Do you think modern RVs provide too much Vehicle and not enough Recreation? Here's a tiny JDM camper for big adventures.
With a thrifty diesel engine, this little camper will go the distance on a budget, albeit very, very slowly.
This 1996 Isuzu Elf was imported to the United States in July.
The RV lifestyle experienced a huge boom in the past few years, but the industry arguably has a bloat problem. These massive homes on wheels rumble up to the campsite, expand their sides hydraulically, and sprawl out like the mobile headquarters from Universal Soldier. This is back to nature? Hardly. But here's a pint-sized solution straight from Japan.
For wanderers who don't feel the need to bring every dang thing along with them, there's this 1996 Isuzu Elf camper. It's absolutely adorable, sized like a Tokyo apartment but carefully packaged and ready for adventure. It's up for auction on Bring A Trailer—which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos.
This wee RV is right-hand-drive, but that shouldn't be too much of a drawback. Toll booths and drive-thrus may require the help of your passenger, but small JDM trucks and vans are very narrow, so reaching out the passenger-side window isn't out of the question. The other problem with right-hand drive in a left-hand-drive country is seeing around the car in front of you to safely make a pass on a two-lane road. Rest assured that you will not be passing anything in this RV, given its 133-hp 3.1-liter four-cylinder diesel.
Want to get there quickly? Pack a tent in the trunk of your Nissan Skyline GT-R. This Elf is all about wandering the backroads like a company of Hobbits, taking the time to actually enjoy the scenery. With such a small, it should be no harder to find an overnight spot than it would be in something like a Honda CR-V, except here you have a nicely outfitted sleeping area and a small kitchen.
Of course, buying a vehicle that was never officially sold in the U.S. comes with some concerns about parts availability and servicing. Depending on where you're located, finding a JDM specialist may not actually be that tricky, especially on the West Coast. If you live in Seattle, Portland, or Northern California, you will not be the only peripatetic soul with a JDM camper. You might even be able to find a local club.
With just 67,000 miles (in kilometer equivalent, naturally) on its durable diesel engine, this bento box of an RV has just barely started its adventure. Apply the Marie Kondo method to your camping gear, and get packing for a less-is-more RV lifestyle.
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