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24-07-2020, 11:07   #1
Van Doozy
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Import Mazda Bongo from the UK?

Hi All.

I really love these little campers and am considering importing one in from the UK where they appear to be quite plentiful and reasonably priced. I'll probably wait until after the summer season to see if I can bag a bargain - I am guessing most people are using theirs for staycations now.

I am concerned that they're pushing on a bit in years now though. I don't want to end up with something that will keep breaking down on me,

Anything I should look out for? I have read that the fuel economy isn't great but I don't expect to be drivign it enough for that to matter. Also does anyone have any thoughts on whether the rear or side camper conversion is best?

Looking for the Auto Free Top version with a professional conversion done. The jury seems to be out on the petrol / diesel debate but would appreciate thoughts here as well.

Just looking for opinons really. Would apprciate it! Thanks friends!
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24-07-2020, 22:32   #2
enumbers
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be very careful they are mechanically pretty reliable and basic but they rust really badly
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25-07-2020, 01:01   #3
thor17
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Hi Van doozy.
I dont have one yet, they were made in japan and all are Japanese inports, which isn't a bad thing.
My friend looked at three and bought the third. they seem to be prone to rust in the rear wheel arches, his just needed a sanding and paint, no major repairs, even if it needs a major metal replacement , its better than and engine or gearbox or something. They seem to be a great little camper and the pop top is really high, automatic, all electrics, no brainer? keep shutzs under your wheel arches and its easy peasy after that.
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25-07-2020, 10:35   #4
Alkers
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I have a long thread about mine in the "projects and builds" forum.

No experience importing one but the issues with that will be either vrt being quite expensive in comparison to what you pay for the van in the UK or if it's a DIY conversion, that revenue won't class it a camper.

Mechanically they are good to work on except for some oddities with the coolant system, where it's hard to notice the van overheating which normally ends up cracking the head. The 2.0l petrol engine is apparently completely gutless but that's the best engine for ease of maintenance. The 2.5td is fine but you need to keep on top of the cooling system, fit a low coolant and / or temperature alarm and ensure the coolsnt hoses are in good condition. Even the diesel will only average 25mpg but they're much better to drive than you'd think, especially around town.

Rust is an issue at this stage, front and rear crossmembers, cills and arches. Bring a magnet if looking, many have filler and paint jobs done to conceal rust. May be better to buy with known issues.

If.theres anything specific you want to know give me a shout
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26-07-2020, 01:39   #5
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Hi Alkers, Very good information, thank you, also
overheating-colling keeps coming up as an issue? I sit where the radiator is positioned or something>
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26-07-2020, 09:51   #6
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No, the radiator is in the normal place but the engine is under the front seats. This results in long hoses between the two, which at this stage are 20+ year old rubber and metal. There's a technique needed to bleed air from the system if it looses coolant at all which is a faff but only need to do so if it drops below level of the header tank.

After that, the temperature gauge is terrible so if it overheats, it isn't noticed until after damage is already done (almost always a cracked head). A modified temperature gauge with an alarm and a low coolant alarm cam rectify this issue.
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27-07-2020, 10:09   #7
Van Doozy
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If.theres anything specific you want to know give me a shout
Thanks Alkers - very helpful.
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27-07-2020, 14:03   #8
ep71
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I imported one from UK last feb, VRT was €780 plus you need to do DOE and Tax it for a year to get logbook so you're looking at around €1k in fees once you have it here, I'm not sure if you also have to pay Nox charge now.

We flew over, rented a car, picked up the bongo, returned the rental car and then drove to Holyhead for the Ferry which was around €200 one way. Add the flights, rental and fuel and you're probably looking at about €400 extra so €600 in total.

Once I got the van home it was all rosy for a little while but then I had a fairly disastrous few months where one thing after another went wrong.

I rebuilt or replaced:
Diesel pump
Timing belt
Oil and fuel filters
Long coolant hose
Leisure battery
Front calipers
Roof motor

I also had some welding to do underneath and will have to replace rear arches in the near future if I keep it.

It's a great van and we have had some great adventures in it but It's really quite heavy on diesel to drive every day and you don't go on nearly as many trips as you'd think you would!!

Mine is a 95 2.5TD 4WD with factory kitchen cube and electric pop top
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27-07-2020, 14:23   #9
Van Doozy
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Thanks ep71 that's good info - your list of issues is exactly what I would want to avoid. I am guessing you did a lot of this work yourself - I may not be in a position to do that so any kind of work above the general maintenance and service would be a cost to me.

Can I ask if you bought it privately or from a dealer? There are a few companies in the UK who seem to specialise in them though their prices are a lot higher.
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28-07-2020, 22:35   #10
Van Doozy
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If.theres anything specific you want to know give me a shout
Hi Alkers, Can you tell me - what is the pop top like to accommodate an adult for sleeping? I'm 6ft / regular build.

I am interested in a side conversion kitchen in the camper but the remaining space where the rock and roll bed is looks to be too narrow for 2 regular sized adults to get a decent kip - might have to go bunk beds!
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29-07-2020, 00:07   #11
Alkers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Van Doozy View Post
Hi Alkers, Can you tell me - what is the pop top like to accommodate an adult for sleeping? I'm 6ft / regular build.

I am interested in a side conversion kitchen in the camper but the remaining space where the rock and roll bed is looks to be too narrow for 2 regular sized adults to get a decent kip - might have to go bunk beds!
For one or for two? The pop top bed is great for one, loads of space. It is a big tight for two but manageable if you're on good terms! There's loads of space below but the stock seats don't make a perfect bed and there's a few lumps and bumps. Rock and roll might be quite narrow in fairness, I am not a fan of them personally as they take up so much space and aren't crash rated for seatbelts. More often I have a few passengers than we sleep more than two in the van
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29-07-2020, 13:17   #12
ep71
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I agree, roof bed is ideal for 1, i got the extra thick foam matress for mine and it's great, It is quite tight with 2 people however.... length is fine but width is too narrow and it's a real pain going down for the toilet etc. in the middle of the night as you need to roll to the side to open the hatch door.

As said above, the downstairs bed on the seats is a little uncomfortable so I may get a topper of some sort for it.

I forgot to add that I replaced the alternator twice on mine during a really rottenn run of luck last year also.

I did all the work myself and bought the van privately, none of the stuff that went in it would have been any way obvious on inspection either, it just seems that once one thing goes there's a litany of other issues to fix also.
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04-08-2020, 13:07   #13
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It's a great van and we have had some great adventures in it but It's really quite heavy on diesel to drive every day and you don't go on nearly as many trips as you'd think you would!!

Mine is a 95 2.5TD 4WD with factory kitchen cube and electric pop top
What fuel consumption are you getting I've a high top toyota hiace 2.8D and I get 12 Ltr to the 100 or about 22mpg. Basically a 55 ltr fill will get me close to 500km
Its a heavy beast with 4W drive too. I find upping the tyre pressure helps a lot.
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05-08-2020, 00:18   #14
Alkers
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It's.about the the same on the bongo, you can get a bit over 25mpg on a long 100km/hr run but motorway speed or about town will have about 20-25mpg. That's for the 2.5td
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