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Date Posted: 01/ 13/ 02, 10:23am
As an owner of a '77 FC for four years, I can say that your observations are correct to a degree. I just bought new Michelin XZA2 tires (their top-of-the-line, 7year/700,000mile warranty) for my coach, $350ea mounted/balanced, not $500 (shop around), and cheap tires (not recommended) are less money.
Many repairs are expensive, look carefully before you buy to prevent needing these expensive repairs (3 furnaces for instance, 3 possibilities for repairs).
I spent around $10k on mine after the purchase, which included replacing every cushion, all carpets and pads, drapes/blinds, all foam and fabric, engine insulation, new inverter/charger, stripes, wheels, weatherstripping/seals, stereo, 2 TV/VCRs, sheets/bedspreads, filters, fluids, swing radiator, lights, CB, and many other things that don't come to mind at this time to update it to our liking. This has kept the coach running almost flawlessly for the past 4years/30,000miles, although I still work and my family (of 6) travels in the coach, we don't full-time. I really went overboard and updated anything that I wanted, but in contrast to my friends who bought a new Winnie at the same time, I spent less in my upgrade than his coach depreciated in the first year, (and same for subsequent years), my maintenance is less, mileage better, and I can drive on windy days when his coach can't stay in its lane. I'm also much, much safer in my all-steel 34,000lb coach than he is in his "sticks-n-staples" motorhome.
The depreciation curve has pretty much ended in a vintage 'Bird, all you lose is wear and tear, and maintenance. Value depends more on condition/appearance/features at this point.
Last, I have lurked for 4-5years on www.rvamerica.com and other common RV sites to hear many complaints and concerns that owners of disposable motorhomes have. Many of those concerns aren't applicable to a vintage bird. The concerns about delamination, body sag, overloaded chassis, overburdened drivelines, crosswind sensitivity, parts availability, etc. The Wanderlodge is, and always has been built for the long haul, its chassis components are available at any truck service center. Its interior components also are sturdy, solid walls and cabinetry etc. vs. the common 1/8" thick walls and cheap fixtures of the disposable units Many of those units are just beginning to install 50a service, and most of those are really only 30a+20a and not true 50a+50a like a BlueBird.
The cost of owning any used unit will be higher as there is no warranty. Those lucky owners of new stick-built units who are not trying to return them under the lemon law (read owner reviews on the same site) are enjoying the few months of low cash outlay. For any purchase of a used motorhome I would budget a cash reserve for repairs which could conceivably be $2000 or more (the cost to rebuild the FC's transmission is not far from the cost of rebuilding the transmission on a common gas motorhome). This might never be necessary, but like a house or car, you never know and the stress level is much lower if you have planned for this possibility (just like you buy insurance).
I would never go back to a stick-built RV, neither would my family. I have had more care-free miles, interested passers-by, complements, friendly service and help from owners and from BlueBird, than I ever could have imagined when a Holiday Rambler (S.O.B.) owner. As another post mentioned, shop carefully, ask questions, and you will probably be very happy (and able to sell without losing your shirt if you aren't).
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