The Bongo Friendee is the most oddly named ’van in Britain. It is a grey import, never having been sold outside Japan where it was made until 2000 (so, any model you buy will be used).

Most Bongos are automatics. The reason these diminutive vehicles have flooded the British market in recent years is that they convert to well-specified, affordable campers at a lower price than VW-based alternatives. The 1996 model we tested has a full camper conversion from Wellhouse Leisure, which adds £4500 to the price. So despite the vehicle itself being a used model, the conversion is brand new. Given its size, it is best to think of the Bongo as an MPV that can double as a camper – in fact, in its pre-converted state it’s a six-seater with two rows of seats that fold down to make a bed. Several UK converters offer differing floorplans, although some buyers prefer to keep the original seats. We recommend joining the owners club, if only for the access to useful parts and services information it provides: go to the website at

Plus: See our Mazda Bongo Friendee Buyer’s Guide:

Mazda Bongo Camper – Buyer’s Guide