Isuzu elf terra 500 get one from Japan


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a few photos of the seats I designed.
The original seats were worn out, not comfortable to sleep on, didn't had much storage underneath and were very heavy.
This are simple 20mm aluminum frame boxes, very light but stable enough.
With different wholes in the top I adjust the back rest, and to make the bed I take both of them out, place them behind the cabin seats, secured at the wall there.

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New member
fridge Engel SR90F, needed a little more cut out to fit. The Waeco CR1080 fits perfectly as a replacement to the common 3 way fridges, which don't pass compliance due gas and 110V.
I had VERY bad experiences with the Waeco fridge, sold it and got the Engel.
The Waeco takes to much power, never under 4.5A, startup with 6.5A! I have two Victron 100AH batteries, but never felt safe.
The Engel takes max 3.3A, now in winter 8 degree over night around 2A.
The Waeco rosts at the back grit being outside ventilated at the back of the camper, and there is more.
The Engel's compressor vibrates when new that much, that other parts of the fridge become noisy but it gets better.
The Waeco operates pretty quite but quality is not long lasting, my experience.
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New member
Need help learning the Elf150

Hello everyone, I recently bought 1995 Elf150 Terra 500 Motorhome here in UK. Two wheel drive auto. All the seller had was an japanese manula for the motorhome and for the last three months i have had a fruitless earch for a manual. Most of it I have figured out but I am puzzled by a toggle switch (orange light when on) beside the choke? I dont undertsand what it does. Does anyone know what it is?


elf 2014

New member
Can Someone Please help??? I need a owners manual in English.. Can anyone point me in the right direction??

Bill billing

New member
Hey I see this thread hasn't been active in years but dropping a post because I've just bought a 1994 Isuzu Elf Terra 500 at auction in Japan. It's about to leave the port from Japan, so I'm looking online to fine tips and information on them. Mine reportedly runs well and has no rust. What I know it needs is a shift knob, the AC isn't working, and I noticed its missing the water fill cap (or at least I think its the water fill cap).

I've seen some good information here already but if anyone has redone suspension or has any other updates I'd love to hear about them! When mine shows up I'll post my slow (very slow, I'm out of money now haha) updates

oh also I seen most online have a propane heater but I believe mine has a gas heater, that second hatch on the side I believe is the tank for the heater. Can anyone confirm that??



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Bill billing

New member
ok cool, I read through earlier posts more thoroughly and saw my questions about the gas heater and suspension answered!


New member
@Bill billing just sent you a message - I’m looking to dive in to the same unknown waters! Talking right now with a guy who specializes in exporting Japanese campers to Australia, but has some experience with exporting to the US as well. Slight premium over the auction route, but with the benefit of being able to get something clean and with a mechanical once-over at least. Check your DM’s!

Bill billing

New member
@Bill billing just sent you a message - I’m looking to dive in to the same unknown waters! Talking right now with a guy who specializes in exporting Japanese campers to Australia, but has some experience with exporting to the US as well. Slight premium over the auction route, but with the benefit of being able to get something clean and with a mechanical once-over at least. Check your DM’s!
Just replied!

Isuzu pete

New member
Does anyone know what the easiest way to change the wheels out?
I have a 94 Outback Express and need to get some wheels for it that are not split rim. I have no idea where to purchase them as the bolt pattern is a bizarre 6x170mm which appears to be some kind of kubota pattern or something. I have no idea which hubs might work to change to a different pattern but if anyone knows of some non-split rims for sale somewhere I am willing to pay a premium for them.

Bill billing

New member
hi guys, I got it over a year ago, the one on the photo I believe.

I went through the whole thing, bought it, received in a less good condition (typical rust), complained and got a good refund, repaired and upgraded everything. After all I am pretty happy with the Elf.
There is a lot of info and I think its a good idea to keep most important general stuff here at the beginning of the thread. So I wrote a little report.
Isuzu Elf 150, Terra 500 NHS69E (the S stands for 4x4) 4JG2 motor (3.1 liter no turbo) L.T. Campers in Japan

There are a few obvious pros and cons with the Elf 150.
If you can cope with the cons, you will love the pros. Its like with the Peugeot J9 camper I had, very specific, something for the heart.

pros: especially in a city its very easy to drive, turns nearly on the spot, parking with 5 Meters no problem, doesn't bother others when free camping. Its a solid commercial truck. The interior is solid and good quality, large windows, good insulation against sun and cold, mine came with Truma (3002 I guess) gas heater(no AUS compliance) and 110v under-built generator. There was also a heat and cool air exchanger under the back seat, fed by engine hot water and front air con.

So far I did not had the trouble with parts, Isuzu was very helpful and quick.
The price for vans from Japan is low, I was lucky to get one for 35.000 all inclusive, because of rust, with heavy negotiation I got some bucks back.
*I could had the truck rejected as "not delivered as promised". Import agents are somehow liable and registered. I just mentioned that, because a major fear of buying overseas without even seeing the car, can be nerve wracking.

Cons: the Elf 150 4x4 is a 3.715 ton truck, weights empty 2.8t (shipping papers).
With 100L water, 65L Diesel, AUX *batteries and all other stuff I have, I am around 3.5 tons (public weight bridge).
That is a bit heavy for the engine and suspension, especially considering the short wheel base and short axle.

