RV Shopping 3 – It Heats Up

Here’s what happened since the last post.


In RV Shopping Part 2, we described our trip to the Orange County RV Show, which was a dealer show. We looked at quite a few new coaches, and only liked one of them a lot – the Forest River Georgetown 329. We also looked at used Diesel Pushers for the first time, and looked at a few used Class A Gas coaches. The show was a good experience, which we enjoyed very much.

After the Orange County show, we dived into some more intensive research. At first it was centered on Diesel Pushers……are they a good choice for us, what prices could we expect, maintenance and repair costs, and so on. We also learned a lot about determining value using the NADA Guide and other sources. Then we started to focus on the possibility of buying a new coach – could we afford it, what brands were the best for our price range, and so on. We wanted to sit down with a dealer and talk dollars on a new coach just to see what we could do, given the amount of money we could get out of our IRAs without taking a large tax hit.

Buying a new coach has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, you get better financing terms, and you get a warranty. You also know that your coach hasn’t been lived in by anybody else, or abused by anybody else. On the bad side, you take a depreciation hit, and you have to go through the problem “shake out” that seems to be the norm on new motor homes.

Our next shopping trip was up north – a dealership in Moorpark that sells new Newmar coaches and higher end used coaches, and a dealership in Thousand Oaks that sells new Itasca coaches and a wide variety of used coaches.


The drive out to Moorpark was longer than I expected. From Redondo Beach, it’s the 405 freeway all the way through the Sepulveda pass and deep into the San Fernando Valley. Then there is a big left turn on the 118 freeway, and you are on that freeway almost to the end of the line. I think of this area as being closer than going down south because I did a commute in the same direction for 9 years, to the Santa Clarita Valley which is only a few miles past the 118. It’s very familiar to me. I tend to underestimate how long the 118 freeway is.

This dealership is a small, family run company. They have very good ratings from customers, and the feel at this place is very good. They have no service facilities. They sell the high end and very expensive Newmar line, which starts out with the entry level Bay Star line, and goes all the way up through 300K plus Diesel Pushers. These coaches are made in Indiana with support by the local Amish community (some of the Amish work at Newmar and others work at other vendors and as independent craftsmen). Woodwork is better than anything I’ve seen, even in the entry level Bay Star units. Tiffin comes close, but no cigar. Neither Laura or I thought that we would be able to afford a brand new Newmar, but there were some used coaches on their website that we were interested in. When we got to the lot, only one person was there – the yard manager. Very nice guy, and he did a good job of showing us coaches.

Since we were trying to figure out financing options, we wanted to sit down with the somebody at this dealership and see what they could offer us for an entry level Newmar, even though we didn’t really think we could afford it. We weren’t able to do that. The yard manager isn’t allowed to work deals, and said we had to come back when the owner was there to talk money. We looked at four new coaches…the Bay Star Sport 2702 and the Bay Star Sport 2903 which are the lowest end of the Bay Star series, and two at the higher end of the Bay Star line –  the 3124 and the 3308. The Bay Star Sport units were pretty, but too small. The Bay Star 3124 was a nice unit….a large step above the Bay Star Sport line in both scale and features. The Bay Star 3308 was a really nice coach, and we were quite taken by it. It was the right size and had almost all of the features that we wanted. We had a very limited financial conversation with the yard manager on the 3308. The MSRP listed on the sticker was $143,126. The yard manager said that this coach would probably go for the mid 120K range. That isn’t a good deal – it’s only about 12% off of MSRP.

After that conversation, we went over to one of the used coaches we were interested in. It was a 2008 Monaco Cayman 35 Foot Diesel Pusher. The coach looked nice, but it was pretty well used, and it didn’t smell very good. Asking price was 99.9K. Low NADA for this coach is 69.8K. We asked the yard manager why the asking price was so far above Nada low retail, and he didn’t have a good answer. I also asked him why the Cayman had been for on their lot for so long (more than a month) with such a high price. His answer was that it was a Monaco coach, and since they went out of business before being picked up by another manufacturer after the 2008 crash, most people didn’t want to buy them. My first thought was to ask why they didn’t lower the price to compensate, but I didn’t say anything. I asked if they sold used coaches on consignment, and he said that they had a mixture of trade ins and consignment units. That might be what was going on with the Cayman….the private owner might not want to accept under a certain value for their coach.

