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Author Topic: OT with apologies - Value of a AIRSTREAM CUTTER 35RQ  (Read 4152 times)
Tony LEE
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« on: October 12, 2009, 03:25:29 AM »

My profound apologies for asking you BusNuts to discuss a stick and staple motorhome - and I hasten to assure you that I am a proud owner of a genuine fuel-guzzling, maintenance-nightmare MCI bus - but realistically speaking, buying something like this to do a couple of 6-month tours of the US and Canada makes a lot of sense.

What I don't know is the value of these sort of machines in the US.  Asking price is US$38000 and I'm a bit concerned that this may be high given the current economic climate.

Full details are below - sorry for the capitals but that is how the advert reads. I've seen a comprehensive walkround video and it all seems to be as new as is claimed. Currently owned by an English couple.

Any advice would be very much appreciated and I home you will take notice that it is at least a diesel pusher so not too far off being a proper bus.





AIRSTREAM CUTTER 35RQ
Date First Registered:    JAN 1999
Engine Type & Size:    CAT TURBO 300 HP.
Mileage:    70240





DIESEL PUSHER, FREIGHTLINER CHASSIS, CATERPILLER 300HP ENGINE, ALISON 6 SPEED BOX, AIR RIDE SUSPENSION/BRAKES, JAYCO EXHAUST BRAKE, CRUISE CONTROL, 11 MPG (AMERICAN GALLON 3.78 LITERS) DOUBLE GLAZED WINDOWS, 2 DUCTED ROOF A/C. ONAN 7.5KW DIESEL GENERATOR, 2.5KW INVERTER, 2-130 WAT SOLAR PANELS, REES HITCH, REAR LADDER, BACK UP CAMERA, WASHER/DRIER CONNECTIONS, HIGH POWERED LEVELING JACKS, DRY CLEAN OUTSIDE STORAGE COMPARTMENTS, 5 AWNINGS, AIR HORNS, 2 LEATHER ELECTRIC POWERED SWIVELING DRIVER/PASSENGER SEATS, LEATHER RECLINER WITH TABLE/CABINET, DINETTE BOOTH AND TABLE, 19"T.V, VCR, DVD, 10 DISC CD PLAYER, DHS SOUND SYSTEM, 2 DASH FANS, DOUBLE BED SETTEE, DOUBLE SINK, 3 BURNER HOB, LARGE 2 WAY FRIDGE/FREEZER, CONVECTION MICROWAVE OVEN, SUPERB OAK CABINETS THROUGHOUT, SLIDE OUT KITCHEN STORAGE SHELVING UNIT, WATER FILTER, TILED FLOOR KITCHEN AND BATHROOM,CARPETED LOUNGE AND BEDROOM, CENTER BATHROOM WITH 2 SLIDING DOORS, NUMEROUS MIRRORS, FULL SIZE ENCLOSED SHOWER, VANITY UNITS/WASH BASIN, MARINE TOILET, 2 OAK WARDROBES, 6.2 GALLON WATER HEATER, QUEEN SIZED BED, OAK CUPBOARDS AND DRAWERS, 13" T.V., 35000 BTU FURNACE, NO SMOKERS OR PETS. THIS IS OUR OWN R.V. WHICH WE HAVE USED TO TOUR AMERICA IN LUXURY, IT IS IN ABOVE AVERAGE CONDITION THE BODYWORK SHINES BEAUTIFULLY, IT HAS BEEN FULLY SERVICED BY A RECOMMENDED SERVICE CENTER, WE HAVE LEFT IT FULLY EQUIPPED WITH BEDDING, CROCKERY, CUTLERY, POTS, PANS ALMOST NEW, OUTSIDE RECLINERS AND CARPET, STEP LADDER, CLEANING BRUSHES ETC. NUMEROUS TOOLS INCLUDING CORDLESS DRILL, BIKE RACK ON THE REAR LADDER, PLUS GENTS RACING BIKE, CATALYTIC PROPANE HEATER WHICH CONNECTS TO A QUICK RELEASE GAS FITTING IN THE KITCHEN, IDEAL FOR FREE CAMPING/BOONDOCKING, PLUS SMALL ELECTRIC HEATER FOR USE ON SITES,

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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2009, 05:49:56 AM »

The price seems a little high to me given the age and the economy but then aesthetically it appears to be in exceptionally good condition for a 10 year old RV (based on YouTube video of it and assuming the video is current). It must have been stored in a garage most of its idle time to have a finish like that.  If it is mechanically as well maintained it may be worth it.

