There’s so much to love about today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Lite Ace camper that you’ll probably even overlook that it’s a right-hooker. Let’s see if its price is easily overlooked as well.
When Audi moved the S4 badge to the smaller B5 platform but didn’t lower its price, nobody even batted an eye. That was then and this is now, and last Friday, nearly everybody lost their minds over the price tag on our 2001 Audi S4. I think the amount of blue on the interior probably helped too. In the end, that smaller car came up short, garnering a 70% Crack Pipe loss for its twelve grand price.
Now, for around the same cash as that uni-tasker Audi, you could get this 1990 Toyota Lite Ace Camper Mate that’s like a freaking Swiss Army Knife on wheels.
This camper is based on the R20/R30 Lite Ace, a derivation of which we received here in the U.S. as Toyota’s tepid entry into the then emerging minivan market. Often derided as the “Space Wart” because of its styling, and dunned for being tippier than a canoe and Tyler too, the Toyota Van was nothing like this grey market import camper.
What’s going on here? Well, this camper has almost all the comforts of home, especially if that home is a double-wide. That’s because once you stop for the night you can pop its slide-out side out, gaining enough room for a round of naked Twister.
There’s also a shower, a fridge, and a sink— the latter set in a natty faux brick counter—as well as sleeping accommodations. The only thing missing here is a place to drop a log. You do get a Nardi steering wheel to draw your attention away from that butt-clenching omission, however.
It has a rear door too, one that unfortunately faces the street, so remember to look both ways before getting out! There’s a selfie stick mirror on the off-side front corner, and tinted glass in the back to keep your business from becoming other people’s business.
All that is wicked cool, but it’s the mechanicals that you might find even more intriguing. There’s a 2-litre diesel four in the doghouse. That’s good for a modest 73-horsepower and 97 lb-ft of torque, which means it should serve as a reminder that the journey is as important as the destination.
Cooler than that oil-burner though, is the gearbox channeling the mouse fart’s-worth of power to all four wheels. That’s a five speed which isn’t all that unique, but which is operated by a “five on the tree” gear shift which is. Surely you’ve heard of three on the tree, but five? I know, mind blown. Also, I promise I won’t call you Shirley.
Overall, the camper seems in serviceable shape, and the outside seems particularly well preserved for its age. It’s also about as professional a conversion as you might find, excluding that brick formica inside.
The dealer offering the camper says it was imported from Japan and appears to be selling it on consignment from the current owner. There’s 52,000 miles (82,435 kilometers) on the clock, and the title status is listed as clean. Where did it come from? Well, it looks like it’s this one that was brought into Vancouver Canada back in 2008. It has apparently made its down to Portland since then, at least that’s where the dealer is located.
Is it perfect? No, there’s some wear and tear on the inside, and the engine compartment looks like it’s been through a flood or has had a hose blow. Then there’s the whole never-intended-to-be-sold-here issue which means it’s RHD and carries metric system gauges. But hell, the overall awesomeness of a diesel-powered 4X4 tiny camper with five on the tree and a windshield washer bottle that you can check the level of from inside the car might just outweigh all that.
Well, at least it might make up for a plethora of sins. One thing though, anybody in California will have a bad time trying to register this thing down there because they dance to a different tune than the Feds when it comes to cars newer than 1975.
But for the rest of you, what’s the verdict on this Camp Mate and its $12,450 price? Does that seem like a fair price to have this Ace up your sleeve? Or, is that way too much for so odd a duck?
H/T to Bill Myers for the hookup!
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