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#1542583 - 24/06/2015 13:00 Should I go raving Bongos?
Jim_Clennell Offline
Club member 105
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16212
Loc: Corridor of Uncertainty
This is not a decision I thought I'd be faced with, but hopefully the FCCUK Massive Brains Trust can help...

MrsC & I are currently in a very happy relationship with our Mini Cooper S Clubman; it is fun, practical (so far) reliable and not desperately pricey to run.

Things are about to get complicated, however...

MrsC has been offered a job with a 50-mile-a-day round trip commute. Assuming she takes the job (using the Mini), that will leave me at home without a car, but with a stepson who needs a lift to school.

So, what second car for under £4k?

- We could look for a super-economical diesel for MrsC to commute in, leaving the Mini at home, but that would then mean we had 2 vehicles doing roughly the same job, not offering anything different.

- We could sell the Mini and buy a cheap-to-run diesel mile-eater plus a Coupé (I'm determined one day to own another). However, MrsC is very attached to the Mini and I don't think she would part with it for the sake of my passion for a potentially costly and unreliable Italian sports car.

The additional things we would like to do - but can't with the Mini - include transporting furniture (we are moving house in a month or two), carrying a lot of bulky paintings to exhibitions and taking ourselves on camping trips to watch motorsport, etc.
So, putting these things together, I keep coming back to the one vehicle I never thought I'd own in a million years:

The Mazda Bongo Frendee.

I remember when this won a prize as the world's most ridiculously-named vehicle - for good reason.
But, if you look more closely, it is actually very hard to find anything as versatile for the same price. VWs are way more cool, but look at the prices!
I wouldn't want a camper-van/motorhome conversion, just the standard 8-seater (2-3-3) layout. The back 2 rows of seats turn into a pretty decent sized double bed, or you can fold them away/remove them and have a van.
As a grey import it is obviously a bit of a gamble, but the strengths and weaknesses are pretty well-known now.

So, the question is, if we want something with the Bongo flexibility (and without going down the Chevy Astro route again), what else is there? Standard MPV's aren't big enough to sleep in, vans are unpleasant to sleep in unless converted and a full-on camper van costs significantly more and is a great deal bigger.

Give me your sub £4k recommendations!
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#1542584 - 24/06/2015 13:06 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Nigel Offline
Club member 123
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16843
Loc: Staffordshire
Mitsubishi Delica?
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#1542586 - 24/06/2015 13:14 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
one4seven Offline
Enjoying the ride

Registered: 14/06/2013
Posts: 851
Loc: East Anglia
Just buy a Coupe for the school run. If you've got 4k to drop on another car, surely running the Mini 50 miles a day doesn't matter that much...
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Ollie

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#1542588 - 24/06/2015 13:31 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Jim_Clennell Offline
Club member 105
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16212
Loc: Corridor of Uncertainty
I think the Delica is a bit rugged for our needs, but if the price was right...

one4seven: I think the Mini will end up being the commuter; the problem is that a coupé (whilst being fab, etc.) wouldn't offer the van-like attributes that a Bongo (or other contender) provides. I've tried sleeping in a Coupé and it wasn't fun. At all.

And the £4k budget may well end up halved...


Edited by Jim_Clennell (24/06/2015 13:32)
Edit Reason: Delica, not Celica!
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#1542598 - 24/06/2015 14:52 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Nigel Offline
Club member 123
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16843
Loc: Staffordshire
How about a Multipla, with a Coupe engine conversion? - ticks (almost) all the boxes... wink
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#1542601 - 24/06/2015 15:04 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Jim_Clennell Offline
Club member 105
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16212
Loc: Corridor of Uncertainty
Nice idea, Nigel, though I'd have to remove my legs to sleep in a Multipla.

Could I stick a 20VT engine in a Bongo? A Bongé, if you will...
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Jaaaag!

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#1542602 - 24/06/2015 15:08 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Nigel]
Paul_V Offline
My life on the forum

Registered: 25/11/2006
Posts: 1995
Loc: Costa Del Sawley
Just be aware if you get a Bongo then expect frequent trips to the petrol station (diesel or petrol).

Great things to drive and very versatile but the economy is dire. Perhaps the only black mark (apart from rust) against them.

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#1542606 - 24/06/2015 15:29 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
one4seven Offline
Enjoying the ride

Registered: 14/06/2013
Posts: 851
Loc: East Anglia
Sorry Jim, I totally missed the "other things we'd like to do, but can't, with the mini" section of your OP.

To revise my advice.

click to enlarge

+

click to enlarge
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Ollie

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#1542612 - 24/06/2015 16:28 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Gripped Offline
Club member 1144
I need some sleep

Registered: 20/12/2005
Posts: 3016
Loc: S. Wales. Way beyond my means
Hurrah !