Too me the engine condition would be the big question mark. I would definitely have a CAT qualified mechanic check it out first.  Also the tires.  Are they still the original?  If so figure on replacing them regardless of tread remaining.

Are you going to be able to come to the US to inspect it before paying or have someone you trust inspect it?



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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2009, 06:22:26 AM »

My gut level reaction is too high. However, that really doesn't mean anything Grin. RV.net might be able to help you. They deal in the SS. Their message boards often discuss this stuff.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2009, 06:46:56 AM »

If it's the right one and you can afford it, then the price is right.  It's not out of line for a top drawer unit, particularly for an arrive and drive situation like you would have.  It's well equipped!

If it checks out when inspected by someone trustworthy, then the most you'd be overpaying is 10 or 15 percent, which in the greater scheme of your plan is a pittance.

Brian
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2009, 08:18:04 AM »

An Airstream unit will be higher just because of the name. The main reason is because if you are to attend an Airstream caravan, you MUST be an Airstream owner & be in an Airstream. Kind of limits the market for motorhomes if you are an Airstreamer. If you don't like their rules, there are other groups to join. . . .

Anyways, I am an Airstreamer & my dad has a similar unit with the 330 cat. If the tires are the stock size, it will be so close to the tire weight limit dry, you won't be able to fill the fresh water tank without going over the GVW. The simple fix is to put higher capacity tires on it & then make the corrections to the tire inflation chart in the coach.

Dad likes his & they do hold up well - not as well as the old trailers, but loads better than most of the new stuff. They aren't perfect in their mechanical systems, but, then again, they are as good as or better than most.

It doesn't seem too far out of line pricewise - IF it is as perfect as it has been described.



I have observed that the only thing cheap about an Airstream is the owner!  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2009, 08:24:01 AM »

Years ago Airstream made a motorhome that looked like one of their trailers made into a motorhome using their excellent aluminum construction methods.  Those original motorhomes became too expensive to make, so they made the motorhome exhibited here.  In another words, it is just another cheap sticks and staples motorhome-not the excellent aluminum motorhome Airtstream originally made.  Another point-it has no bumper! Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2009, 08:40:37 AM »

If it has a CAT 3126, look out.  Lot of problems with that engine.  It stranded my twice on the Interstate in the first three weeks off the lot.  Talk to your local school bus maint supervisor.

The current worth can be found at

http://www.nadaguides.com/
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2009, 10:43:45 AM »

Years ago Airstream made a motorhome that looked like one of their trailers made into a motorhome using their excellent aluminum construction methods.  Those original motorhomes became too expensive to make, so they made the motorhome exhibited here.  In another words, it is just another cheap sticks and staples motorhome-not the excellent aluminum motorhome Airtstream originally made.  Another point-it has no bumper! Good Luck, TomC

 
The 'Classic' is the one that looks like the 'tin turd' trailers Grin & are front engined. The one you're looking at is a diesel pusher if I'm not mistaken.

Yes, it is sticks stapled & screwed together, but they do appear to be on the higher end of the quality scale than most. I saw several this weekend at my "non-rally" that shared park facilities with the local Airstream club. some were older & some were newer, but they all looked almost new inside & out (aside from the curb rash . . . .  Roll Eyes )

You might find better answers here:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2009, 12:39:28 PM »

Thanks for all that info.  

One thing you might be able to confirm as conventions probably vary from country to country. It was first registered in January 1999. Does that make it a 1999 or 1998 model for valuation purposes. Makes $8000 difference to the price - around $46k down to $38k on the NADA list. Big difference.

Quote
I have observed that the only thing cheap about an Airstream is the owner!
Sounds about my style Cheesy. Possibly better than being a broke MCI owner though - although touch wood, mine hasn't been too much of a drain other than paying the fuel bill when we fill the tank. Well, apart from the differential --- and the clutch --- and the alternator and the ...

