A Toyota Hiace or Alphard as a Campervan – thoughts?
Still on the hunt for a campervan, predominately for me and 1 spaniel to go off for 5 day walking trips, occasionally joined by Mrs A (we’d need an awning as there would then be 3 dogs, so me and dogs in awning, Mrs A in van!). We’ve done lots of camping in the past.
Been looking and trying to learn, and it’s slightly scary to take the plunge as prices are very high. Don’t want to do a conversion myself. Happy(ish) to pay high for me, if reasonably sure that we could sell on in 2 years for similar(ish) amount. Appreciate it’s a bad time to be a buyer. Have a max budget that we can get together of £25k but really would like to pay less.
Also, if possible, I’d like an automatic.
Historically we’ve always bought old secondhand cars with abnormally low miles, and always been lucky with this approach. Lots of campers are 150K miles which makes me nervous.
So what about a Japanese import. Look to be 50% cheaper, smaller but probably OK for bulk of my use, auto, and low miles.
Or best to suck it up and pay £20K+ for a Ford/Vauxhall/VW with 100K+ miles.
Any opinions?Posted 1 month ago
I ran a Hiace hi top for eight years It was brilliant and never gave me any grief until rust kicked in. Before I bought it I looked at 25 VW campers before giving up and buying the ToyotaPosted 1 month ago
I would be very wary of the reported milage on jap imports. They all seem to turn up at our shores with fewer than 5,000miles per annum, but wear that suggests more and zero history. They’re also pretty small inside.Posted 1 month ago
I find the climb in and the driving position on Hiace’s not something I like at all def pushes way down on the list for mePosted 1 month ago
I have had a Toyota Hiace high top camper for about 17 years. Aside from tyres, a couple of alternators (their Achilles heel apparently) and a battery, it’s not given us any issues. Need to get some (hopefully cosmetic) rust sorted but I have no plans to move it on as it’s basically family.
Prekids, the wife and I spent a long spring/summer in Europe doing the #vanlife thing before it was a thing. I find the driving position fine and with all the mirrors it’s not too bad to park even with the limited visibility out the back.
Campers are crazy money right now so good luck and be cynical!Posted 1 month ago
Alphard or VellFire if you can get them as they are luxurious. Very comfortable.
Hiace is just a workhorse van but if you can get the far east version the better coz it is a rocket.Posted 1 month ago
Also, if possible, I’d like an automatic
That will really limit your choice. Not sure if there’s any bigger auto stuff, Transits, Vivaros etc.Posted 1 month ago
Do you have a manual license and would just prefer an auto or does it have to be auto?
Fairly pricey and thirsty but Bongo? Way less than £20, maybe 7-8 for a decent one and they dont appear to depreciate so if you are only going to keep it a couple of years might be worth looking at.
Dafter suggestion, Chevy Astra V8? Definitely auto ones about and the LPG converted ones wont be *too* horrendous on fuel…
If you’re looking at the Alphard give the Nissan Elgrand a look too. I picked one up last year and have to say though initially sceptical I bloody love the thing for bike/family/camping duty. Super practical, 8 seater and able to sling an xl 29er in the back with ease. Seats fold flat to make a bed, lots of quirky JDM gadgets and Google translate is invaluable until you lear what all the buttons do 😆
Downside is the mpg but you do get a nice lazy 3.5 v6, auto everything, 4×4 and every possible option you can imagine. Not quite as big as a builders van but if you can live with the mpg and slightly less space then worth looking into. Should be able to pick up a low mileage, high spec and ready converted van for well within your budget.
You can also get a full VX report if worries about previous history/mileage in Japan.Posted 1 month ago
I must admit I don’t know a lot about them and how busy they are. But a suitable vehicle and an Amdro kit with an awning? It would let you pick a good, low mileage, vehicle of your choice. Plus obviously the conversion would be new.Posted 1 month ago
Thanks all, will look further.
Automatic is in part my preference, having been forced to get one 20 yes back after a major motorcycle crash, and just like the ease of it now!
Nissan Elgrand on the looking list too.Posted 1 month ago
Algy’s Autos for Japanese import stuff.Posted 1 month ago
The Bristol end of Algy’s is a Customer of ours. They are can do the conversion at this end of the import if that helps.
If I was going to buy a Hiace it would have to be this one.Posted 1 month ago
Millions of auto elgrands out there. (not sure if manual is even available for the later ones?)Posted 1 month ago
I don’t personally like the UK Hiace and Alphard for camper van conversion due to the lack of usable space behind the cab. Similar issue to VW where the only way to get a decent amount of living space is to install rotating front seats, but then you end up with the rock and roll type conversion where 2 seat are right at the front, 2 right at the back and the kitchen in the middle, with a table that you can’t sit around. For anything other than brief usage I don’t find this very good at all.
Japanese import Toyota Hiace uses a different shaped van with a very small cabin at the front (sitting on the engine) and much more living space behind for the same sized van.
Poplar motors and JCSSW both have small numbers of the Japanese Toyota Hiace in stock (converted) but even these are getting pretty expensive now. I don’t personally like the way they are using the space that much although Poplar Motors are doing a slightly better job of it from what I can see. It’s possible to get a newer van and then the rotating camper van seats from an older model and get a really good setup but this takes some effort and research.
Send me a message if you are interested in seeing what you can do with a Japanese Import Hiace as we still have ours and use it regularly.They’re nearly all automatics, we have the diesel but most imports these days are petrol. Ours does mid 30’s mpg, no idea what the petrol one does. Incredibly reliable, have had 2 for a total of about 10 years between them and other than the odd wear and tear issue nothing has ever gone wrong with them. Way more reliable than most of the newer cars I have owned.Posted 1 month ago
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