I have the rare pleasure of owning both a Coupe and a Bongo.
We have the camper conversion 2.5 TD, 1996 vintage, owned since about 2010.

Campers have a significant increased value of c.£4k over a standard one.
You should be able to get a reasonably good one for £4k. Our camper was £8.5 in 2010.
New camper conversions are around £11 - £14k. Non campers from £3 - £5k depending on age.

Positives:
- Nice to drive and very comfy, lofty to see over hedges.
- LOADS cheaper than a VW equivalent.
- Most are auto boxes, but this suits the cruising style of drive.
- will run happily on veg oil straight from Asda.
- There is an LPG conversion available for the 2.5 V6 petrol.
- ANYTHING you need to know is on BongoFury website
http://www.igmaynard.co.uk/bongo/news.htm
They even sell most parts you need.
- Old tech. Easy to work on. Did the cambelt and valve clearances myself no probs.
- 4 wheel drive and 2 wheel drive versions to choose from.
- Very versatile as a camper or people carrier. You can turn the rear seats into a big bed, with the help of a mattress topper.
- Good for towing. Many use them to tow caravans. We use ours to tow trailers of wood for our fire.
- Great for trips to B&Q
- Electric everthing, and generally reliable.
- Facelift models look nicer, but are the same underneath.
- Electric pop up roof can be slept in. Ceiling can move to provide standing room.

Negatives:
- Old Tech. Not great on fuel. Diesel is about 26-30mpg. But the VW transporter 2.5 TDi will perhaps be 35mpg. So not a huge improvement.
- They are tall, so cornering needs to be a sedate affair.
- Mid engine can be prone to overheating if one of many pipes ruptures. Luckily there are low coolant alarms available through the club.
- Rust can be an issue mainly over rear wheel arches, but I don't think they are any worse than any other vehicle of the same age. Again, replacement parts can be sourced.
- They are getting long in the tooth and are not made any more.... but there are loads of parts about. You can expect to do some tinkering on the older ones, just like with the Coupe.
- Coolant change involves a special bleed process. But there are guides and video on youtube on this.

any questions - let me know ! smile

click to enlarge


Edited by Gripped (24/06/2015 16:41)
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#1542658 - 24/06/2015 21:02 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Jimbo Offline
Je suis un Coupé

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 9702
Loc: Gone
Is that a first edition Bongo postage stamp?

It's quite a small picture.

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#1542659 - 24/06/2015 21:04 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
coupedummy Offline
Club member 1341
Je suis un Coupé

Registered: 25/09/2006
Posts: 8934
Loc: west bromwich
If I had the room, I would of had the bongo already. Been looking at these and the practicality and don't think anything gets near to be honest for the value


Edited by coupedummy (24/06/2015 21:04)
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#1542667 - 24/06/2015 21:17 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jimbo]
Gripped Offline
Club member 1144
I need some sleep

Registered: 20/12/2005
Posts: 3016
Loc: S. Wales. Way beyond my means
Originally Posted By: Jimbo
Is that a first edition Bongo postage stamp?

It's quite a small picture.


It is I'm afraid, but you can zoom in.
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#1542709 - 25/06/2015 00:27 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
jimbob13 Offline
Club member 908
I need some sleep

Registered: 15/08/2011
Posts: 2595
Loc: angus, scotland
I'm currently looking at a baffling array of Nissan Elgrands as a replacement for my Astro. Seem to be very well specced and versatile buses. Could be another possible contender for you Jim?
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#1542711 - 25/06/2015 00:30 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Notlob Offline
Discoverer

Registered: 21/12/2014
Posts: 41
Loc: Merseyside
I too am a Coupe and Bongo owner amongst other vehicles and can echo everything above and say it's the most versatile vehicle I've owned.

Last weekend had the seats out moving 3 seater and 2 seater sofas, midweek back to normal for school and dog walking run and this week will be sleeping in it at Bongo Bash 2015! Yes not only are there Coupe meets but there are also Bongo meets

If you are anywhere near Stourport on Severn this weekend there will be 200 of them meeting

Definitley need coolant alarm though!

Cheers
Dave


Edited by Notlob (25/06/2015 00:31)

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#1542757 - 25/06/2015 10:24 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Jim_Clennell Offline
Club member 105
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16212
Loc: Corridor of Uncertainty
Well, the consensus seems to be - as I thought - that the Bongo is a hugely versatile and practical vehicle.

The problem is that in line with the current vogue for austerity, it seems that our budget is actually closer to £2k, not 4 and I really fear that it would be too much of a gamble to take on a Bongo at such a price point.