The MH is currently in storage at LANCASTER CALIFORNIA JUST NORTH OF LOS ANGELES, so it is a bit far for me to come and have a test drive.

One other aspect some of you may know about - the current owners own it via a limited liability company registered in Montanna and another company does all the paperwork, mail forwarding etc for a fee. Is this a legitimate system for getting around the rules or is it too grey an area to take a chance with?

Thanks again for your comments and again, sorry to divert you with such a distasteful subject.

Seems as if the consensus is that I should make an offer quite a bit below the asking price. One think I am willing to allow a bit extra for is that it is a walk in, walk out deal - complete with all bedding, cooking stuff, tools etc. Doesn't sound like much but when we went through this exercise with a much smaller Class C in Germany, the cost of setting it up to live in it was quite surprising.

One thing - if I do buy it, it will give me a chance to call in on some proper bus rallies - yeh, yeh, I know I would have to park way out back - and see some nice MCIs and Eagles. Mine is a bit of a heap compared to some I see on this forum.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2009, 12:43:01 PM by Tony LEE » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2009, 02:10:41 PM »

You need to know the model year and/or the build date.

Sometimes these high end SS stay on the lot for a couple of years when economic times are not so good, or for many other reasons. If it sat on the LA lot in the hot sun it makes a big difference in condition if it is fiberglas.

It makes me suspicious when he didn't mention the model year. Model year makes a big difference in price, just like with autos.

To me the condition is the most important thing because I keep things forever, but it you are concerned about resale trade in value you need to know these things.
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« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2009, 02:23:48 PM »

Good point Gus, I'll ask them for that info.
Also checking the tyre size and condition as well.
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« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2009, 05:01:43 PM »

I found one of the (as Kyle called it) t/t airstream motorhome in an airplane hanger, been in storage for 10 years. With the 454 chevy engine runs great (1982). It does ok for the local tractor shows and such. While I'm working on the Prevost
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« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2009, 08:24:14 PM »

Tony,

Just have the owner send you the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  It is on the manufacturing data plate, or directly next to it.  The VIN will be 17 digits long, consisting of numbers and letters.  Beginning with the first digit, count to the 10th digit.  The 10th digit denotes the official year of manufacture.  It runs from "A" denoting 1980 or 2010 as the codes roll over every 30 years.

So for example:

W = 1998 or 2028
X  = 1999 or 2029
Y  = 2000 or 2030
Z  is not used
1 through 9 denotes 2001 through 2009

The stated year on the VIN will follow the vehicle's registrations(s) throughout it's life.  It is this digit that all the DMV's use to year code a new or used vehicle, including motorcycles since 1980.

I've purchased a van and a motorhome that sat on the lot new for a year.  Even though first titled in the year of purchase, with full manufacturer warranty beginning on the date of sale, the date of manufacture (10th digit) was listed on the title and registration.  More importantly, the latter is the date used for insurance and valuation purposes.

Good luck in your quest.

« Last Edit: October 12, 2009, 08:29:05 PM by Chuck Newman » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2009, 02:24:31 AM »

Thanks Chuck

VIN no. 4UZ6XJCA7XCF31140 so 1999.

Can't get much detail on the tyres so just have to assume they are OK
Quote
Tyre size.  22.5 inches, they are in good condition with a good depth of tread.
The gross vehicle weight is 23655 pounds, the unladen weight is 21000 pounds, it gives a good payload.

I just have to check out this Montana system where a proxy company acts as an intermediary of some sort. Probably one of those legal grey area workarounds but last thing I want is to drive all over the USA (and Canada I hope) completely oblivious to the fact that I am not legally insured. I might be able to write off the purchase price to experience, but I might run into say Tom's fabulous bus, and paying for that would break the bank
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« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2009, 04:50:20 AM »

I use a Montana corporation with no problems. I have also been involved in an accident with a vehicle owned by said corporation (not the bus) with no problems. There are a few shysters out there to beware of but I have had zero problems. You can email me if you want more info.

TOM
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« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2009, 07:30:22 AM »

The Montana LLC or corporation methods are used by many and from what I understand is not a problem except for people who are residents of Texas or a couple other states.  In those states they have laws in place to prevent their own residents from legally doing that.  But there is no problem with a non resident visiting their state with that type of ownership.  And it may even be the easiest way to handle the vehicle ownership/registration/insurance as a non US citizen.

