1994 Sambar Classic Van
What a beauty! This clean, fresh Sambar Classic Van that Japan Car Direct has shipped to the USA is a real jewel. It’s what we call in Japan an “Aisha,” a loved car. And it is the perfect second hand Kei van that is ideal for export because it is so clean, is rust free, has no dents or dings (only a very small scuff mark on the left corner of the front bumper), and has quite low kilometers (still under 50,000 miles). This is exactly the sort of vehicle that you are looking for when you decide to export a used car or truck directly from Japan.
I know that the fellow who imported this 4WD Sambar Van to the States is going to be a happy camper. I had a V-KV series Sambar Van for years. Mine was the KV3, which is the two-wheel-drive version. This Classic Van that we are shipping now is a KV4, the 4WD version of this highly capable Kei van. (By the way, the 4WD option package on this series of Sambar Van or Sambar Kei Truck adds only 40kg to the overall vehicle weight. Nice, eh?)
My Sambar Van was the Sun-Sun Roof version, and it was a doll; and a very convenient and economical car. From my own experience, let me tell you some, just some, of the best features of the Sambar: You’ve got forward control (you’re sitting over the front wheel), so you get a good view out of the cabin, and the rear and rear-side windows are big so you still have good rearward and left/right visibility even though you are seated so far forward in the body.
The body itself is big inside but small outside. Exterior dimensions are: just under 3.3 meters long, just under 1.4 meters wide, and just under 1.9 meters high. Coupled with this, the wheelbase of a V-KV series Sambar Kei Van or Kei Truck is only 1,885mm. That’s less that the wheelbase of the old Austin Mini and it gives the Sambar a very tight turning circle.
That tight turning circle, plus the compact exterior dimensions, plus the good visibility from the forward-control layout meant that me and my Sambar Van could get in and (most importantly) out of some very tight spots and narrow roads. And if you plan to import the 4-wheel-drive version of the Kei Van or Kei Truck (and we at Japan Car Direct are very happy to help you find a good example at the Japanese used car auctions, or at the used car dealers that we know here) for use off-road for hunting or camping or whatever, you’ll smile as your V-KV4 Sambar lets you slip through between the tree trunks of your favorite forest stomping grounds. If you buy a Sambar from Japan you will be amazed at this feature of the vehicle. I always appreciated it. In fact, the only reason I sold my 2WD Sambar was because I moved to the mountains here in Japan, where it can snow quite a lot, and I needed a 4WD Kei vehicle to climb up the steep, snow-covered roads to get back home. The sort of roads you need a 4WD Suzuki Jimny for. Those cars are real gems of the Kei class, too. I’ll write about them in a later post. Over the years I have had three Kei Jimnys, and once I start talking about them I’ll never shut up, so I won’t get started on them in this post. There are many really good Jimnys available in Japan these days and at good prices if you want to do a direct export yourself. Japan Car Direct has exported a number of them to the USA and Canada…..O.K., O.K., I’ll stop.
One more point I’d like to make about the Sambar Van: the internal load capacity is excellent. You fold down the back seats and you get a fully flat loading deck. Very convenient. You then tip the rear seats up again and forward against the front seats, and you get an even lower loading area in the middle of the vehicle between the two big side sliding doors. I found this to be an excellent feature of my Sambar Van because it allowed me to put heavy items there and still keep the loaded center of gravity of the whole vehicle low and stable. Another plus of the load layout of the Sambar Van was that the low center floor made it easier for older or infirm people (like my over-weight mother-in-law) to climb in and get settled in the rear seats.
So if you decide to import a used Sambar because you are looking for a practical vehicle that can also function as a people-friendly, old-folks-friendly welfare vehicle, your Sambar Van can do that for you, too. No problem.