Affordable used Japanese campers
Many Japanese love escaping the city crowds to explore the countryside in recreational vehicles. According to the Japan Recreational Vehicle Association, there are currently about 100,400 RVs in Japan and the used RV market is booming.
At Japan Car Direct, we’ve noticed that more and more people around the world are discovering the appeal of used Japanese RVs and importing them from Japan countries like the US, Canada and the UK.
Used Japanese RVs offer remarkable reliability at low prices. They also squeeze maximum utility into minimum space and maximum power from minimal fuel to deliver a whole lot of pleasure, performance, fuel efficiency and practicality. While smaller than many RVs in the west, they let you travel and relax in home-like comfort without worrying about narrow roads or small parking spaces. Their smaller size also allows them to be shipped at standard freight rates.
There are lots of used Japanese RV models to choose from at used car auctions and used car dealers in Japan. Many of these vehicles are in great condition with moderate mileage even from the 1980s and early 1990s, which means you can legally import them to your home country at low cost — even the United States with its strict 25-year rule.
The following are some great examples of used Japanese RVs that Japan Car Direct recently purchased and exported to lucky RV lovers abroad.
Mitsubishi Delica camper
The Mitsubishi Delica camper is great for sightseeing and camping. It has a sleeping area above the cab, a table with sofas that convert to a bed, another long sofa that extends to create another bed, a shower room with built-in toilet, a practical kitchen with cabinets, a handy stove and refrigerator. You could live pretty comfortably in one of these. Power is provided, on Delica campers, by a 3.0 V6 gasoline or 2.8 turbo-diesel engine, both of which generate more than enough torque and horsepower to take this lightweight vehicle up steep mountain roads. 2WD, 4WD and models with a 2-foot longer wheelbase are available.
1992 Toyota Town Ace camper van
It’s hard to beat the reliability of a Toyota. While slightly smaller than the other RVs in this article, this 1992 Toyota Town Ace camper van offers many of the same great features. You can pop up the rooftop tent to create a more open atmosphere in the daytime, and convert the area to a bed at night that comfortably sleeps one adult or two children. The potent 2.0 liter gasoline engine under the cabin has only 87,000 km on the odometer, and four wheel drive takes you wherever you want to go with confidence. When parts need replacing, you can find them just about anywhere because many parts are shared with the Toyota Hilux.
1994 Isuzu Elf Camp camper
The name Elf Camp makes you wonder just how small this vehicle is, but it’s the same size as most other Japanese campers and carries up to 10 people. The big space-efficient interior features a table and two sofas that fold up to make a bed, sleeping quarters above the cab, plenty of storage cupboards and counter space, a stove, sink, refrigerator, shower and toilet — everything you need to enjoy comfortable journeys and fun camping trips.
And Get Away From It All: Choose the Right Used Camper for You
The campers we’ve got here on this page are just a fraction of what is available now for direct import from Japan. The Isuzu Elf based camper and the Mitsubishi Delica based camper above show you what the bigger units are like and are often referred to as “motor homes.” The Toyota Town Ace Camper Van is an example of the full on van conversion. If you look in at our Japan Car Direct blog here you’ll get a feel for the differences between the motor home and the van conversion.
Clearly the motor home has it all over the van conversion in terms of interior space for seating and storage; but the van wins in terms of drivability: easier to park, less tippy on corners, and lower total external vehicle height. These points can really make a van conversion much easier to live with on the road, but it’s true that the motor home is easier to live in: you’re not always banging your head on the ceiling or stooping over, as is typically the case when you’re moving around inside a camper van.
With the exception of a toilet and larger dining table, the converted camper vans, at least what you can think of as the “full on camper van conversions,” are not far behind your motor homes in conveniences and luxuries. But this is definitely not the case with the more modest camper van conversion jobs, the sort of “budget conversions.” These guys are much more Spartan in terms of conveniences and luxuries. But, and there’s always a “but” in nearly every aspect of motor vehicle design, the budget van conversions tend to give you more storage space and, sometimes, more actual sleeping room as your fold down beds and bunks have more space to expand into with the simple interior of the budget units.