Specifically how it works is, you own the business, the business owns the RV and under unique Montana laws that arrangement is not subject to sales or use tax.  There is paperwork to be done to set it up and periodic paperwork to be filed with the state and federal govt. relating to the business.  That, in addition to the necessity of a Montana address for the business is why another company is involved.

In your case it needs to be the LLC format that it is reportedly set up as because of you not being a US citizen.  If you had it set up as a corporation, it would have to be a full blown "C" corp because the simpler "S" corp can't have foreign shareholders.

Even though you may be able to get the price down some, there is always risk in losing the deal when you try.  For a local to miss out it not a big deal because it is easy to go down the road and find another.  But as a long distance non resident, it isn't that easy to find high quality bargains.  As long as a qualified mechanic certifies the engine/drive train, this may very well be the ideal motorhome for your needs due to the reasons you mentioned combined with the way ownership is already set up.  And like I said before, if the video is current, it is in exceptional aesthetic condition and the sides look very tight with no signs of delamination.

If you buy another one and have to pay sales tax in order to register it, that could be $2000 or more itself, not to mention the hassles likely involved in a non U.S. citizen titling/registering a vehicle here.  It can be difficult for a US citizen who is a full timer without a permanent physical address to register a vehicle in many states.  That is why many use a mailing service that gives them a physical mailing address or buy a piece of property without any intention of using it for anything more than an address.

I would keep a budget ready for replacing the tires though.  At that mileage there is a real good chance they are the original tires and still have great tread left and if I am right about indoor/covered storage they may even look good.  But if they are 10-12 years old, you would be trusting your lives and your new investment to old rubber.
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« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2009, 07:44:41 AM »

Montana doesn't have a motor vehicle sales tax for anyone.  The registration fees are also likely to be lower than some states.

A lot of Californians in particular own motorhomes through Montana LLCs to avoid the sales tax and the high registration fees in California.  California is cracking down on this.  If California sees that a vehicle registered out of state is consistently in the state of California they have been known to take steps to collect California taxes on that vehicle.  I don't think California realizes that if they had reasonable taxes folks wouldn't be so likely to evade them.

A Montana LLC likely wouldn't be a problem for someone not a United State resident.  Australia is hardly going to expect a resident to register a vehicle there when the vehicle isn't even in Australia.
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« Reply #17 on: October 13, 2009, 12:34:18 PM »

Thanks everyone - I think you have covered all bases and the advice is very encouraging. A state that imposes almost no taxes on vehicle transfer and ownership - WOW.  The owners said it cost them about $1500 to set up the company in the first place but there is little cost to transfer it over so I have to figure that saving into the cost of the vehicle as well.

Australia doesn't care too much what we get up to overseas unless it involves earning lots of money. Then it wants its share. We also have different vehicle ownership regulations in each state and the OKA I bought recently is going to stay registered interstate to avoid having a mechanical check every year. I'm all for the checks but here in NSW where the MCI is registered as a heavy vehicle, it means I have to bring it back at least once a year for the safety check. Real pain.
Setting up a company doesn't work because the registration fees are quite a bit higher for corporate vehicles.

Yes, tyres are something I will look at - especially the steer tyres. When I bought the MCI it did have good tyres on the front, but all  6 rears were a bit of a mixture. After suffering the indignity of three blowouts - ALL on the inside drives - and spending the close to two hours changing each one in near summer desert conditions, I lashed out and bought all new ones and have had no trouble since. I also run them at the correct pressure for each axle load as well, so that will also help. 100psi all-round might be right for trucks, but no need in a bus.

Thanks again
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« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2009, 02:04:41 PM »

The deal is done - 22,500 -- USD35,937.74 - walk out, walk in, as is, where is. Thank goodness the Oz Dollar has been going up and up lately.

So now is the time to tell me you saw a MUCH better one just yesterday, half the age and half the price.

Thanks again for all the useful advice and encouragement.

When I come over, I'll be able to go back to Oz with a bag full of spare parts to keep my MCI on the road.

Hmmmmm, wonder how much a power steering conversion kit weighs, and a wiper overhaul kit, and a DD3 service kit, and a .....

and an 8V71.

