Why We Chose the Toyota Liteace 1.8 Premio

“In our journey towards minimalism and full time travel, every decision we make is crucial towards living on purpose. “

When we first began hunting for a travel rig, our initial plan was to find a second hand 4×4 truck and build a customised camper cabin through a company. However, after in depth research towards this, we decided against it.

There were too many factors that were beyond our control, for example –

  • We didn’t own an existing 4 x 4 Truck, that meant we had to purchase one.
  • 4 x 4 Trucks have a higher maintenance cost overall in comparison to a small van.
  • Camper Truck Cabins need to be approved by local authorities before it can be mounted onto a truck and although it is possible, we didn’t have the time to proceed.
  • The Cabin manufacturer’s order minimum requirement is 5 units. This meant having to wait for orders to accumulate before we could start.
  • There would also be a 30% import duty cost and shipping cost involved.
  • The estimated time we would have to spend for all the above is 6 months to a year (maybe more).
  • The minimum cost would be around Rm150,000.00 (USD40,000.00).

Rene and I had to redefine our goals. If we were to spend that amount of money, we needed the money to go towards the actual expense of travel and not just towards building a travel rig. The alternative option we had was to build our own RV by converting a van into a campervan.

Although in my previous posts I spoke about the local road council regulations for van conversions being illegal, there are ways to abide by the rules and we just needed to follow them. A van conversion meant some DIY work but at least it would provide us more control of money spent and our precious time.

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Here is the list we then made of what was truly important to us.

  1. A JAPANESE  SECOND HAND VAN
  2. BUILT TO LAST IN TERMS OF DURABILITY & RELIABILITY
  3. SPARE PARTS IN ABUNDANCE
  4. EASY TO DIY CONVERT INTO A CAMPERVAN (without removing seats)
  5. EASY TO MANEUVER ON NARROW ROADS
  6. THE RIGHT SIZE IN TERMS OF HEIGHT, WIDTH & LENGTH
  7. VERY AFFORDABLE, CHEAP EVEN
  8. RETRO, VINTAGE OR A CLASSIC COLLECTABLE
  9. ENGINE CHANGE, IF WE NEEDED TO THE TOYOTA UNSER ENGINE CAN FIT INTO THE TOYOTA LITEACE

After spending several painful weeks of searching, I began wondering if we would ever find what we wanted. So many vans are used as work horses here in Malaysia and hardly any for recreation. Most of what we found were in such a terrible state that I began questioning our decision again. All we were hoping for was some good vehicle karma to come our way since as car owners we love and take such good care of our vehicles.

Just when we were losing all hope, a Toyota Liteace van popped up for sale in Mudah and we knew at once that it was the one! We went to view it and from that day forth I made it my mission to convince the owner that he needed to sell US his van and not to anyone else!! We had found a gem of a van that met ALL of our requirements! It was the most well cared for van we had ever seen, a single owner vehicle with a service history in Toyota UMW. It was well maintained from the day it was built!  #PatienceIsAVirtue

If you are thinking about building yourself a recreational vehicle and don’t know where to begin, we hope you find our shared journey useful. Please leave us a comment if you have any questions about this topic, we will gladly respond.

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4 comments

  1. Good stuffs, going places, minimalist, simple living and quality of life 🙂

    Not to bad if you guys opted for ‘fourby’, although may seems to be higher maintenance, but is kind of break-even when you have longer service life on the parts (not forgetting most 4×4 are diesel and you could get further with the same amount of fuel). If you really do, go for a second hand with a simple engine like the liteace to be cost effective. When you go further, fuel quality drops after Thailand and it is bad for newer engines (you need loads of oil filter, DPF maintenance in the newer ones too). Other benefits includes going more places, hauling more, self recovery and at the same time tougher against petty damages. Most certainly you will spent plenty of time on the road where some kind of protection from the 1 or 2 tonner 🙂 will helps from the other errant drivers you meet daily.

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    • Hi Kritz, totally agree with you about a fourby. I wouldn’t want a truck though, I feel the bulk is wasted space. Would love a fourby Van!! That’s the ultimate for us but as we said our budget for now is VANHALEN. 🙂 Time to get started with the journey. In this Van Life the first rig will never be your last and to start is with what you got is most important. Hopefully, within a couple of years we be able to get the fourby Van and by then we would also have learned a lot more about overland travel. 🙂 🙂 Without the fourby we can’t access a lot of wonderful off road locations deep inside the jungle etc. Next time. 🙂 Thank you for your feed back – very valid.

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      • Yes sir, not all fourbies are truck; a general misconception. 4×4 is something that completes with a low range gear and two/four wheel drive option (although some permanently four) and center diff locking to get out of trouble.

        It is a great journey to freedom, keep posting, taking great pix & video, and most importantly freely live. Possibly you can along the way seek someone to convert VANHALEN (sometimes sentimental play with our feelings 😉 ) to a 4×4 driveline (many good stuffs, experienced and low priced in Thailand)

        You guys are great

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