We don't usually supply campers, but as a family working and living in Japan with a passion for the outdoors & a combined desire for relative luxury when on holiday - a couple of years ago we traded our family people carrier for a similar Hiace Cruising Cabin 4-berth mobile home by Toyota Technocraft (TRD). We had never realised how practical & comfortable it really could be until we tried it, but as a result every weekend we have a chance to get away, now we do! Which was about 15 weekends a year and a couple of longer holidays touring (Japan) - in just the first year (We're now into our 3rd year of camping). A typical trip can include about 3,500km and 10 days of driving as we were able to stay in some amazingly scenic places, often for free!
Unfortunately our's didn't start off nearly as perfectly preserved as this one but at the time we bought it - it was by far the best we had come across. We've since restored it to even better standards incl. wide arches with deep dish Watanebe zero offset rims & a lightweight Motorcycle rack on the back!), it's too late to change, or we'd have kept this example for ourselves instead of offering it from our stock - without doubt. In fact, we imported another one similar to ours in Japan to the UK and used it ourselves last summer, for a 4 day trip to the lake district as a young family of 4, before putting it up for sale (It sold quickly and could have sold several times over - such was the demand). A luxury holiday like this at peak season with hotels, etc. would have cost a lot more - with the camper, every night was free, often with great views too! We've included a couple of pics of our own too!
With a keen interest in these Hiace Camping vehicles, we kept an eye on the market for another for over a year - and when this amazing condition example came along, we just knew it had to be bought! So this is a unique opportunity for just ONE like-minded person, as someone who similarly enjoys outdoor sports, hiking, etc.
Naturally, for an example as nice & rare as this, competition was very strong from the Japanese domestic market (Japan is 65% mountains and several islands, so the camping possibilities are endless & these RV vehicles are therefore very sought after), but we notice the price we can offer it at is £Thousands less than a similar condition low mileage petrol VW Transporter 2.8 Diesel Westfalia sells for, which isn't nearly as well appointed!
This vehicle was built by E. Spirit in Japan as a professional conversion, purpose made from a new high-roofed luxury model of the longest wheelbase Toyota built. Also including with windows all-round which was originally only available specially ordered from Toyota, Japan. Designed in the 90's, at the peak of the Japanese bubble years, when money was no object it's evident a lot of design elements and selection of the best components available only to high quality manufacturers were incorporated into the design.
Rather than listing all the features, as we know the vehicle well we hope the reader won't mind reading a sort of guided tour instead:
When the vehicle is to be used for living / camping, there is ample headroom and an insect proof vent is easily opened to allow hot / cooking air to escape at the top as well as on either side of the (insulated) high roof.
This vehicle is classified as a legal 7 seater. When converting for living, the middle bench can easily be shifted for the bench to face rearward and locked into place. Some of the seats are also reclinable, for varying backrest positions or indeed to make a comfortable double-bed.
A table stored at the back is then also locked into position. This leaves the kitchen area open for use and if necessary the dining table can also be used for food preparation too.
The small gas stove is fed by a small disposable camping gas canister and can be used for basic water heating (for coffee, tea, etc) or basic cooking. A basic camping stove could also be added if desired. Clean water is fed by an electric (adjustable flow & spout) faucet which drains into a separate tank under the sink. The Engel (best camping fridge manufacturers!)fridge is also on the centalised 12V system and is capable of keeping ice frozen in summer, or keeping beers ice cold. Also there is switchable lighting for every possibility (To save battery power we have converted most of our interior lighting to LED - very easy & inexpensive to do on one of these).
To charge the aux battery the car needs to be connected to mains, or the aux batteries are also always charged whenever the engine is running.
These auxiliary batteries are independent of 2 other engine starter batteries (located under the front passenger bench). Cleverly, this means it's unlikely the occupants find themselves stranded from running batteries down whilst using the vehicle as a home. Note that no matter where you are - it's always possible to get Aux power & charging with the engine on idle.
Heating and air-conditioning controls are also controllable from the rear. Even in very hot weather conditions, the rear can be completely cool, or vice versa if using the vehicle for camping in winter. There's also an (expensive!) Webasto Diesel powered heater built-in. There is storage for clothes, equipment, etc. under the sink and also under bench areas. This means it's possible to have bags packed the night before departing for a trip, then just place them in their storage spaces! With our own - we usually leave the vehicle on mains electricity when we remember, so the batteries are being charged fully too, ready for our trip away.