Nah, my engine is good so don't need a new one.

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« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2009, 02:22:06 PM »

Sorry Tony, but looks like I didn't get this posted in time. There is an incredible RV that was foreclosed on, and sitting at our local bank. It is half the price.....No, no, no. I AM KIDDING... Grin Grin Grin

Congrats on your buy. Looks like it will serve you well. Where are you headed on this trip? If you are going to be here in spring, or fall, I have a great recommendation of a CG in Rocky Mountain national park. Excellent place. Keep us updated on your travels, when you leave.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2009, 03:42:22 PM »

Thanks John.

I'm going to have to do a bit of research on geography and weather before I decide where we are going to go. The western and north-western parts of the US appeal to me more than the east and south east - although that may be more a matter of misconceptions than reality. Canada is also on the list and of course Alaska too if I can find somewhere near the Canadian  border to store it over winter without costing a fortune. One thing is certain though is that we will be giving most cities a very wide berth - as we do here as well. We are limited to stays of 6 months in any one year - although I guess we can extend the total time by spending a few months in Canada as well.
A complicating factor is that I've somehow become a collector of motorhomes. The MCI here and the OKA 4WD camper (see picture) I'm picking up from Western Australia when we get back from New Guinea (and which will likely end up in South America in a couple of years), and the Hobby in Germany. Now the new one in the US as well. Not enough seasons in the year to do what I want to do.

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« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2009, 04:18:38 PM »

Good grief, Tony. I would love to find out what you did for a living! I don't care what it is, it sounds good. I agree with you. I like the west better then the east (I don't mean anything against those that live there). One of my favorite places is CO Rockies and up from there. The grand canyon is great too.

Most of the cities aren't that bad. Just hit the cities in between rushours.

God bless.

John

Posted from my Itouch.
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« Reply #22 on: October 14, 2009, 05:34:04 PM »

If you keep an open mind, almost anywhere in the US is a great place to visit & tour.

The East coast has history & lots of nature stuff.

The West coast has the same, just different . . .

Same goes for everywhere in between.  Grin

The area you like best will depend on your own tastes.
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« Reply #23 on: October 14, 2009, 05:41:07 PM »

If you keep an open mind, almost anywhere in the US is a great place to visit & tour.

The East coast has history & lots of nature stuff.

The West coast has the same, just different . . .

Same goes for everywhere in between.  Grin

The area you like best will depend on your own tastes.

Yup, Kyle, you said it right. The east does have some very, very pretty places. I also like a lot of the history there too, however if I was choosing where too go on a vacation it would be to the Rockies, but then again, that is just me, and doesn't mean a hoot Grin.

BTW, Kyle. Why did Tony get another RV. Couldn't you have loaned him an orphan?  Grin Grin Grin

God bless,

John
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« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2009, 09:42:09 PM »

BTW, Kyle. Why did Tony get another RV. Couldn't you have loaned him an orphan?  Grin Grin Grin
God bless,
John

John sure he coulda, question is. Could Tony have afforded to have it towed everwhere he wanted to see?!?!? Grin
Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2009, 12:05:15 AM »

Quote
Could Tony have afforded to have it towed everwhere he wanted to see?!?!?

Yes, I thought about seeing if there was a converted MCI for sale - briefly - for about 0.0001 microseconds. And then I came to my senses and thought - why go all that way when I can stay right here and have all the hassles of running a 31-year old bus
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« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2009, 05:33:51 AM »

Tony, for "furriners" like us this is a good time, maybe the best time in recent years, to visit the US and Canada.  The US$ is low compared to external currencies, the economy is recovering and sliding towards  optimistic, and people like to see you show up and spend your money, unlike some other countries I like to visit.  The thing about the US is that there are so many different things to visit.  You like big mountains, you got your big mountains - go towards Denver.  You like your little mountains, go to Verginia or around there.  You like hot - Texas and Florida, you like cold, try Canada or Alaska.  You come from a desert and want wet - go hang in Seattle, it rains every day there.  Come to think of it, it rained every day I was in New Orleans in August - for an hour at lunch time, by the time you were finished eating the sun was out again!

Have a good time.

Brian
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