Like some of its Japanese counterparts, the Mazda Bongo has a history dating right back to the 1960s. You may have also heard of the Mazda Bongo as the Mazda E-Series van, or the Mazda Access. You may have even seen it with Ford badging as the Econovan. It continues today in its fifth generation (H200 chassis). Its simple yet pleasing design and reliability on the road have made it a consistent favourite among JDM importers.
As mentioned, the Bongo is currently on its fifth generation, with its predecessors coming as follows:
1st generation – 1966-1975
2nd generation – 1977-1983
3rd generation – 1983-1999
4th generation – 1999-2018
5th generation – 2019-present
Key Stats for the Mazda Bongo
(using 4th generation as example 1999-2018)
Length: 4,600mm (181.1”)
Width: 1,700mm (66.9”)
Height: 2,100mm (82.7”)
Fuel efficiency: The combined fuel efficiency for the Mazda Bongo is approximately 26mpg, making it quite efficient for a vehicle of its scale and dimension.
The Mazda Bongo began life back in 1966 as a small van with a rear engine. There was even a prototype electric version back then with a range of 60km — a testament to Japanese automotive innovation and ambition. There was also a light truck version of the Bongo made for export, typically labelled the E2000.
By the 1980s the Bongo range really started to take shape, and included great JDM additions like the Mazda Bongo Wagon and Bongo Brawny. By the 1990s they were built with more powerful 2.0L and 2.5L petrol engines, and also a 2.5L diesel engine. Top horsepower could be found in the 2.5 V6 petrol engine model, which achieved 160hp. The least powerful was the 2.0L petrol which manages 105hp.
They became popular as JDM import vehicles not only for their quality, but also because they can either be modified or have already been modified into camper vans. The Bongo, as it turns out, is an ideal candidate to install various ‘levels’ of camping readiness. It has even grown into something of a cult following. The expert modders install kitchen pods that interchange with the rear seats. That is unless buyers had already bought the Friendee model, which came with a factory-fitted kitchen already installed (see more below)
A number of different engine specifications have been available on the JDM Mazda Bongo over the years, but the most popular models have the following types:
2.5L Diesel delivering 120hp and 228lb/ft torque
2.5L V6 Petrol delivering 160hp and 155lb/ft torque
2.0L Petrol delivering 105hp and 119lb/ft torque
All the petrol models of the Bongo were 2-wheel drive, but the diesel was a 4WD. What surprises some, too is that the most powerful of the engines, the 2.5L V6 was also relatively quiet. In the Japanese market, it was the diesel variety that was most popular with drivers.
The Bongo was notable for its two distinct roof types, the AFT roof and the Tin-Top. Those who wanted a camper would go for the AFT, since for this one the roof raises up giving headroom in the vehicle. It can also raise up to give an observation tent. The Tin-Top was a solid flat roof that didn’t raise. If you were sourcing a Bongo for commercial use rather than camping, the Tin-Top would work well.
The AFT roof was available in the Mazda Bongo Friendee, which was a model sold from 1995 to 2005, also known as the Ford Freda. This version was an eight-seater MPV, so large inside. It was a prime model for camper van conversion, mostly because some cane with the factory-fitted kitchen unit, but also because it was easy to personalize and adapt to your own needs.
Mazda Bongo Campervan – Family Holidays
In the end, it’s clear why the Mazda Bongo has already established itself as a firm favourite among JDM import and campervan enthusiasts in the UK. The great British family holiday traditionally involved at least one visit to a camp site throughout the year, usually Easter and summer. The Bongo is an affordable, adaptable and reliable ally in the world of family camping.
Furthermore, the later generations packed a lot more power and punch than you might expect, while even delivering decent 26mpg fuel consumption. It’s hard to fault it for any of these facets.
JDM Mazda Bongo – It’s all about Versatility
Finally, people get the Bongo for the project. It’s a great canvas on which to work, creating a new-look MPV, a spiffing family camper or a smart commercial vehicle. Your Bongo, your rules.
If you’re looking for a Mazda Bonga, get in touch with us and learn more about our available JDM Mazda Bongo inventory.