Laura and I sat in this coach while the yard manager went out to do something in the office. When he came back, he told us that the Bay Star 3308 was going to be put on sale for the coming weekend, for 115K. This is about 20% off of MSRP, which is the low side of normal discounts off of MSRP. It may be a decent price for a Newmar, but it is less of a discount than the 25-30% that is a typical for most coaches. He said we could call the owner and make an appointment to talk about it.

We didn’t end up trying to tie in with the owner of this lot. It was pretty obvious to us that 115K was well above our price range, and even if we got them down to 30% off of MSRP, it would still be pretty tight. A Newmar just isn’t going to be our first coach.

There is one bit of advice that I would give to the owner of this dealership. If you want to get more sales, hire somebody else that can talk dollars, and make sure they are on the property when you aren’t. We’ve been there twice, and missed the owner both times. Not good. You are leaving money on the table. A good salesman would have tried to work us down to the Bay Star 3124 or even a Bay Star Sport. It probably wouldn’t have worked with us, but it might work with somebody else in a similar situation.

Thousand Oaks

Moorpark and Thousand Oaks are a lot closer together than I thought. You just take Hwy 23. It’s about a 15 minute drive.

There are two lots for the Thousand Oaks dealership, both on the same street. One has their lower end stock….used motorhomes under about 60K. The other lot has higher end used coaches and their stock of new Itasca Motor Homes. Itasca is built by Winnebago. The lines are almost identical. Originally Itasca was a higher priced line, but that isn’t the case these days.

We hit the low priced lot first. I didn’t like any of the coaches they had on this lot. I’ve been on their website pretty often, and their stock looks fairly good there, but they didn’t look so good when we actually went into them. I didn’t see one coach that I would consider. I’m thinking that many of the coaches here are traded in units that dealers didn’t want to sell. I asked the yard manager if their coaches were consignment. He told me that they owned all of them…..that tended to reinforce my suspicion here. They are buying used coaches on the wholesale market and trying to retail them.

The high end lot had some interesting coaches. There were two Diesel Pushers from their web site that I wanted to see. One was a Fleetwood Discovery 40x. That one looked very nice. It was way over priced compared to the NADA low retail value, but I got the impression that this company would negotiate. There was only one thing that turned me off about this coach. Size. A 40 foot coach looks HUGE when you are standing next to it. I thought that something only 6 feet longer than the coach I rented would be no problem. I’m not so sure about that.

We looked at one other Diesel Pusher that was on the website – a Safari Cheetah. This one was cheaper than the Fleetwood, but it didn’t look nearly as good, and it was also a 40 foot monster. It just didn’t feel right to me.

As we were on our way out of there, we looked at a another gas coach that had just arrived – a Winnebago Sightseer. It was a 2010 model, and it looked pretty good. It had a very interesting floor plan. Laura really liked it. The manager of this lot said what he thought the price would be (89K), and also said it was around 35 feet long. It looked longer to me, so when we got home I looked it up. This coach is over 37 feet. I wouldn’t consider a coach that long with a gas engine. Too much weight to pull mountain grades.

Over all, this lot was not bad, but all of the used coaches had some kind of issue. If budget forced us into an inexpensive coach, I’d give it a much harder look.

Sorry there aren’t any pictures for this post. I didn’t take my own pictures….it’s more difficult to do when you have sales people breathing down your neck, but that’s not the only reason. With the exception of the Bay Star 3308, there really weren’t any coaches that appealed to me. I thought about pulling some of the pictures from the websites of these two dealers, but I don’t think that’s kosher from a copyright standpoint, so I opted not to do that.

More in the next post with pictures this time…..another dealer show in Orange County.

Categories: The Hunt for the Wild RV | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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