The History of the Honda Acty Truck

The Honda Acty was designed to be an economical, durable, and sturdy work vehicle for the Japanese domestic market (JDM). Mainly used for various purposes such as transportation of goods, farming, fishing, construction, etc, the Honda Acty is as good as any other Kei-trucks out there.

The Honda Acty’s primary competitors were the Subaru Sambar, Suzuki Carry/Every, Daihatsu Hijet, Mazda Scrum, Nissan NT100/NV100 Clipper, and the Mitsubishi Minicab.

Finding the right Kei truck model to import is quite hard, so this article contains the evolution of the Honda Acty throughout the years starting from its first model release in 1977 to its final in 2021. Hopefully, this makes your journey to figuring out the right model to import from Japan easier.

T360 1963 – 1967 (Early model: AK250,  Late model: BK250)

The T360 Kei truck was first exhibited at the 1962 Tokyo Motor Show alongside the S360 and S500 sports cars when Honda, a motorcycle manufacturer at the time, was looking to get into the 4-wheeled vehicle market.

Honda had plans to develop an engine specifically for trucks but the announcement of a new regulation from the government stipulating that there will not be any new automakers from henceforth caused the company to rush onto the market with the water-cooled 4-cycle in-line 4-cylinder DOHC4 carburetor. It drew attention to it as the “sporty mini-truck”

The body shape was a semi-cab style, with the engine under the seat (known as midship) similar to the first generation Suzuki Carry Truck. The interior had a column shift, a bench seat, and the parking brake was on the right side. The specs of the engine were also far superior at the time. The T360 managed to squeeze out an impressive 30ps reaching 100 km/h when typical Kei cars at the time only produced around 18-20ps.

Later, due to manufacturing cost and maintenance issues, the carburetor was changed from a 4-barrel type to a 2-barrel type, and then to a more common single type. These were known as the BK250 type.

The T360 was considered a failure and after several iterations of vehicles later (TN360, inspired by the N360 mini passenger car, 1968’s M-Type, 1969’s Deluxe, 1970’s TNIII, 1972’s TN-V, and 1975’s renamed to TN-7) the first generation of Acty truck and the van was born. 

Honda Acty Truck – First Generation: Acty Truck and Acty Van/Acty Street

In 1976, when the Kei vehicle standard became 550cc, the TN truck underwent a full model change to become the TN Acty.

The basic structure remained the same, but the EH-type 2-cylinder 550cc engine, which is a 1100cc motorcycle 4-cylinder engine cut in half, is installed, with the body being slightly larger. Some grades of trucks are equipped with side skirts as standard.

  • In 1979, Activan was released with a wagon-style grade Acty Street, later debuting in 1981. A high roof was also added to the Acty van/Acty Street.

  • In 1980  – Cationic electrodeposition coating was used for all variants and the design of the front grille and the seats were changed.

  • 1983 – the 4WD model was added.
    The 4WD was a bold method of mounting the engine and the transmission vertically, installing the 4WD clutch where the differential gear was, and reattaching the front and rear differentials.
    It garnered a lot of attention as a mid-engined 4WD vehicle, which was rare at the time. Additionally, 12-inch wheels and front disc brakes (only for 4WD vehicles) were standard equipment for the first time in the Kei truck and Kei van class.

  • 1984 – The automatic version also got a 4WD option.

  • 1985 – The front bumper is bigger with an air conditioning set as an option. All 2WD vehicles were also equipped with front disc brakes as standard.

Second Generation Acty

As with the first generation, the same tail lamps were shared across the Kei Acty, Acty van, and Acty street. The engine had been changed from EH type engine to an inline 3-cylinder E05A-type engine.
The 4WD models (HA2, HA4 after the 1990 facelift) were no longer available with an automatic transmission. The 4WD had also changed from part-time 4WD to real-time 4WD.

The “Acty Attack” version, targeted at farmers, came with real-time 4WD and had a dedicated 4-speed manual transmission with ultra-low (UL) and ultra-low reverse (UR) and a rear differential lock as standard equipment.

The other models of STD, SDX, SDX2, and TOWN had slight variations with the TOWN and SDX2 adding a color-coded (white) bumper and side mirrors along with a tachometer.
As a unique grade, the van has a PRO-T grade with a tandem two-seater.

Additional changes:

  • March 1990 – Along with the change of Kei vehicle standards, the overall length was extended (100 mm for vans, 60 mm for trucks) and the displacement (660cc), and the engine output was improved to 38 PS. The Acty truck’s headlamps were changed from the standard two-round headlamps to the same odd shape as the Acty Street.

  • The models were “HA3” for 2WD trucks, “HA4” for 4WD trucks, “HH3” for 2WD vans, and “HH4” for 4WD vans.

  • August 1991 – A Kei truck-only grade “Town” with enhanced equipment was added. The “SDX-II” was removed, with the “SDX” receiving a 5MT upgrade.

