The Mazda Bongo: A Crazy Camper Van

The Mazda Bongo goes by a few other names including the Mazda E Series and the Mazda Access. The latest model of this camper van is the Mazda Bongo Friendee which was introduced in 1995. These campers are manufactured in Japan and are imported into the UK as pre-owned or used vehicles.

These campers have somewhat of a cult following and most people buy them from specialist dealers. Bongo’s even have their own fan club! The range of models goes from eight seater MPV’s through to fully fitted out camper vans. Very few other campers have the appeal of the Mazda Bongo. It can also be used as everyday transport which will seat up to eight people.

The history of the Bongo

Manufactured in Japan for the domestic market nearly 20 years ago, the Bongo is actually virtually the same vehicle as the Ford Freda, owing to the fact that Mazda and Ford are branches of the same company.

As they are not brought in to the UK in new condition, they are something of an imports enigma and as such Mazda tries not to have much to do with British versions of the camper, but they are very popular nonetheless.

Inside the camper

The seats fold back to enable luggage to be stowed. The extendable top roof allows the vehicle to be used as a camper van and the roof is fully automatic so is opened at the touch of a switch. There are diesel and petrol engines available with the option of automatic transmission or manual gears. In modern models there is also air conditioning in the front and rear as well as electronic blinds.

Engine performance

The Mazda Bongo has a 2.5 litre turbo diesel engine option which is the same as the one in the Ford Ranger. Also available are 2.5 litre and 2.0 litre petrol engines. Other options include rear wheel drive or permanent all wheel drive. Some of the models have a fitted kitchen and on some versions the roof opens up which allows room for two people to sleep in that space.

The engine is placed in mid vehicle so neither the passenger or driver’s seat will move. Standard configuration inside is two front seats, three middle seats and room for a further three on a bench seat in the rear. This rear bench will split into two parts and is on a sliding rail.

The end of the line…

These popular imports have been sold all over Britain but sadly as the factory has now burnt down there will no longer be any new models being built. Nevertheless, the camper has some enthusiastic fans and following demand companies like My Car Mats still stock accessories like car mats and seat covers that will fit in the front cab of the Bongo.

Buying a Bongo

Despite the cease in production, the burning down of the factory that builds them and the grey area in which imports of the camper reside, the Mazda Bongo can still be bought second hand in the UK from most of the main car dealership websites where people list their own vehicles

The Mazda Bongo can still be bought, as well as tailor made accessories from floor mat supplier My Car Mats. Follow them on Twitter for the latest deals @MyCarMats.