Very sadly, I think I'll have to shelve the idea - but my Bongo yearning lives on! I love the fact that there are 2 Coupé/Bongo owners - it seems somehow apt.

Now I've got to find something interesting with a decent load area for £2k (I'm looking at this...)
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Jaaaag!

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#1542776 - 25/06/2015 11:28 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
bezzer Offline
Forum is my life

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 5862
Loc: 2011 and 2015 FCCUK F1 Champ.
Originally Posted By: Jim_Clennell

Now I've got to find something interesting with a decent load area for £2k (I'm looking at this...)


High miles but still looks in pretty good nick. Out of interest, how many miles did your Merc barge have on the clock Jim?
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......My Boy...... (PB #7)

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#1542785 - 25/06/2015 12:21 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Jim_Clennell Offline
Club member 105
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16212
Loc: Corridor of Uncertainty
Apart from a few high-mileage turbo issues, nobody seems to have a bad word to say about the Honda and for some reason I've always rather liked the aero-look shape. Other possible candidates are a Mondeo estate or an Alfa 156 Sportwagon. Please feel free to add to the list. Note: German premium marques have been banned by MrsC due to cost of inevitable repairs.

bezzer, the Merc had 214k miles when we bought it; it was ideal for the job in hand, but it was pretty much Hobson's choice at the time. The reason we sold it for the Mini was the £4k+ of repairs it needed!
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Jaaaag!

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#1542827 - 25/06/2015 21:04 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
oxfordSteve Offline
Forum is my job

Registered: 16/12/2006
Posts: 3909
Loc: The Faringdon Folly
If you are wedded to something Japanese and 2.5TD and massively poor mpg, you could go down the Pajero route.

I had one waaaaay back, and occasionaly through the owners group or ebay, they had all these JDM extra bits, like factory-fit curtain sets, and these weird bed things that you could drop in the back in place of the third row of seats etc which always looked pretty cool.

Smoked like a bitch though, and filling an 85L tank was pretty painful.
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#1542855 - 25/06/2015 23:32 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
sugerbear Offline
Je suis un Coupé

Registered: 17/12/2005
Posts: 7667
Loc: Peterb'gh, Ipswich and Braintr...
Originally Posted By: Jim_Clennell
Apart from a few high-mileage turbo issues, nobody seems to have a bad word to say about the Honda and for some reason I've always rather liked the aero-look shape. Other possible candidates are a Mondeo estate or an Alfa 156 Sportwagon. Please feel free to add to the list. Note: German premium marques have been banned by MrsC due to cost of inevitable repairs.



Well I bought a 2005 Mondeo ST TDI 155 back in March (son loves to called it the Mondeo STD!). I only wanted a car that would get me through a few months then I was going to chop it in for something newer. Someone at work suggested it and there was one locally for not many pennies.

The problem I now I have purchased it I love the bloody thing!

It's quick, reliable (chain cam on the one I have) and ,after the garage fixed all the niggly faults they missed when they sold it (they are an official ford , dealer poor service - long story), it has been an utterly reliable and super comfortable mile muncher for my weekly 180 mile round trek up the M11. 50+ mpg quite easy even when I am hustling it along. I had the misfortune of owning a peugeot previously and it is light and day away from that. It's much better put together than the VW's I have owned.

My only regret is not buying the estate, but good, low mileage, well serviced ones are few and far between. I would go for a titanium x if you want something a bit more comfortable as the ST's have large rims / skinny tyres. Even the hatchback has a massive boot area but the practicality of the estate would be even better.

Buy the Alfa if you want to spend your life at the side of the motorway smile
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#1610956 - 03/11/2017 17:58 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Submariner Offline
Enjoying the ride

Registered: 20/12/2005
Posts: 1146
Loc: Kent
Picking my Bongo up tomorrow 02 plate facelift 38,000m, no tin worm, tin top with an outback conversion....going to use it for accommodation for wild camping trips up north and biking.

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#1610967 - 03/11/2017 21:53 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Gripped Offline
Club member 1144
I need some sleep

Registered: 20/12/2005
Posts: 3016
Loc: S. Wales. Way beyond my means
Welcome to Bongoland Sub. I love mine.

Did you go diesel or petrol?
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#1610980 - 04/11/2017 06:09 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Submariner Offline
Enjoying the ride

Registered: 20/12/2005
Posts: 1146
Loc: Kent
I've gone for petrol I wasn't that fussed but the one that came up for sale nearby was a petrol...I guess I was more concerned about the mileage and condition and type of conversion; I wanted the full size bed. Seller is 'upgrading' to a T5...he told me with the 4 of them it was for him just a tad too small. Been umming for a few years hence the thread resurrection. I see you've had yours for a while...I would like to tap into your knowledge in the next few days.

