Van life is a hot topic right now, whether it’s the result of a global pandemic or a midlife crisis. Within the booming industry lies a niche of enthusiasts importing Japanese camper vans as their glamping vehicles of choice. In his latest video, Derek Weldon of PacificCoastAuto takes a look at the Isuzu Elf, an excellent candidate for a JDM camping companion.
The example in the video is a rear-wheel-drive model fitted with a four-cylinder 4.3-liter diesel engine. Weldon says that the powerplant is actually on the bigger end of the spectrum that these vehicles come with. Elfs were originally made to be medium-duty trucks before being converted into campervans, hence the relatively hefty engine.
Aside from its cute and cuddly aesthetic, it turns out that the Isuzu Elf makes a habit out of playing hard to get. Unfortunately, it turns out that the majority of people that want to purchase one don’t follow through as these vehicles must be bought sight unseen at Japanese auctions before being imported. The only evidence buyers get to look at is a singular pre-purchase inspection sheet written in Japanese that Weldon translates himself. Thankfully, he says you get what you pay for when it comes to buying a JDM camper.
Red tape aside, we think Doug Demuro would have a field day with the Elf; as it was intended for Japanese markets, the vehicle is right-hand-drive. Along with the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car, the kitchen features a microwave that also functions as an oven. Everything else is fairly what you’d expect for a campervan. For a vehicle of its form factor, we’re surprised to see a private bathroom and shower unit inside the camper.
Even with the uncertainty that comes with buying Japanese imports, the exclusivity factor is hard to argue with. And what this vehicle lacks in size, it makes up for with character.