There's ample space in the back for carrying other gear too. In our's we carry a perfectly sized clear plastic box that allows the bed to be in full horizontal position, whilst allowing us to carry: A full kitchen & dining set to feed 8 people incl. pan, kettle, etc, a foldable table with a foldable BBQ that has it's own compartment in the middle of the table - for cooking and eating together, 6 folding (nylon) camping chairs in individual bags, supply of charcoal, hanging LED lights for outside and a few pillows in plastic bags. We also have a hammock tent for use by up to two people - which takes up little space & is very comfortable. There's even space for a few umbrellas and small bags.
We find we can carry enough luggage to live comfortably for a week with 4 people. Usually when at a caping spot for the night we use the front seats for storing bags and other things, but then we aren't exactly known for travelling light...!
After cleaning up a meal, the table top can be stored away in it's compartment in the back and the bed made downstairs - easily within about 3 minutes and the bed above the driver's cabin doesn't take much more than a couple of minutes to prepare for sleeping on either.
All of the living area has privacy glass & there are curtains for every window too. Each window is openable except the rear of course, unless you open the tailgate. Note there's some custom mesh netting for use on the rear windows to allow for comfort of ventilation for occupants overnight especially in warmer summer weather. When it's time to move on, turning it all back into a vehicle is easy too. The ease with which this vehicle can be lived in and the comfort it gives is not far off perfection.
Usually whilst my wife is preparing some fresh food (We usually BBQ in warmer months), I tend to be outside either playing with the kids, or putting out the awning (Which takes less than 2 minutes!) and preparing the table, chairs, BBQ, etc. Without much effort at all, this vehicle turns into a comfortable home after a long drive!
In Japan we have natural hot springs and public bathrooms which are usually spotless, so this camper wasn't designed to include a toilet, but being a LWB model, there is actually space for a Portable toilet to be stored in one of the cupboards if desired. In the wilderness we usually just find a private space, or use facilities in a camping site. A shower may be desirable to the new owner in UK (Or Europe). Thoughtfully there's already a shower head at the sink, so to create a shower curtain to allow a generous shower area whuldn't be difficult, really - although bear in mind the water isn't then heated! There are inexpensive kits available from camping suppliers to hang a black tank on top of the (elevating) roof and use UV to heat the water and the height to create pressure. Make a shower curtain if desired using the back door as a ceiling - thus a shower would be possible, we expect.
Please note: The slideshow includes a tour of the interior in the same order as above - with comments about the equipment itself which will hopefully illustrate the features abounding.
Driving: During our 4 days with a similar vehiclein the UK we noticed we were often overtaking slower campers making slow progress on the motorway, whilst we sat on the outside lane, probably getting twice the economy they would from their petrol engines, or larger Diesel engines! The UK equivalents are also usually manual, whereas this has a smooth automatic transmission with overdrive, capable of getting up steep slopes without losing much speed thanks to the torque of the Toyota 2.8 Diesel 4 cylinder engine.
This particular vehicle has been perfectly maintained. The photographs of condition should speak for themselves after 23 years of ownership by it's single previous owner. The timing belt was replaced at 88,844km, complete with all accompanying requirements for the major service and it's always been meticulously serviced. The transmission is automatic and built for use on a heavy vehicle. The 2.8 4 cyl. Diesel engine is not endowed with a lot of power, but we've found our vehicle will climb the steepest slopes & twists for an hour if needed, no problem - or cruise at 120km/h (75 mph) for hours on motorways without being excessively noisy for occupants in the back. For long trips drivers can take it in turns to sleep whilst the other drives, either night or day.
On a long run (We're not known for driving for economy - would rather get there sooner!) we can get about 550km from the 60 litre tank. This particular example drives & operates all perfectly with no faults to report and there's no reason it cannot give another 20 years of outdoor pleasure & travelling luxury if it remains well looked after.
Other equipment not already mentioned also includes: 3 Speed Automatic Transmission with overdrive (4th) specially geared for low rpm when cruising, 2.8 4cyl. Diesel engine, 60 litre fuel tank, 2 seats at the front with central storage box to provide a small elbow rest / cup holder, seating for 5 at the rear, factory fitted privacy glass, power steering, driving lights incorporated in the headlights, Powerful air conditioning with remote master switch (located above the driver's head) for the rear air conditioning system, 2 heating controls (front & rear) with master switch in the dashboard (Air con & heating is very efficient - Japan has very hot / humid summers & cold crisp winters), spare wheel & tools mounted under the rear floor, aux power socket (110v currently - but easy to change to EU 240V using a suitable charger unit from good DIY camper van parts suppliers), high-level brake lamp & large 4 brake light system at the rear, truck style mirrors incl. additional convex front & rear mirrors to make parking easy, steps with lighting, etc.