  • January 1994 – Minor changes included an electronic radio tuner. A new “Acty crawler (HA5)” based on Acty Attack equipped with rubber crawlers (threads)  instead of the rear wheels was introduced.

  • October 1994 – Minor improvement had the refrigerant of the air conditioner changed to an alternative CFC type.

  • January 1996 – Power steering is added to the van, and the front turn signal lenses are changed from amber to clear. 1996 also saw the new release of Honda Acty Van’s “SDX-Hi” (2WD, 5-speed MT only) equipped with 44 PS PGM-FI.

3rd Generation Acty Truck

May 28, 1999 – Honda announced a full model change as a result of the revision to the Kei vehicle standard in 1998.

The style was changed significantly from its predecessor, inheriting the underfloor MR, but with a semi-cab over type. However, with the large bonnet, the truck had a shorter cargo bed compared to its rivals, along with an increased turning radius due to the widening of the wheelbase. Additionally, the price was higher compared to its competitors, and the battery was installed in the hood making it inconvenient for maintenance and replacement. The front seats could not be slid when the rear seats were retracted as well.

All engines were converted to PGM-FI and improved from 38 PS to 46 PS.
The model is “HA6” for 2WD trucks, “HA7” for 4WD trucks, “HH5” for 2WD vans, and “HH6” for 4WD vans.

  • December 2000 – The dimensions of the bumper, front grille, and cabin were reduced. The changes were made to allocate that amount to the cargo bed’s length making the interior of the truck even narrower. Along with this, all 5MT vehicles, regardless of whether they are vans or trucks, were required to be equipped with a clutch start system as standard equipment.

  • February 2001 – Acty van automatic with 4WD was revived. This model shared the same drivetrain design as the Vamos turbo model alongside the Civic’s 4AT transmission. The output was 52 PS. The “Street” name was later discontinued in favor of the Honda Vamos.

  • September 2001 – All grades are equipped with an air conditioner as standard, and the 4WD AT Kei’s engine was upgraded to the current 660cc 12-valve inline-three E07Z and the output was increased to 53 PS.

  • April 2003 – Both vans and trucks were ultra-low emissions (U-LEV). The door mirrors and door handles of the truck “TOWN” are colored. All grades of vans came equipped with SRS airbags for the driver’s and passenger’s seats as standard, and the “TOWN” grade of vans was discontinued

  • December 2005 – Minor improvement.

  • February 2007 – Keyless entry became available as an option on the Acty’s SDX van, and an air conditioner was made standard on the TOWN truck.

  • December  2009 – Acty truck underwent a full model change following the end of production of the 3rd generation. The Acty van continued to be produced.

  • August 26, 2010 – The keyless entry system and an AM/FM tuner were made standard equipment, and the passenger seat had been changed to a seat with a slide and reclinable mechanism. The grading system was revised, and the grades were “PRO-A” and “SDX”.

  • June 2012- The SDX now came standard with privacy glass (rear door/rear quarter/tailgate) with high heat absorption/UV cut.

  • March 2015 – Fuel efficiency has been improved, and all models have achieved the 2015 fuel efficiency standards.

  • April 2018 – Marked the end of production of the 3rd generation van due to a new regulation law requiring the strengthening of collision safety standards for Kei-car standards.

  • July 2018 – The successor model was the N-VAN.

4th Generation Acty Truck

The wheelbase had been shortened by 520 mm compared and combined with the increased turning angle of the front tires, the minimum turning radius has been reduced to improve maneuverability. The cabin space was increased by moving the front pillars forward with the front wheelhouse being moved under the seat to increase the legroom.
The fuel efficiency had been improved by reworking each part and reducing the weight of the vehicle. The drive system was the same as the previous generation, with AT vehicles not having a 4WD version.
The model is “HA8” for 2WD and “HA9” for 4WD.

  • January 21, 2010 – Specially equipped vehicles: Dump lifter and fresh delivery series (freezer /cold storage/ dry) were released.

  • December 2010 – In addition to improving operability when opening and closing the battery cover, ABS with EBD became available as an option for the “SDX” and “TOWN”.

  • June 2012 – In line with the new safety standards for lighting equipment that came into effect in January 2013, long mudguards were newly installed on the left and right rear fenders, and rear reflectors were added to the lower part of the fenders.

  • March 2015 –  JC08 mode fuel efficiency has been improved, and all types have achieved the 2015 fuel efficiency standards. The “TOWN” had an IR cut (heat shield) / Front window glass with UV cut function, IR cut (heat shielding)/super UV cut front door glass, half-shaded front window glass, anti-glare rearview mirror, and two speakers as standard on the SDX and ATTACK.

  • January 2018 – ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution was made standard equipment for all grades.

  • November 8, 2018 – Special grade “TOWN Spirit Color Style” was announced. Which was released commemorating the 55th anniversary of the birth of the T360.

April 2021 – End of production and sales.

Acty ended its history of 43 years as Honda withdrew from the light truck market due to new emissions regulations and mandatory crash mitigation brakes that must be installed sequentially, thus increasing development costs.

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