Monday, May 3, 2010

My Tortured Life

It's like when we're searching for a new apartment or for our first house, or when we're anxiously mining the Sunday classifieds for that exact model of camera week after week, only to watch it slip right through our fingers because we didn't get to the phone in time, or because we were short on cash, or were outbid on ebay. 

We're devastated.  "That was the one," we say.  "I'll never find another."  I can't tell you how many times that's happened to me.  And, sure enough, it's happened, again.  I'd found the perfect van so many times over that I think my ups and downs will soon get the best of me. 

I need to chill out. 

Today's found-then-lost vehicle.

It's a turbo diesel with only 82,000 miles (nothing for a diesel), a 12 foot box (exactly what I need) and is super tall.  At 6' I need to be careful what I buy, otherwise I'll have to sit down in the shower which would be a major bummer and something I really don't want to have to do.  My shower pan design is shallow, but it still needs some height to be effective at routing water.  And, with an insulated roof, those precious inches above and below begin to close in pretty darned fast. 

This is truly rare.  And, it's a Freightliner -- very TOUGH. 

The floor is solid oak and can be resurfaced to a luxe finish that would certainly rival any downtown loft. 

With my ceiling spot lights and dark wood cabinetry this thing would be the Ultimate Roving Home, indeed! 

So, now the rub...

The van is located in New London, Connecticut.  And, the guy wants $6,000.  Tack on $400 for air fare, $1,200 in fuel plus lodging, food, etc, just to get it back to the west coast and I'm looking at nearly $8,000 without putting a penny into the build.  No can do. 

But I was tempted.  This is the only vehicle I've seen within the length I need that also has the height.  Add a killer fat black rugged roof rack for the solar panels, paint it a cool lifeguard yellow, add some stainless steel doors to access the electrical panel and the folding bicycle drawer and this thing would rival any sportsmobile on the road, minus the gigantic price tag. 

But, I really need to keep the vehicle purchase under $5,000.  I was fantasizing, for quite some time, that I'd be able to get something suitable for $3,000, but now I'm not so sure.  With all of the time and energy I'm investing into this project, not to mention the money, I really can't sell myself short by placing an awesome living environment onto a substandard foundation.  So, $5,000 is my new price range.

--Another added allure --

Some friends of mine here in L.A. who have been keeping up on my shenanigans have entertained the notion of owning one of these for themselves -- pending an open house of the guinea pig, of course.  Now, that's a fun concept to kick around in my brain.  

But, then again, talk is cheap....One never knows. 


  1. We just finished going through that a million times with (fully constructed) motorhomes. Every time we saw the perfect one it seemed like we spent too much time wavering and discussing it, and then when we would call the owner to start asking our huge list of questions we would get an "Oh, it sold this morning." But we found the right one yesterday, which makes me pretty confident that you will find the right one as well. Here's to hoping it's a short wait!

  2. And the funny thing is, no matter what transpires, prior to the purchase, we do always seem to land the perfect one, in the end. I'm glad you've found yours. Thanks for the good wishes.

  3. I say go for it. It's only $3k more, and you'll easily save that much in 2 or 3 months of mobile living.

  4. That is a very good point. Unfortunately, I really don't have the time to take away from work, right now, and someone already snatched it up on ebay. But, since discovering the Freightliner, my direction is now focused.

  5. Sorry to read you missed it Rob! That really would have been a good base! Something will show up that is better I am sure. Always seems to work that way for me anyway. You know, I passed up several really good deals when I was looking that would have worked very well, but they weren't the "right deal" and I could feel it. Your right deal will show up at the right time, just hang tough. I also think it is smart to not cap that range too tight. Like Glenn said, you will gain it back in savings pretty quick.

    -Mike & Heidi
    97 Roadtrek 170P "Taj Ma Trek"

  6. Ohhh Man..I am sorry! I am in the process of looking for a van myself..Heidi is right though.. everything will work out and the right one WILL coe along! Good luck brother!

  7. Ahem...You mean Mike is right :)

    -Mike & Heidi(but really just mike typing)
    97 Roadtrek 170P "Taj Ma Trek"

  8. Don't press the issue, the right van at the right price will come and you still have planning and plan changing to do. Time is on you side. Monies can be spent on known purchases and when you do get the van, you can hit the ground running on the build.

  9. If you were truely temped at a total of $8000 then keep that in mind when you find locally at $7500. Generally a 25% higher price for a properly priced van will buy a 50% better van.

  10. I would caution against buying too far from home. Things happen, can you afford to make a second trip if you make it part of the way home and have to leave it in a shop to be repaired. Not to mention that any repairs done locally will have a warranty that you can use.
    BTW, I really like following blog.

  11. Squire,

    You are a man of reason. I've entertained all of the considerations you've addressed and do appreciate your ideas.

    Although I'm not ready to buy right this moment, I've realized that when the time does come to get the van, the perfect one probably will not readily present itself. Judging from the photo, the Freightliner seems to have exceptional headroom for a vehicle of that length. And, from what I've seen in my six months of searching, not one single van compares to that. The others mostly have an interior height hovering around 6'3". And, the Freightliner can still fit reasonably into public parking spaces.

    I feel like I've found an oasis in the desert. And to reference your point, "Patience is a virtue." Now I know what to look for.

    Keep your words of wisdom coming.

  12. Mike,

    The masses have spoken, the consensus is in and onward, I go.

  13. A reminder about vehicles from the Northeast- our roads are liberally coated with salt from November through March, and as such our vehicles tend to sustain more weather related issues. We all dream about buying vehicles from Florida or California, because they've never been "salted"! Hope this puts a positive perspective on not buying that van.
    (Your Connecticut friend :)

  14. Jessica,

    Your words are valuable advice! I'm glad I didn't get that one. Oddly enough, I just went to see an amazing van this morning that popped up on craigslist yesterday. I won't be buying it now, but in one month, if I see one like that, it will be mine.