You really have to take your time and think about these differences in what you can expect from each “class” of camper, be it motor home, full on van conversion, or budget van conversion. Know what each of these categories of camper will generally give you, and then think, sit down and really think, and visualize, how you see yourself using the camper that you want to import from Japan. Once you are settled on your needs, you’ll be able to find the right used camper here in Japan that will fit your visions and dreams of “living on wheels.”
Better yet, do what I did once and rent one. Because I did that, I know now that I myself, if I decide to buy a camper here in Japan, would tend to go for the van conversion. I’d rather have the drivability that comes from the more compact external dimensions of the camper van conversion as compared to the motor home body style. And the van types are (a bit) less exposed to cross winds on the highway at speed. Also, in Japan, we have lots of highway service areas with various facilities and, compared to the USA or Australia or Canada (BIG country) we just don’t drive as far on our holidays here, so I’m willing to do without a toilet. If I were buying a used camper here to use back home in Canada, the decision, for me, in favor of the camper van, would not be so easy. A private, clean toilet sure is nice to have in a camper on a long, long trip.
Now, one of the great things about looking in the Japanese used car market (be it at the used car auctions or at the used car dealers, and we source good vehicles from both) for your camper car is that, in Japan, we have a nice little special niche camper: the Kei van (Japanese minivan) based camper. We talk about them over on our blog here and they are really wonderful little jewels! Sure, they don’t give you the luxuries and features of motor homes, but they are super compact, cheap to run and maintain, and just seem to go forever, like the Kei trucks on which they are ultimately based. Depending on interior layout, you can get nice sleeping for two, sufficient storage for food and camp goods, and even an awning mounted on the left or right side of the van body. Pull out that awning, unfold the camp chairs and table, set up the stove, and you are there; you have arrived. Perfect motor camping for the two of you.
And it if rains, just fold and store the gear (let the stove cool down first!), set up the bed, jump in and……..pull out a good book.
Whether you are looking to cruise the coastline or climb mountains, travel with small or large groups there are Japanese campers to fit your needs. And with a little imagination and modification, you can customize them to make them a perfect fit for you. The Japan Car Direct team has personally owned and enjoy a variety of campers. Choose us to find the best one for you.
External links of interest:
Campers at Goo.net
Mathew was super helpful if helping me get more info and bid on cars I was interested in.
Mathew and the gang were great with helping me with the acquisition of my 1994 Subaru Sambar dump kei truck. I was so excited about getting a truck I was ready to buy just about anything. Matt put the breaks on that and used his experience and knowledge to weed out the potential problems. I use my truck almost daily around our farm moving things and as a work surface. It is great. Mathew and Japan Car Direct helped my sister get a kei truck as well and I have and will continue to recommend them to anyone who has expressed interest in my great little vehicle.
I purchased a 1994 4wd Suzuki Carry Kei truck through JCD. Yoshi helped me during the process and after nearly 3 months and over 100 emails back and forth between questions and translations of auction sheets I finally decided on a truck. I've now had it for nearly a month and couldn't be happier with the purchase. They are extremely promt with responses and answered all questions I had. Being completely new at the importing process I never felt uneasy with my decision. If I ever decide to import another vehicle I will definitely use them again.
Excellent service from beginning to end. I registered over the new year holidays and received an automatic out of office response and also still received personal response indicating when auctions resumed. The process takes doing your own due diligence to study the cars you want but the guys at JCD will assist where they can as well.
When I thought about importing a vehicle from Japan, I was a little apprehensive. I read some real horror stories. Once I got in contact with Yoshi, he put me at ease. The entire crew at Japan Car Direct made the process effortless. From translations, to inspections, to the auctions, I felt comfortable with the entire transaction. The hardest thing was waiting for the ship to arrive at port with my new truck. I highly recommend JCD to anyone considering a vehicle import from Japan.
