due to it's ruggedness, 4 wheel drive and very respectable fuel efficiency.

With no further adieu, here are Toby's very balanced thoughts about the Toyota Hilux Surf.

So what about these vehicles? here's the deal (read: my opinion)

They're absolutely fantastic, I've only ever taken it off road a few times down old logging roads but this truck is part billy goat I'm sure. They are dependable and rugged (not quick though) and will go forever. that being said there are things to watch out for in buying mine of any body else's.

And they are:

Make sure the Head has been done!!! The factory heads have a few issues one being the alloy content and two being the cooling veins are too close to the cylinder heads. It is not a matter of will the head crack but when. The BEST remedy for this is an OEM replacement, there are 3 litre fixes and others but the best best is going with the Toyota replacement hands down. Once the head has been fixed Properly these trucks will last forever!

Toby's Hilux

If it doesn't have an EGT gauge or the equivalent runnnnn!!! This is one of the best ways to monitor engine temp and care for the vehicle while driving. It stands for Exhaust Gauge Temperature and displays the temperature of the exhaust coming form the engine itself. Although the temperatures are bound to be different this is the best indicator that you can keep the hammer down or should gear down and back off a little.

Make sure to have a place to service them!!! I would recommend ATEB (http://www.ateb.ca/index.php) for all RHD diesel needs. They are some of the best mechanics around and have all the parts you need. When it came time to do my head they had one in stock!!! Oil Filter? Yep! There are other shops as well that I hear are great, but this is the only one I have used.

If you're buying a 1989 through 1993 2.4L Hilux make sure it's the 2LT as opposed to the 2LTE the difference is the electronic injection. Although it is not a faulty system by nature it can cost a small fortune to have replaced!! From my knowledge the 1KZ engine found in these trucks from '93 or '94 onward are bullet proof out of the factory but are certainly a little more money.

One last thing, I will never get the money I have put into this truck back in the sale of it. Nor will anyone. If you see some one selling a 2.4L Hilux for more then 10 or 11K they better have lifted it to the moon or have a secret Engine elf inside that makes the exhaust turn into cookies. They simply aren't worth that much as they are. Anywhere up to $9,000 though for a good truck is worth while. I have priced mine where it's at to hopefully encourage a quicker sale (really don't want to insure 2 vehicles longer then I have to) and to reflect the dents on the back and front left side. To fix the damage is about $1000 and then the truck would be just this side of mint...ish.

And finally be aware of any aftermarket change people have made such as lifting the truck (to ride higher) or engine mods (put a larger turbo on) these if not doen properly can cause you much pain in the future and even if done properly MAY raise your insurance a surprising amount.

The Hilux's have the surprising advantage of being identical to the Toyota 4runner that was sold here in Canada. Although the engine and some steering parts are different you can go to an auto wrecker and get an ashtray anytime.

Thanks for reading and good hunting, feel free to call or email and I hope to hear from ya soon!


ps from Rob. If the truck is still available, it's available here.


Right hand drive conversions

ur doin' it wrong

RHD conversion?

It's about time this topic comes up.  I'll state, right off the hop, in general I think this is a large waste of money. There is a case for doing a right hand drive conversion in a few cases

  1. The front of your existing car is 'written off' and you need to redo the whole thing anyway
  2. You really really want a right hand drive and this is the only way to get one
  3. You have too much time and money and you're doing this to stay out of trouble.

But, let's get to the meat of it.

What is it?

It's taking a car that is a left hand drive and turning it into a right hand drive. Hence, conversion.

How is it done?

a front clip

S2000 Front Clip

There are a few ways of doing this. The easy way (and as far as I'm concerned, the right way) and the hard way.

The easy way

Basically, buy the front end of the same car and merge them. The front end, or front clip, usually,  has the engine, dash, steering wheel, suspension, and occasionally even wheels. Basically, it's a the front of a car.  Usually it was a car, and the front was removed, so the motor has mileage on it.  The history of these clips is usually super vague.  Some of the cars could have been rear-ended... some just old and then chopped. If you can get a history, you should.


Civic with Integra front end

So, you have a car dashboard-forward from one car, and your existing car. Now... make one car. That's it. Cut off the front of your existing car and add the front of another. Some people do weird things like put the front of an Acura Integra onto a Honda Civic. Although it's cool and unique it looks like the bastard child of 90s Japanese cars. (Nabbed from Stance is Everything - no offense to the owner.)

At any rate, it's still a lot of work. Check out the video below (credit to Duc) to get a glimpse of how much work it is, and see the parts and tools you'd need.