So, loaded like mine, it takes it's time, bounces a bit and won't go through turns as fast as most others. But with less weight it runs like a normal van.

After the job of an AUS compliance workshop you will have only a two- seater, copper instead of alloy gas pipes, a new stove and fridge (110v and gas needs disconnect), and new tyres, it came on winter tyres.
The boiler was no problem with compliance. The 110v electrics need to be disconnected and replaced by some 240v stuff, RCD, in let socket and 2 power points inside, not a big job.

You have to know, the Elf camper is used in Japan for skiing holidays in the mountains, the 4x4 perfect for that. Even thou the 4x4 appears very tough, has man front diff locks, the Elf is a single wheeler, I recon for the sand more clearance and less top weight would be helpful. But it will get itself out of the mud well with proper tyres.
With my 6.5R16 split rims I am so far left with high way tyres, lacking on profile. But I had no time yet to look for alternative rims and tyres.

I found the camper online on a web page of an import agent, usually getting tuned Jap cars over to AUS. He sits in AUS, has connections in Japan to check and test drive cars and search and buy cars on auctions, which are very popular in Japan. Japan has strict environmental laws, engines have to be renewed before 100t km, therefor lots of cars leave with low km for export. You can google for "import agent japan" or check for Nissan Skyline aso forums.

That agent had a useful cost calculator on his page. For my camper 20.000$ for the dealer, 1500$ for the agent arranging everything, app 7000$ for shipping, stamp duty, harbor costs, delivery aso, payed directly to the shipping company, and 4000$ for the compliance in a Elf certified compliance workshop. All together 34000$.
I got the photos, an auction grade 4 promised, also no nuclear contamination :0)). Delivery took app 3 month, one more than expected; due it's height they collect trucks, before the raise the ferry deck :eek:))

I mentioned the rust before, looked like the Titanic on the ocean ground, but nothing that bad, that it would be major. The Elf's main frame looked ok, crossing frames added for the camper needed some replacement and welding, the front discs needed sanding, all shocks new. The whole under-body got sand blasted and sprayed with epoxy.
My Elf was obviously parked close to the ocean and not moved for years, so I had trouble with the power steering pump (valve got stuck) and the air con fan, both were replaced, all part of me calculation, even thou it took time and nerves.

Important for me was the condition of the diesel (no smoke), transmission, 4x4, and untouched electric. I test drove one with a damaged 4x4 box (the low gear handle didn't stay position) Also saw one with new motor.
These truck are driven by normal folks. It's for instance possible to unintentionally hit the 4x4 button on the dash board and twist the suspension on paved roads. Happened to me and I noticed it by pulling tide into a parking lot! So make sure you get a good one!

So, as I mentioned, I figured there are some different versions of two AUS complied Elf models, the "Terra 500", and the "Out-Back Express", which is more on a Elf 250 base with double tires in the back.
The Out-Back Express are a bit darker inside, kitchen on the side, so back entrance, but then with easy transferable side bench/bed, that add up to the seats/bed.

I found an Elf 150 type with double bunk bed in the back, smaller toilet, kitchen on side, which looked interesting.

For most of those models I found the seats not so practical, they change seating direction (towards driving/table). They are very heavy, little storage underneath and you can't use them while driving any way. I threw mine out, replaced them with alloy frame boxes, table fits in between, to form a bed, adjustable back rests.
I kicked the exchanger out and installed a Truma Compact in-bench air conditioner, which I ordered in Germany online, left tax free Germany, and entered AUS tax free. The Compact takes only app 650Watts (starts on a 1000W generator), the Comfort offered in AUS takes 1000W.

I also installed a water pump, that pulls fresh water out of a jerry can into the 100 liter tank. The water inlet of the Elf sits quite high, much easier with a high throughput 12V pump.
I have 2x Kyocera panels on the roof, and 2x 100AH Victron Energy AUX batteries, bough over Ebay, which can be charged by alternator over a manual relays.
I use an Watch Guard Alarm, which does a good job, sends me SMS to the phone.

I had bad bad experiences with an Waeco CR1080 fridge and recently replaced it with an Engel ST90F, which has better quality although, doesn't run 50 Min an hour on min 4.5A, doesn't rust yet. It just fitted perfectly into the opening. The Engel is a bit bigger.

A 4JB1-T engine serves probably the Isuzu Bighorn (TrooperII) and Mu/Wizard (Rodeo) which is a turbo. Would love to know if, in some time it could replace the 4JG2, and what the exact differences are.

So that's it, happy to answer any questions, love to get more info about alloy rims and wider tyres (mine run with 80 PSI, maximum pressure) an argument for double tyres, Fiamma F1 awning, frame structure.

Hey I've referred to your post and multiple times since importing mine! I'm still trying to get my Terra 500 inspected but my mechanic is having trouble researching parts due to the fact the vin number doesn't match up with American vin numbers.

Do you, or anyone here happen to know of a parts catalog for the 1994 Isuzu Elf terra 500? Or any other way to research parts in the states for these things?