Philip’s tastefully tweaked and multiple award-winning Acty might seem like an obscure JDM import, but it’s actually an official UK car
Vehicular addictions can manifest themselves in all sorts of different ways. For Philip Egan, it seems to involve anything tall and unusual. His car history includes entries like the Smart ForTwo, Nissan Cube and Nissan Elgrand, with the most offbeat purchased in early 2016: a 1985 Honda Acty.
“I’d been after a microvan for years since falling in love with Bedford Rascals when I was 12 or 13 in the early 90s,” Philip explains. By going for an Acty, he went one better than the Rascal – it came first, and effectively created a whole new segment.
You might look at this cute but practical pick-up and assume it’s a JDM import, but you’d be wrong. Although it was primarily designed for the Japanese Domestic Market using dinky Kei car dimensions, Honda brought it to other markets, including the UK.
After Philip took the keys to his, modifications swiftly followed, with a clear urge to avoid going down the Kei car drift truck route. “That has been done successfully many times by people across the globe,” he explains, adding, “I wanted to make the truck look as though it left the factory like that with only bodywork changes being obvious to people who know what standard ones look like.”
The first order of business was adding a set of Gaz coilovers at the front and fitting 10-inch Image Billet 19 wheels, giving Philip an attention-grabbing car to display at shows like Retro Rides. It went off the road in 2017 to give his Elgrand a chance to shine, during which time plans were hatched to modify the tiny pick-up further.
The Acty was to get some custom fabrication work, allowing for the fitting of adjustable hydraulic suspension giving a drop of up to 18cm. In 2018 the truck was run in what Philip describes as a “shabby chic style” featuring drink crake wheel tubs and “an 80s period builders van interior”. The look went down well, with the Acty snagging a Judge’s choice award at Fueled Society’s Harewood Hill Climb.
The charmingly scruffy look wasn’t to last, though. In 2019 the Acty was blasted back to the bare metal before getting a full respray (in brown, natch) at DC Customs in Dudley. At the same it it was also treated to rebuilt front wheel tubs to accommodate wider front wheels at the lowest suspension drop, with even more drastic stuff happening at the rear.
“I wanted to enclose the rear suspension and wheels to give a more standard look so the drop sides were spaced out and rear tailgate widened,” Philip recalls. Brand new lower panels were fabricated from sheet metal, while the fuel and oil fillers were given a new home in the load bed to give the outside of the car a visual tidy.
Other exterior modifications include a smoothed Bedford Rascal front bumper, LED front headlights and cute three-inch chrome ‘peep’ mirrors. As for the engine, it’s running a cone filter and a full stainless steel exhaust but is otherwise as standard.
The original two-cylinder, 545cc unit is still in place, “Because life moves pretty fast and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you’re gonna miss it!”
Hard to argue with that.