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Review Of The Toyota Hiace - Customised Campervan

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 Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion
(Sleeping Capacity  2 persons)

Toyota Hiace Campervan Conversion - A Special Custom Job


Toyota Hiace (1994) Overview
If you are looking for something unusual, and I mean unusual, then this type of Toyota Hiace campervan may be what you are looking for. The most economical way of buying one of these is to buy direct from the Japanese Auctions, import it then have it professionally converted. It may sound daunting however, there are specialist companies out there that will do the whole procedure for you and at quite a reasonable cost. We bought ours via an Importer from Folkestone. We told him what we were looking for, he contacted his scout in Japan who sent pictures over of prospective vehicles. The importer shows you and you decide on how much you want to pay through the Auction. Then they try and get it for you. The Importer arranges all the necessary Customs paperwork and employs a shipping company to bring it over for you. The approximate cost of shipping from Japan for this height of vehicle is £1,000. The importer will require payment for the vehicle before shipping and you may have to pay the shipping in advance as well. Scary it may be however, it will be all worth it in the end.

When it arrived at Folkestone the Importer collected it and we went to see it. As soon as we were happy with it we paid him the final costs and he sorted out the odometer conversion, special VOSA Post Import test, undersealed, import duties and VAT.



Auction price: £3,850
Shipping: £1,000
Importer Charges £500
Import Duties, VAT and other charges £1150
Total cost £6,250


Having got it home (it drove like a dream) from Folkestone we soon decided that we wanted it to converted from a Day campervan to a Night campervan. The campervan was previously owned by a high class Pimp in Tokyo and was a Street Cruiser, hence the low mileage. It had no heating or cooking facilities and the bed settee seating was side facing so no seat belts were allowed. It only had 20,000 miles on the clock and the bodywork was perfect as they don’t use salt on the roads in Japan so it was worth spending out to have it properly converted.

Several quotes were obtained varying from £5,000 to over £14,000. Our last call and visit was to Wellhouse Leisure, Shepley, Huddersfield. As luck would have it they were happy to do a bespoke camper on condition the inserts were left to them as they wanted to experiment with new lighting, units, etc. We were more than happy with that, and even got to discuss with them the basic design we wanted. It was also on condition it could be done as a fill-in job with a six week window. As we were going abroad for 5 weeks anyway it fell in just right. We were supplied with photographs by email on the conversion progress throughout. Right on time we went to pick it up six weeks later. To say it was stunning was an understatement. The quality of work was extremely high, without a single fault. We had gone from:- Side facing bed settee, 110 volt fridge, Shower cubicle with Porta Potti and basic lighting to:-

Current Specification
2.8 Aspirated diesel engine, 4 speed Automatic gearbox, Power steering, Electric windows, Category 1 Thatcham Approved alarm. Dinette that converts to 4 foot x 6 foot double bed, 3 burner Smev cooker/sink combination, Webasto diesel blown air heating, 240 volt mains, 12v sockets, Fiamma F45 wind-out awning, 17’’ flat screen TV, 1 x 110amp leisure battery, 1 x 440amp inverter power battery, 1000 watt inverter, turbo vent polar control ceiling fan, Porta-Potti in floor level cupboard, loads of cupboard space, Night stick-on blinds, fully insulated and easy clean flooring.


Conversion by Wellhouse Leisure, Shepley, Huddersfield

Base Vehicle
Toyota Hiace. Body kit fitted in Japan in 1994 when new.


Pros and Cons  
Pros Cons

Good driving position & front overhang shades the cab
Can be parked in any parking place where you can gain additional length for overhang
Well designed for daytime camping
Roll out awning handy during inclement weather
Good lighting and heating for night time camping
Big back door to allow access from rear and allow fresh air through campervan
Plenty of worktop space for preparing meals
You will never be without friends with the design. Not a vehicle for anyone who wants solitude. You are not going to slip in and out of anywhere without being noticed and paid attention to
You get a lot of campervan for your money

Uneconomical at 22mpg overall.
Heavy at 2280kg
Underpowered – struggles up steep hills
With the engine between the seats meant that the front seats could not be used as Captains seats.
You have to make up the bed layout at night
Limited movement when bed is down.
Porta Potti is at floor level and difficult to use at night
When the side door is open during rain it drips into the vehicle
You will not be left alone – everyone is curious and you often see faces peering up against the one way windows

The Verdict
Wow, this is the campervan to be seen in. It is Ok for two able bodied people however, for one this is the perfect friend/lady catcher for sure. It gives excellent value for money as the total cost was under £14,000. That is a lot of campervan with no rust and only 20,000 miles on the clock. It is just a pity it is so underpowered. Had this have had a 3000cc Turbo Diesel with 4x4, as some do, it would be an awesome machine to be reckoned with.


Information and Links
Check Out More About Motorhomes
Looking for a second-hand  Motorhome or Campervan, try here  Free Ads Motorhomes
For more details on campervan conversions check out Wellhouse Leisure  at Shepley, Huddersfield where this van was converted

Reviewed by JaG for 365 Camping Caravanning

Reviewed 2010





Toyota Hiace Custom Camper



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