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#1610996 - 04/11/2017 13:44 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Gripped Offline
Club member 1144
I need some sleep

Registered: 20/12/2005
Posts: 3016
Loc: S. Wales. Way beyond my means
You're welcome to mate. PM me and I'll give you my email address etc.

Is it the 2 litre or 2.5 V6?
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#1611028 - 05/11/2017 00:24 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
coupedummy Offline
Club member 1341
Je suis un Coupé

Registered: 25/09/2006
Posts: 8934
Loc: west bromwich
Another bongo basher. We have a 2.5td 4wd auto. Thirsty but cool
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#1611033 - 05/11/2017 09:09 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Gripped Offline
Club member 1144
I need some sleep

Registered: 20/12/2005
Posts: 3016
Loc: S. Wales. Way beyond my means
I've always fancied the 4WD for a bit of off road action, but our diesel is 2WD. So I've fitted a limited slip diff to the rear axle ! Drift tastic (not)

wink
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#1611504 - 13/11/2017 21:48 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
liam_gill Offline
Making a profit

Registered: 01/10/2009
Posts: 264
Loc: berkshire england
i used to work on bongos look out for rust. water pipes that run under the car rust and when motor overheats its quite common to crack the cylinder head that's the diesel engine


Edited by liam_gill (13/11/2017 22:35)

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#1611508 - 13/11/2017 23:22 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Gripped Offline
Club member 1144
I need some sleep

Registered: 20/12/2005
Posts: 3016
Loc: S. Wales. Way beyond my means
Yep, like the Coupe, Bongo's have their achilles heels, but they are pretty reliable beasts and are very easy to work on. The rear wheel arches, front cross member and a couple of points on the sills are the usual spots. Oh, and yes, the metal coolant pipes in particular.

I fitted an "engine saver" I think invented in Australia for when you REALLY cannot afford to breakdown in the middle of the outback. All it is, is a coolant level sensor to give you early warning of a pipe split before you overheat.

Ours is 20 years old and I would say they hold up to age better than a Coupe in general. Many owners consider rear arch replacement as a given. Mine need doing at some point. I suppose no different to running an old air cooled VW camper. Except Bongo's are considerably faster !



Edited by Gripped (13/11/2017 23:23)
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#1611617 - 16/11/2017 05:44 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Gripped]
Possum Offline
My life on the forum

Registered: 19/12/2005
Posts: 1535
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
Originally Posted By Gripped


I fitted an "engine saver" I think invented in Australia for when you REALLY cannot afford to breakdown in the middle of the outback. All it is, is a coolant level sensor to give you early warning of a pipe split before you overheat.


Many years ago when I was playing "rally cars" in the outback, we fitted one to our radiator, and then rigged it up to an audible alarm and an "idiot light". Thankfully, it never came on.

Once we bent our bull bar by hitting a tree, but no alarms or red lights so we backed off, kept going and clean-sheeted the section. Had to pull the bar off the bonnet to open it though.

In the late Eighties, Fiat fitted a low water alarm to the Croma as standard.

I must be old as I remember when Bongos were small boxes, not unlike a Fiat 900T van.

Here is the link http://www.enginesaver.com.au/ and they have both inline and "drill the top tank" type.
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#1611673 - 16/11/2017 19:40 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Gripped Offline
Club member 1144
I need some sleep

Registered: 20/12/2005
Posts: 3016
Loc: S. Wales. Way beyond my means
Good effort Possum. Mine is an older Enginesaver TM2, which has a sensor for the coolant, and a temp sensor on the engine block which you can pre-set. Belt and braces !
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#1611674 - 16/11/2017 19:44 Re: Should I go raving Bongos? [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Submariner Offline
Enjoying the ride

Registered: 20/12/2005
Posts: 1146
Loc: Kent
I have just spent a wad on my newly acquired 2002 tin top Bongo it has 40k miles from new and is in excellent condition so had the underseal redone and waxoyled the front bay and inside front and rear wings etc.

Installed 12v split charging with leisure battery and a concealed 240v hookup. USB sockets, power sockets and a cool strip led light under the lip of the kitchenette worktop with dimming function. Coolant alarm also fitted.

With seats down it has a full size bed with covered memory foam mattress toppers reflective window blinds all round and have had the panels off and heat/sound insulated the van. Previous owner fitted a swivelling middle seat which is handy. Considering swivel front seats but not sure they will be practical or used much as conversion is 'outback'

Yet to use the bloody thing for a day out! Still needs an eberspacher, will plumb that in via the engine bay under the seats with the heat nozzle in the sliding door footwell.


Edited by Submariner (16/11/2017 19:47)

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