This small Japanese Isuzu Rodeo Camper sounds good on paper. Any thoughts or experiences?

#1
I recently Learned of the existence of the Japanese "Isuzu Camping Car" based on the Isuzu Rodeo chassis (it looks like there is a pretty much identical Nissan/Datsun version as well). On paper it sounds pretty good, but there isn't much information on out there about these things.
  • 4x4 with manual locking hubs
  • Turbo diesel 2.8L engine (looks like the 4JB1 or 4JB1-T)
  • 5 speed manual transmission
  • One Piece fiberglass camper body, apparently with the same advantages as a sunrader (no seams to leak)
  • Small (not sure exactly how small but would probably fit in a normal parking space
  • Fully self contained w/ shower
  • Right hand drive
  • Looks to be about the size of a Toyota Sunrader, maybe a little lower profile.

Anyone have any experiences with this cool little camper? or the engine or isuzu rodeo chassis? What are your thoughts?
 
#3
I briefly looked at one here in Oregon. The weird thing with that build was that you stood in a sunken area at the rear, btw the frame rails to use the stove/sink and still have headroom. So I'd want to know what the vertical interior height is on one. Other than that, it looked like a cool little rig. Would make a fun ski camper for sure.
 
#4
The weird thing with that build was that you stood in a sunken area at the rear, between the frame rails to use the stove/sink and still have headroom. So I'd want to know what the vertical interior height is on one. Other than that, it looked like a cool little rig. Would make a fun ski camper for sure.
Do you recall what the interior height was on the one you checked out? And did the sunken area between the frame rails go the length of the camper or was it just near the back cooking area? Any other Observations?
 
#5
I went to test drive it, and when I got there it was out on a test drive and then the guy came back and bought it! Seemed like a toyota dolphin, but smaller. Cool build, had potential. The sunken area was just at the back. Some have a hatch/storage there. Ceiling was under 6', I had to stoop a little. That's about all I know...
 
#6
I briefly looked at one here in Oregon. The weird thing with that build was that you stood in a sunken area at the rear, btw the frame rails to use the stove/sink and still have headroom....
not at all related to this thread .. but there was a youtube of a cap camper made with a ford ranger and the guy cut out the floor over where the spare tire would traditionally be mounted for the same headroom gain.

sorry; carry on.
 
#7
very cool, sure is a lot packaged onto that platform!
My husband and I had a deposit on one in Vancouver, and the owner sold it to someone local. Crushed for "losing" what I thought was a perfect score for an RV, I sourced another one in Sask and drove out in a blizzard to see it, test drive it and had high hopes of buying it...UNTIL I saw it. Pictures do not provide perspective of size. It was very "cute", almost like a motorhome made for dolls! I am 5'3" and was BARELY able to stand in the motorhome. My hubby is just shy of 6 feet tall and there wasn't a single bed that he would fit on, he would NOT fit in the shower. Ceiling is about 5'5"-5'6" high in total, and it could perhaps sleep 5 children, but absolutely not 5 adults over the height of 5'7". Dinette was barely large enough for 2 people to sit. We were disappointed and opted out of the purchase.

Really cool in concept, loved the full fiberglass shell and 4x4, manual diesel option. The two that we found were LHD not RHD, and were very gutless, and I have read that upgrading to a larger turbo does help with that somewhat - which is what I had planned to do (and we were coming from a Eurovan...but in a head wind, this little Isuzu didn't have the "umph" that even our low torque Eurovan had, struggling to reach 80kph on the hiway).

Parts aren't that hard to source; as the Isuzu rodeos were sold in the US (though the diesels not as much), but Isuzu being one of the largest diesel manufacturers in the world means that parts shouldn't be too hard to source.

Only advice with any of these 4x4 motorhomes built on smaller/compact sport utes is GET DIMENSIONS of everything or photos of someone your size in them and on them to get perspective, as you REALLY can't tell their sizing/scale by the photos. I would have been extremely choked to have purchased one from an auction and shipped it over only to discover upon receipt that my daughters and hubby wouldn't really be able to use it, and it would be VERY tough to resell. The interior was also in pretty rough shape (looked great in pictures) with some mold smell (in the foam insulation I'd suspect), sagging headliners in the Coach cabin (which made the head clearance even tough for me) and the electrical a little dubious with a tiny 15amp plug in for the shore power.

Other cost considerations: many of these vehicles will need new all around tires as they will not be DOT approved to meet the out of province inspections, depending on where you live, may struggle with meeting the emissions standards and any leaks (even a pinhole) can lead to fairly costly "renos", having to strip the interior to the shell to address mold and moisture, but at least with a fiberglass shell, are repairable. -just may be a bigger job than anticipated. Japan is not a dry climate, thus know the risk of this when considering an RV from there and factor it into your budget. Pre-purchase inspections and details on the condition and photos at many auctions are almost non-existent, but if you can find one locally, at least check it out for yourself!!!

I hope this helps!!! (and sorry to dash hopes, it's sooo hard to find a "functional" RV for those who like to venture off the beaten path and is fuel efficient that isn't $200K)
Nicole
 
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#8
I briefly looked at one here in Oregon. The weird thing with that build was that you stood in a sunken area at the rear, btw the frame rails to use the stove/sink and still have headroom. So I'd want to know what the vertical interior height is on one. Other than that, it looked like a cool little rig. Would make a fun ski camper for sure.
If it was "sunken" the prior owner just retro-fitted the storage compartment to gain height for the galley. That doesn't address the tiny (super short) beds and very short shower. I'm 5'3" and was close to skimming my head on the ceiling (I measured 5'7" in height for the absolutely longest bed and floor to ceiling height, with a shorter ceiling in the shower and some of the beds shorter. The top, cab over bed could accommodate someone a titch taller if they slept diagonally and allowed their feet to hange over the end, but the dinette would be MAX 5'0" person, and the jackknife sofa a MAX 5'7". re: heigh for a non-modified one of these rigs, Someone taller (5'10") could stand upright with their head in the middle vent. I hope that helps!
 
#9
Yeah, it was small inside. It's all relative though, as I was coming from my ambulance that was about 5'-6" inside. Camper seemed nice, I didn't try the beds as the new owner was getting ready to drive away.

Looked a lot like this, maybe with a different back sunken/cellar/step part:
 
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