The entire Team at Japan Car Direct has been incredible at making purchasing a vehicle from Japan quick and effortless. Matt and Yoshiro are extremely friendly, and have performed above and beyond my expectations from start to finish. No matter how many questions you may have, these guys will know all the right answers! If you’re looking for a vehicle from Japan then look no further than Japan Car Direct. 10/10 ⭐'s
After ordering my minivan from Mathew and the folks at JCD, I will definetely use them again. Took three months to get the van but I am on the other side of the world. Van arrived in better condition than I expected although battery was dead and gas was extremely low. Other than that, the documents were sent to me promptly and the process of registering was seamless with the supplied documents. Thank you Matt and team and I look forward to working with you in the future!
When starting my path of importing a JDM classic Land Cruiser, I spent weeks doing research before actually committing because I’d never imported anything before. I was fortunate to come across Japan Car Direct, and that’s where I met Mathew. Wow, where do I start with Mathew..... (Just kidding Chicago!) Mathew was fantastic, from spending time on Skype answering all my questions to teaching me everything I needed to know to successfully find the truck of my dreams. Well today in fact I picked up my truck at the port, and it was in even better condition than I could have seen in the pictures and from the reports provided. Guess what, just ordered another one! You are the Master Mathew. Go Hawks!
My Importing experience with Japan Car Direct was unbelievably smooth. What I feared would be a complex process became far simpler than ever imagined. From the very beginning I worked with Mathew, who provided excellent communication. I always felt informed on all costs and the vehicle’s condition. My van has arrived in the US and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you for all the help! I hope to work with JCD again soon.
Had a great experience finding and importing a classic car. Worked with Mathew Matusiak and guided me all throughout the process. Would highly recommend Japan Car Direct.
This was my first experience importing any vehicle. The team at JCD, specifically Mathew, made the process exciting and fun. The information provided from the how to video’s, the explanation of ALL the costs and even helping me choose an import broker that made the experience easy and understandable for this first time customer. Thank you for answering my every question providing guidance through my first purchase. I look forward to buying my next vehicle from you too! Patrick – North Texas
I'm giving Mathew and his crew five stars for excellent service, and for delivering what they promised. I am a first-time importer for a van I will use myself (no resale). Mathew took me through the selection process, helped steer me away from potentially bad deals, and communicated regularly once I had selected my vehicle. He took me through the export process, and recommended Armin at EasyISF to help with the import process. I was able to track my van across the ocean, and Armin helped me work through customs clearance up through the day I picked up my tiny van. Sometimes you have to trust people and this time I picked the correct people to trust; both with my funds being wired to Japan and with trusting that Mathew and his crew had my best interests in mind. I am a very satisfied customer and I strongly recommend Japan Car Direct for your import experience. They delivered exactly what they promised.
This was my first time importing a vehicle for my personal use and naturally I was leary about who to go through. After looking through a few other places and after getting in touch with a longtime customer of theirs I decided to try these guys out. I can say without a doubt I'm glad I did. They are definitely professional and know their craft when it comes to getting you your dream car. Everything from getting cars inspected and bidding was completely transparent and went smoothly. I couldn't be happier with the car I bought and I hope down the line I'll be able to purchase another using these guys!! Thanks for all you guys do!!! 11/7/19 Still have my MR2 and loving it everyday!! I'm going to Japan next month and hopefully I can find something fun for my car to bring back! Just re-read my review and I can still say my car has been nothing but great along with my experience with Yoshi and his team! Thanks again!
You made the purchase and export of my 1998 Rover Mini to Vancouver Canada so easy Thank you and I"ll be back
A few months ago I set out on my goal of importing a vehicle from Japan through an auction. After tons and TONs of research and countless emails, I decided to use Japan Car Direct as my exporter in Japan. From the beginning of my interactions with JCD, I was thoroughly impressed. My contact, Yoshi, was amazing...definitely a huge asset to the JCD team. He answered all of my questions promptly, translated dozens of auction sheets for me, and advised me of what to watch out for when looking for a vehicle. He was beyond helpful! I picked up my Kei truck at the port in Newport News a few weeks ago and couldn't be more pleased. Since then, the truck has made it to its final home in Charlottesville, VA on my farm. Yoshi and the other guys at JCD are now my go to team for more of these soon. Thanks again JCD and keep doing what you guys do! You all are the real deal.
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