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Transporting a Sambar

Discussion in 'Tips and Tricks' started by David Dannenberg, May 5, 2021.

  1. David Dannenberg

    David Dannenberg New Member

    Hi all. Just thought I would report on the successful transportation of my Sambar from Philadelphia to the North Country.

    I rented an open U-Haul 12x6 utility trailer with a ramp. The trailer is extremely well made and the ramp is counter balanced with a spring making it very easy to raise and lower it. It tows like a dream. (2014 Ford Flex with air bags in the coil springs). Surge brakes actuate on all four wheels and generally work seamlessly when the trailer has weight in it. When empty there is some bucking as it engages and disengages, especially when going from highway speeds to low speed, but it isn't terrible.

    There is only about an inch of clearance on each side of the Sambar at the tailgate. For this reason we loaded the truck using a come-a-long with one person in the driver's seat to steer and brake. Unloading we put someone in the driver seat to steer and brake and had a few people push it off. There were no problems, though I held my breath. I had to exit and enter the vehicle through the window.

    I fixed the Sambar using strap at each corner of the vehicle--in the rear to the loops next to the engine mount, and in front to the narrow round front member. I also put a 3x4 across the front and rear wheels, as chocks, and wedged those against the front and rear of the trailer with shorter 3x4 with braces screwed in so nothing could bounce out. The Sambar did not move in inch in 400 miles of driving.

    A few pix attached. Last picture shows it at its older brother's place where it will undergo some surgery for a physical, body lift, tires and wheels, and skid plates.

    1995 Sambar

    Attached Files:

  2. Arty

    Arty Active Member

    Wow! Good fit on the trailer.
  3. KenZ

    KenZ New Member

    Hi David, I see that you got the farmers Sambar. I'm looking for one of these now. Can you share any details on how you purchased it--auction etc. Condition, cost if you don't mind sharing. Looks like maybe you purchased it in the Us already. I may not be able to find the JA version as they don't seem to come up too often in the auctions. I'm working with Japan Car Direct. I would like to keep up with you on your upgrades as well. I hope to get one and fix it up for some off road hunting adventures out in CO.
  4. David Dannenberg

    David Dannenberg New Member

    Hi Ken,

    Been very busy so sorry for delayed response. Briefly:

    I too worked with Japan Car Direct and they were terrific. Honest, patient, helpful, fair.

    I watched the auction sheets for a long time and corresponded with Matt at JCD a lot for translation of notes on sheets of particular vehicles that looked appealing. Usually when one seems too good to be true, not surprisingly, it is. Maybe it has a 5 digit odometer that has rolled over, maybe there is no transmission...

    But now and then a winner is available; pick your price, don't try to shave to the last nickel, and have them bid. There may have been one or two that I regretted not bidding on, but overall I suggest you get a sense from JCD of the fair market price and pay it. The auction price is less than half of what I paid to get the thing bought, transported, registered, and insured. I knew this going in and am very happy with the value of my purchase. If you are super-patient you may get one for a few hundred bucks at auction that is great. Or you may not live that long. THey seem to come up in waves...no Sambars for a few weeks, then a bunch of them.
    Before sharing my costs I will say this: I wouldn't take less than $10K for the thing as it sits right now. It is clean, has less than 20,000 miles, is rust free, and so far runs great. I also have a LOT of time into the process of purchasing, transporting, registering etc. I took the risk with little recourse that it would be a pile of junk. I enjoyed that process. If you do not enjoy the process, then buy one from one of the dealers who have already brought the vehicle to North America. You may even pay less than I did. I occasionally see what look like nice ones for sale in the US for <$6K.

    My costs to date (below):
    about $4600 to my driveway including purchase price of around $1500 at auction
    around $400 for title and registration in PA
    around $400/ year insurance
    about $2K to have a Subaru expert go over it, put in 4" lift, make and install a couple of skid plates out of used road signs, and install larger wheels, tires and appropriate wheel spacers.
    So I am about $7K all in not including insurance.

    Could you do it cheaper? Maybe. What is your time worth to you and what do you enjoy doing? Beats the heck out of the cost of a side-by-side, and it is street legal. Also fun to drive.

    Hope this helps.

  5. KenZ

    KenZ New Member

    Thanks David! That's good information. I was wondering how you were going to do the skid plates. That's a big lift. I think that price is what I'm expecting or hoping for by the time I'm done which is very reasonable as I see it. I was looking at a CF Moto UForce 1000 and it would be a little over $13000 with a few accessories and no cab with heat or AC. And the Sambar would actually suit my application better.

    I agree that they seem to come up in the auctions in waves. Did you have to pay a 25% import tax? I was hoping to keep mine under $2500, as I have read there is less paperwork.

    My problem right now is the internal bidding at JCD. I just lost one last night that was a "special" with a/c and power steering that went for about $1300. I put my bid in two days ago and thought every thing was ok. I logged into the computer to check the outcome and saw I had an email from JCD that another client had outbid me by 30000 yen and did I want to raise my bid. There was no time left as it was bidding in two minutes. He sent the email about an hour earlier, but I don't sit at my computer continuously. I would have raised my bid, but therein lies another problem. This wasn't the first time someone outbid me and I outbid someone once too. Doing that leaves a lot of exposure as I have seen some of the vehicles go really low and some really high with no reason--other than maybe this internal client bidding. If you have to up your price just to outbid another client at JCD, then you may end up paying that for a vehicle. I bumped a bid on one from 300000 yen to 350000 yen and the vehicle sold for 380000 yen. This last one I had a price in at 270000 yen and another JCD client bid 300000 yen. The truck sold for 158000 yen, so I'm disappointed on that, but don't know exactly how to fight that issue.

    How long did shipping take from Japan?
  6. David Dannenberg

    David Dannenberg New Member

  7. David Dannenberg

    David Dannenberg New Member

    I just had to come home for a family emergency so I can't take pictures of the skid plates. Very simple though. They are not built to, say use as jacking points (the ones on my 4WD van are), but will deflect stones and such.

    I thought when it was suggested that 4" sounded like a lot, but in reality it is perfect. Feels great.

    I never got into a bidding conflict with any other JCD customers; I guess no one else was in the market at the time I was looking--November-December of last year. I gave them a maximum bid, and they bid up to that. If they have more than one client bidding on the same vehicle, I guess they cannot do that because from the start they would know which of them would prevail. I suppose in that case you need to watch it live. But ask JCD how to best handle it.

    I think it was about 90 days from purchase to delivery.

    I can post a few pictures from when I first picked it up up after modification.

    Attached Files:

  8. Randy Creech

    Randy Creech New Member

    Can you tell me if a Carry KC and the Sambar are the same size? I am looking to transport a Carry and the 1” clearance on the trailer is concerning.
  9. David Dannenberg

    David Dannenberg New Member

    Sorry, I don't know. Maybe ask one of the importers who sell both.


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