The 1996 Isuzu Elf JDM Camper is a bento box for an RV

  • Do you think modern RVs offer too much vehicle and not enough entertainment? Here’s a small JDM wagon for big adventures.
  • With a frugal diesel engine, this little camper will go the distance on a budget, albeit very slowly.
  • This 1996 Isuzu Elf was imported into the United States in July.
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Car and driver

The RV lifestyle has seen a huge boom in the past few years, but it’s safe to say the industry has a big problem. These massive homes on wheels arrive at the campsite, expand their sides hydraulically, and extend like a mobile headquarters from Universal soldier. Is this a return to nature? barely. But here’s a small-scale solution that comes straight from Japan.

1996 Isuzu Elf Personal Camper

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For hikers who don’t feel the need to bring every little thing with them, there’s this 1996 Isuzu Elf camper. It’s absolutely gorgeous, about the size of a Tokyo apartment but neatly packaged and ready for adventure. It’s up for auction on Bring A Trailer – which, like Car and driverpart of the Hurst Motor Company.

1996 Isuzu Elf rear camper

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This small RV is right-hand drive, but that shouldn’t be a major drawback. Toll booths and taxis may require passenger assistance, but JDM vans and vans are very narrow, so reaching the passenger-side window is not out of the question. Another problem with driving on the right in a left-handed country is seeing around the car in front of you to pass safely on a two-lane road. Rest assured you won’t go through anything in this RV, given the 133-hp 3.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine.

1996 Isuzu Elf interior wagon

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Want to get there fast? Pack a tent in the trunk of your Nissan Skyline GT-R. This goblin is all about wandering the back roads like a company of hobbits, taking time to enjoy the scenery. With such a small space, finding a place to sleep wouldn’t be harder than in a car like the Honda CR-V, except that here you have a well-equipped sleeping area and a small kitchen.

1996 Isuzu Elf interior wagon

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Naturally, purchasing a car that is not officially sold in the United States comes with some concerns about parts availability and maintenance. Depending on where you are located, finding a JDM specialist may not be that difficult, especially on the West Coast. If you live in Seattle, Portland, or Northern California, you won’t be the only camper with a JDM wagon. You may also be able to find a local club.

1996 Isuzu Elf Camper Interior Dash

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With only 67,000 miles (kilometre equivalent, naturally) on the durable diesel engine, this RV’s Bento box is just beginning its adventure. Apply the Marie Kondo method to your camping gear, and pack for a much less RV lifestyle.

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Contribution rate

Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and photographer based in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He grew up with a passion for British cars, came of age in the golden age of Japanese compact sports car performance, and began writing about cars and people in 2008. His particular interest is in the intersection between humanity and machines, whether that relates to racing. Walter Cronkite’s career or Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s half-century obsession with the Citro├źn 2CV. He’s taught his two young daughters how to shift a manual transmission and is grateful for the excuse to permanently buy Hot Wheels.

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