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There are recreational vehicles of diverse sizes. Some come as large as a bus. Others are as small as a dog house on wheels and are towed behind something. For those people seeking an RV with a small footprint that still has some of the comforts of home, an Isuzu Elf Camper RV might be the ticket. It might be one of the better options for a tiny camper, but there is a catch.

Updated: 8/5

A small, white Isuzu RV is viewed from the front driver's side.
The Isuzu Elf Camper, a small RV for six | Pacific Coast Auto via YouTube

RVs are pandemic travel solutions

Traveling can be a pain during these pandemic days. You never know how clean a hotel room is. And, if you travel by rail, bus, or plane, you are forced to be in close proximity to masses of people. This can be a little disconcerting. So, RV sales have been picking up during the pandemic as a way to travel and personally be able to control the cleanliness of your environment at the same time. 

The Elf Camper

The Isuzu Elf camper is a small RV with enough headroom to stand in. It has a bathroom, two-burner stove, refrigerator, microwave, sink, a bed in the mom’s attic, and a convertible dining set that creates another bed and two bunks in the back. In theory, the Elf can handle six people. In reality, however, it is a tight fit for a family of six. It seems more appropriate for a family of four. 

The truck the RV is based upon

The Elf is built on one of Isuzu’s small, industrial, commercial, medium-duty trucks. It is a COE (cab over engine vehicle). So, the 4.3-liter, 4-cylinder diesel engine is between the driver and front passenger, over the front wheels. The wheelbase is pretty small. So, it provides for a tight turning radius. That is something that is not often found in an RV. Some of the Elfs are even available in four-wheel-drive. So, overlanding is a possibility too. The truck platform is very versatile and used in different configurations around the world, such as a flatbed, box truck, etc.

There is a catch, though

There is a catch when it comes to the Elf Camper. The little tight world solution to travel is available only through a Japanese domestic model importer or JDM importer. So, it does take some time to get to the United States, and it has the steering wheel on the right side. According to our friend at Motor1,

“[the] majority of people that want to purchase one don’t follow through as these vehicles must be bought sight unseen at Japanese auctions before being imported. The only evidence buyers get to look at is a singular pre-purchase inspection sheet written”

A small, white Isuzu RV is viewed from the front passenger's side.
The Isuzu Elf Camper, a small RV for six | Pacific Coast Auto via YouTube

Export laws require a vehicle to be over 25 years old before it can be brought into the United States. This means that there might be some good deals to be had on an RV that is in good condition overseas. If you are willing to do the paperwork and wait it out for delivery, bringing the Elf Camper in might be the solution you are looking for. Buyer beware, though. Always do the due diligence to determine your money is not going to be wasted.


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