Ramblings of a Techno-Viking

Looking at Class A RVs

Over the last eight days, I took an 1800 mile road trip visiting relatives and looking at RVs with visits to a two-dealer "RV show", three private-sale RVs, and two dealers.

In the price range I'm looking at, Fleetwoods are most common. They make several Class A models, cheapest/smallest to largest/most expensive is Flair, Bounder, Southwind, Southwind Storm, Pace Arrow, Pace Arrow Coronado. Itasca is a Winnebago under a different label for marketing reasons. I haven't bothered to figure out all the Winnebago/Itasca models since I don't see many on the market.

The "show" was on a gravel parking lot, and I never saw a trace of the second dealer. (Maybe they only had towables.) It did give me a chance to look at about ten RVs in my price range, and the salesman left me alone to wander the lot. There was one I really liked the layout of, a 1999 Bounder 28T, but the price was high enough that I didn't even try to see if they would come down to my range. (I'm wondering if there is a variation of the 28T layout with two twin beds.) There were a couple of older bigger Fleetwood Class A's, but neither layout appealed to me. The other brands they had either seemed poorly made or had other issues that made them not be seriously considered.

Of the private sale RVs I looked at, the Holiday Rambler seemed well enough made, but there could have been much more storage if the designers had just made the space accessible. (This is an issue I found to a lesser extent in other RVs I looked at.) Also, the ducted heating used up quite a bit of space. There were a few issues due to the way it had been stored.

The owner of the Southwind had just about finished some upgrades he was doing to sell the RV. Not even considering the labor involved, I'd rather have had it priced cheaper by the amount spent on the upgrades. Of all the RVs I've looked at, this one was the most pristine. While a good price for what it was, it just wasn't that good a fit for me. I'd probably wind up taking out the new TV that was just being installed, and spending money on other customizations to make it fit me.

After driving over 100 miles to look at it, I found out the Rexhall had been sold while I was in-route. At least I got a chance to have a good look at it. This one had an unusual layout: king-size bed in back, L-shaped couch with the only table being convertible from coffee table to full hight with leaves to extend it. The RV did look well made.

At the dealer I went to next (B&L RV in San Pablo, CA) I never saw a salesman. The sales offices were empty. The lady in the parts department said I could look at the RVs, and of the two I had seen ads for that I was considering one I didn't find, and the other was in very poor shape, by far the worst of any I looked at. Not a dealer I'll be back to.

The next dealership I looked at (Discover RV in French Camp, CA) was a very different experience. A salesman greeted me before I got to the office, and let me look at RVs I was considering, and test-drive the one that was the best fit. For as good as the Southwind looked on the inside, I was amazed at how bad of shape the roof was in. Once I had that clue, I saw some minor discoloration on the ceiling inside. With no levelers or backup camera, tires that needed replaced due to age, the roof damage, and a price after adding all the fees more than I've got budgeted, this was not the RV for me. I should have walked out at least 1/2 hour earlier when the salesman started getting pushy.

It was defiantly a learning experience, and I'll know what to look for better in ads in the future. Damon and Georgie Boy don't seem to be well built, I probably won't look at them in the future. The Winnebago/Itasca motorhomes I saw were lower quality than I expected, and the Fleetwoods better. The only real problem I see with the Fleetwoods is the "rubber" roof, and I think that is an issue that can be lived with with a bit higher maintenance than a fiberglass roof would require.