The hard way

Do it yourself. This could go a thousand different directions, so I can't really get into it.  Some people fab their own dashboard, steering everything... it's kind of crazy.  There's some really neat stuff people do, but it's a lot of hard work.  The difficulty depends on what kind of car you have.  Look under your hood and see where the steering column is, and where you could put one.  There's conversion parts available for various models online, again, check out what there is for your model.

Purchasing a Right Hand Drive that's a Conversion

This question comes up a lot.  The main reason why, is that there is no good answer to this question. Every car that's been converted has it's own story and is done by someone with a different skill level.  Some might be Joe Shmow in his garage, and it could be horrible. Some might be Joe Shmow in his garage and be perfect.  There are some shops that specialize in conversions, even those could be hit or miss.

Overall, if you're interested in one, look it over in detail, especially at the welds. The welds will be by the A pillar and in front of the doors on the chassis. Look under the car, if you don't know what you're looking for, ask the dude that's selling it.

If a job is poorly done, the car will look like it's sagging.  The extra force on the A pillar will put pressure on both the windshield and the top of the car doors.  If the doors 'shut really tight on the bottom', that's a bad thing. If the glass is starting to unexplainably crack in weird places.... that's a really bad thing.

Is it Dangerous?

It sure as hell can be.  Even if the car isn't sagging and is done pretty well, you're driving two cars that have been frankensteined together.  If you get in an accident the welds might not hold up like the factory welds, because they're not as thoroughly tested as a regular car. Conversely, if the person knew what they were doing it could be better, and up to racing standards. Each one of these cars is so unique it's impossible to say.



Why do people buy Right hand drive cars?

There's no one answer to this question. I'll toss out my opinion on the matter and feel free to agree or disagree with me.

1. It was never sold in Canada.  There a bunch of vehicles that fall under this category, and I'd say a large part of the Canadian right hand drive community falls under this category. Kei trucks and Kei cars, Skylines were only RHD until this last batch and other sports cars from Japan were never made in LHD format.  There are a bunch of hot hatches under this category too, like the Nissan Pulsar GTiR... which is really neat.

People who travel will sometimes see these vehicles and fall in love with them, and bring them back. Other see them on TV, movie or the fanstastical internet and fall in love. Whatever the case is, they don't come any other way and people want to have them.

There is also the case that a certain model of the vehicle was never released in Canada.  Canada has the Toyota 4Runner, the RHD equivalent is the Hilux Surf.  But, the Hilux Surf is available in diesel, which is super cool. Personally, I'm scoping out a turbo diesel Hilux Surf because I'd like an SUV, but I don't want crappy gas mileage, so it'd be a good fit for me!

2. Low Mileage. You don't get this with cars in Canada.  We have too much highway.  Vehicles imported from Japan have hilariously low mileage and are in great shape for their age. It's expensive to drive in Japan, and the public transportation is very good, so cars live good lives.  Oh. And no salt on the roads.

Daihatsu Midget II

A Daihatsu Midget II

3.To be different. I don't have to explain this one. Here's a Daihatsu Midget for your viewing pleasure, and my point and case. Image source.

4. Prestige. There are some cars that are available in both right hand drive and left hand drive, but people still want the right hand drive versions.  Cars I've seen like this include MR-2s, Supras, Camrys, RX-7s, 240sx/180sx, and Land Rovers. People in the category can fall partially into 'wanted something different', and that's fine. Even others say that they're 'more legitimate', which is true for both British and Japanese cars if you want to look at it that way.

In the case of late model RX-7s, there's very few around and it can sometimes be easier to find them in RHDs, so you've got prestige and availability. So, why not right? This can even fall under the 'not available here' if you manage to find a 3 rotor, but good luck finding parts for a rotary motor, no less a 3 rotor! The uniqueness has it's ups and downs. Like I've said a thousand times, "Don't be stupid" and "Do your homework", and you'll love your RHD (even more)!



Right hand drive postal vehicles

Canadian RHD Postal Truck

I monitor right hand drive news via google alerts, and an interesting article keeps popping up.  Apparently rural mail carriers don't have RHDs.... I see them all over the city (and they're really really cute, as you can see [source]).  I can say, that only makes sense.  Apparently postal carriers aren't allowed to get out of the vehicle to deliver the mail.... so..... yeah... RHD makes total sense for them.  I know that the states uses RHD Jeeps for rural mail carriers (Postal Pete says so).  I know that a 'postal carrier' is a good loophole to allow any year of RHD vehicle into the states. Now, they just need to justify Skylines and the like as postal vehicles and they're golden!

The reason this piques my attention is that Canadian right hand drivers can use this as an argument if/when Canada tries to take away our cars.  If they state they're 'unsafe' our argument is that if they are unsafe for us, they are unsafe for their employees who use them on a daily basis.  Hopefully we never have to use that, but, we've got to create arguments now in case the day ever comes.




