At our local Cars and Coffee, we get the usual menagerie of funky Miatas, lifted trucks, and the occasional Ferrari or Lamboghini. But this past weekend, one vehicle caught more attention than the red Ferrari 488 parked a few feet away, and it was a minivan. Parked between the Porsches and Challengers was a 1997 Japanese Elgrand Caravan, narrow and tall, pearl white. Not only was the steering wheel on the wrong side, but there was a for sale sign on the windshield and a huge crowd.
What is a JDM Van?
So of course I called the number on the sign. Here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we see some JDM, or Japanese Domestic Market, right hand drive cars. There are a few Mitsubishi Delica 4×4 vans around the city. But no one in this Cars and Coffee had ever seen a Nissan Caravan Elgrand. The owner of the van, Oliver Tan, is also super happy to talk about the van.
or his Mitsubishi Montero, which he had a die-cast toy version of as a child. The Nissan Caravan Elgrand is a Japanese 4×4 van, sometimes called a panel van, for the Japanese domestic market. Tan’s 1997 Elgrand Caravan is a rare first year version of the seven passenger Elgrand van. They were sold in premium stores in Japan and had a premium price and features.
The regular Elgrand, unnamed Caravan, was the simple version. This one in particular has all the options you’d order in 1997, including remote-controlled TV in the ceiling, a chunky little navigation screen, and a motorized awning that circles the entire rear half of the van. It also has seats on rails that can rotate 360 degrees, then fold out into a bed that sleeps two. The rear air conditioning is controlled by a remote control.
This one also has a rare all-wheel drive system. The driver can select the mode and even lock the center differential. Underneath the Elgrand is a 1990s Infiniti QX4, so it’s sturdy. Tan said he used the all-wheel drive in the van for snowboarding trips but decided it was too good to get muddy. Like the QX4, it has a 3.3-liter V6 that it claims only had 170 horsepower, which was probably potent for 1997, but doesn’t cut it in today’s traffic.
“It was so clean, I didn’t want to mess it up,” she said. So, he rides his vintage Montero the same way for snowboarding instead.
How much does a JDM 4×4 van cost?
Tan said he got the van last year, “But I don’t haul a lot of stuff or haul seven people,” he said, so he’s going to sell it and move away. Her heart is set on a Japanese station wagon, like a Nissan Staega, from the same era. He’s a Nissan guy and most of his cars and vans have been Nissan. This is on sale locally for $14,500. It has 77,000km on the clock, or about 50,000 miles.
In case you were wondering: This van has a clean current title and is registered. Tan said the local DMV was fine with registering her van. But, she said, you need the (which she has) to register it.