16" alloy wheels with good quality Yokohama tyres, side visor set, remote central locking. Hopefully with the detailed description above & captioned pictures the reader will gain a full understanding of the many features this vehicle comes with and why it's very special & unique.
Further customising: With our's we have continued to develop better solutions. Being (motor)bike nuts - and often finding ourselves camping where there are beautiful roads - we have found a towing kit that works in combination with a purpose built bike carrier (For which we're in the process of building a very tricked out 250 2-stroke 2 cyl GP race replica) but carrying a small bike may be wider than the vehicle itself. Being specialists in finding unusual parts in Japan, we have located some specific wide arch kits which allows for use of Watanabe deep dish wheels of 15 inch diameter, 8J width and offset of zero. There are kits to make the sliding door swing out more when opened (To clear the 5cm wider rear arch) and also lowering kits. For improved driver comfort we've fitted a Recaro driver's seat & a steering boss so a leather steering wheel (Slightly smaller than original) could then be added.
There are LED taillight kits - we've updated the tail lights on our's too, but didn't plumb for tail LEDs. At the front we fitted a high intensity set of LED bulbs to improve night-time road illumination. In our's the radio & original speakers were horrible, so we fitted a Parrot Asteroid Smart which has Bluetooth and voice activated music selection and phone controls. We then fitted a high-spec concealed 14 speaker sound system with three separate amplifiers. Not for punching loud heavy bass music, but for clarity & quality of sound at any volume level, which provides an infinitely richer travelling experience than the old cassette / radio in the dash!
Should the new owner of this vehicle want details of the sound system we have spent much time working out with different components from all over the world, or wish to order things not available in Europe such as alloy wheels, arches, lights, or other accessories for a Hiace. we are happy to help. Just ask!
Please note: This is a Japanese market vehicle and the charging system is for 110-120v 50Hz mains voltage. To use mains voltage in Europe, a 220-240v battery charger / transformer will need to be retro-fitted and if desired, an adaptor used to run mains electricals from the fitted (Japanese / US style) wall receptacles. We would expect the new owner to source the transformer and fit / arrange professional fitting in UK as there are suitable chargers available from most good DIY mobile home equipment suppliers. Will be very easy to do, as the charger is completely accessible.
Body & underside condition: Most examples of any Hiace camper (There were very few truly good Hiace 100 series campers like this or our own - still surviving today) we see are horribly worn, dented, rusty, etc. Few have these levels of luxury yet alone body condition of this example. The faults about to be described are all small and not worth repairing, but are mentioned to give a complete report:
There are some scratches to the sliding door, which can be repaired at small additional cost if desired (About £300 to do). The rest of the body is excellent throughout and there is no rust at all. The paintwork's condition and quality should speak for itself. It's clear to us this car has lived under roofed storage when not in use. Also it's clear it wasn't used for winter sports (As our'shas been) - which means the chassis & body aren't rusty (We'd recommend undersealing or better still - annual waxoyling to preserve in this condition going forward if using regularly in the UK!). Japan's roads are generally very clean and snow doesn't fall in the larger cities of Honshu, where this vehicle has always been. Interior is essentially near perfect. There is a dent on the door of the cabinet to the left of the sliding door and a couple of light marks on the carpet, but essentially this vehicle is in a condition best described as time-warped! Condition is as shown in the pictures including the underside - Stunning, essentially!
Contact us to secure this unique mobile home by E. Spirit - Japan.
Please note that we will never again be able to find another example as special & well preserved as this, so if you're seriously interested, don't waste time. No offers please! Once it's sold, we'll be sad to see this one go.
We hope it'll find a new home with an owner who enjoys his Hiace as much as we do our's & looks after it well.
Ready to go now, this vehicle is currently in storage at our facility in Japan and is ready to ship.
UK OTR Price: £16,995. Includes valeting & new MOT, with 12 months comprehensive warranty. For sales inquiries where the car would be shipped direct to another country, ask!
Newera - Consistently recommended by tuners, magazines and online communities as the best source for unique & special vehicles in Japan to export anywhere worldwide.