Kei cars coming to North America as Smart Car Killers?

There is the possibility! Clearly they would have to meet safety and North American standards (read: not as RHD), but it'd sure be neat! The car in question is the Mitsubishi i, which is actually bigger than the Smart ForTwo.  I really hope that they leave the engine as is, personally, since I feel that North American cars have more power than most people need!
Check out this Edmunds.com video if you are interested.



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Kei Vehicles

A somewhat new sight on North American roads are Kei class vehicles.  These vehicles come in many forms including trucks, vans and even cute little cars. They are cars that qualify for special insurance rates in Japan, much like scooters have in most provinces.  There are restrictions on the vehicle's height, length, weight, power and engine size.  Due to these restrictions the vehicles, especially the trucks, are quite utilitarian.  It's quite obvious why Japan would encourage the use of these vehicles in Japan.  Their emissions are minimal and they're small. If your country has a dense population like Japan the benefits are huge.

The really great things about these vehicles is the options.  Since they're so limited in so many ways the manufacturers have beefed them up in different ways.  Most of the trucks have options like Four Wheel Drive with diff lock. Some of the trucks have factory dump truck beds (which is ridiculous and amazing to watch) and... AM radios.  I listen to a lot of CBC now.

Kei Cars

Nissan Figaro

The cars are much less utilitarian, and easily the cutest vehicles on the road.  The Nissan Figaro is the prime example of this. It's the first right hand drive car I remember seeing.  It blew my mind in how it didn't look  like any car I'd ever seen in real life.  If Minnie Mouse drove a car in real life, this would be it. And that's not an insult. Honestly, I'm not sure if it's actually a Kei car, since it has a 1L engine, which is larger than the 660cc limit on Kei vehicles, but otherwise it meets the requirements. If it's not it deserves an honorable mention.

Honda Beat

One car that for sure meets the Kei restrictions is the Honda Beat.  A little convertible roadster that shows that a 660cc and 65hp limit doesn't mean it can't be flashy.  I've seen one of these booting around Winnipeg and was quite impressed.  It has the Civic styling with an inline 3 motor.  The engine is mounted behind the driver for a mid engine, rear wheel drive layout. Due to the mid engine mount the car has great weight distribution and fantastic handling. Just because it's a Kei car doesn't mean that it can't be excessively fun.

Kei Trucks

A mini truck

Daihatsu Hijet

This post wouldn't be complete without a photo of a minitruck.  Kei trucks are the workhorse of Japan.  They're small, goofy looking and amazing.  They can haul about as much as a 1/4 ton truck, can convert into a flatbed and many have four wheel drive. I drive mine (which is the photo) year round in Winnipeg.  The four wheel drive handles the Manitoban deep freeze handily.  The problem with the trucks is that they're geared down more than the cars.  I have a 4 speed in my truck and 100km/h is a bit of a chore. The five speeds are more capable of running at highway speeds. The road noise is an issue for some people. The road noise is pretty noticeable due to the (usually) mid mounted engine. It's right behind the driver and there is very little noise dampening material.  Apparently the Subaru Sambar is better than other mini trucks in this regard. It has a rear mounted 4 cylinder as opposed to a mid mounted 3 cylinder.  It apparently can do highway speeds handily and isn't too noisy to boot. Parts are the real issue with the (and all) Subarus.

Kei Vans

Mitsubishi Bravo

Mitsubishi Bravo

The last type of Kei vehicle is the micro van.  This name has always cracked me up since the trucks are called mini trucks but the vans are micro vans being that mini van was taken. These vans are basically the same as the trucks, sharing many components.  They often have four wheel drive with diff lock, just like the trucks. They have much more luxury features like power retracting glass roofs, power windows and nice upholstery  (which is very much lacking in the kei trucks).  I haven't heard if they are slow like the trucks, but I can only assume that they run about the same speeds as the trucks.


Here are the specifications that Kei vehicles must adhere to.

  • Maximum Length: 3.3 m
  • Maximum Width: 1.4 m
  • Maximum Height: 2 m
  • Maximum Engine Size: 660cc
  • Maximum Horsepower: 63 hp

As taken from Wikipedia, so take it as a grain of salt.
Kei cars are fun, different and hilariously fun. Kids point and laugh at my little red truck regularly since it looks like a big toy. And well, it is! And I love it for that. If you're looking for a right hand drive, don't overlook a Kei car as an option. If you're just booting around the city you can't go wrong.

For an incomplete list of Kei cars click here for Kei trucks click here and for Kei vans click here.