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Old 10-20-2019, 01:41 PM   #1
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Buying a SMB... Please Help!

Hi Everyone,

I am new to the forum and this is my first post so hopefully I'm in the right place and thanks in advance for the help.

A quick background, my wife fell in love with the idea of owning a Sportsmobile a couple years ago and begged to swap our 2500 for one. I loved the idea, but we had a few other projects that took up our time/money at the time so I said we could once our truck died.... fast forward to last week when the transmission on our truck went out and the SMB was back on the table.

Over the last year we have casually browsed photos getting an idea for features/designs we liked, but this week we went into overdrive and looked at every craigslist, autotrader, ebay, etc. listing we could find. After falling in and out of love a dozen times I was hoping you could help us with a few questions/concerns.

We found a rig for sale that we like and it seems like a good deal, but there are a few aspects that aren't our ideal setup. Our concern is that it may take a really long time for our ideal van to show up for sale (months? years?), in which case we should act on the good deal and roll up our sleeves to modify it to where we want it to be. Below are a few questions. Any insight you can provide would be helpful.

QUESTIONS (aspects to address on the van we are considering):

Exterior Color - How much would it cost to get a E350 EB repainted?
Interior Color - Is it possible (cost?) to change the interior panels (dash, doors, etc.) from tan to blacks/greys?
Grill/Lights/Hood - Is it possible (cost?) to convert the older models to the newer (+2008) design (looks more modern)
Layout - Is there a benefit to the forward facing bench as opposed to the side facing bench?
Availability - How often do SMBs come up for sale with extended body, <125k miles, 6.0L diesels (the 7.3L is so loud), 2008-2010 (we like the lights/grill/hood), <$80k, 4x4, pop-top (no idea if that's the right lingo)?

Thanks again for all of the help and we can't wait to be part of the cool kid club!!
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Old 10-20-2019, 02:58 PM   #2
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You'll find quite a few well appointed Rigs in your price range, but to meet all of your criteria listed above sounds like you'll likely throw another 20-30K to make it meet your expectations. Buying a used Sportsmobile may require a level of compromise to stay within you budget - rarely will you find exactly what you want.
If you're looking at the 6.0 diesel, I'd suggest one that's already been "bulletproofed", or plan on an additional 10-13k to get that done at some point.
The 50 layout is very popular since the bench faces forward - good if you're traveling with others. I have the walk through (bench behind the drivers seat) and love the accessibility of everything (but not ideal if you are traveling with Kids or friends on extended trips). So interior layout is more motivated by personal preference - both are very functional.
If you're not ecstatic about the interior color combination it may prove cheaper to reupholster the seats and bench to give them some flair - could also add removable carpet to enhance the look you're trying to achieve. I'd be leary of painting cabinets, just don't see that weathering any abuse well.
Waiting on the "perfect" Van to come for sale is an unknown you have no control over - can be very frustrating.
How quickly do you need a vehicle? And how quickly are you wanting to get out there and have fun? These seem to be your two biggest obstacles.

FWIW - bottle of wine (or two) always helped us think clearly
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Old 10-20-2019, 03:54 PM   #3
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RE: Paint. Expect about $2500 for a single-stage catalyst paint at MAACO (this would be like what the Sprinters have, or white Transits). 3-stage with clearcoat at MAACO would be about $4,000. Double that for a traditional body shop.
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Old 10-20-2019, 04:00 PM   #4
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Front clip update, you can do in a weekend for a under $1,000 in parts. Much less if you find good used parts. Do before you repaint for best result.

The dash and trim can all be swapped, but the dash will take some time. The rest is easy. But grey is more common anyways. I'd just hold out for that.
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Old 10-20-2019, 08:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TucknRoll View Post
Layout - Is there a benefit to the forward facing bench as opposed to the side facing bench?
Our SMB has side-facing bench seats. The salesman regretted to inform us that that left us with no legal location to strap in a child seat, which could potentially be a deal-breaker for you. For us, it was cause for celebration.
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Old 10-21-2019, 02:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewInSeattle View Post
Our SMB has side-facing bench seats. The salesman regretted to inform us that that left us with no legal location to strap in a child seat, which could potentially be a deal-breaker for you. For us, it was cause for celebration.
The couple I bought mine from was selling it because they'd had a kid and needed something with a forward facing bench. They replaced it with a Westy I think.
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Old 10-22-2019, 10:06 AM   #7
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Tuck,
Remember this famous SB quote "any thing is possible". Equals $$$$$$ (how much).
To be honest your wish list sounds like this is not the van for you.
16 years ago when I purchased my Van SMB had a used Van in Fresno for sale, it was tricked out...everything except it was the side facing (gaucho) bench seating. Alan explained to me they were designed for for surfers going to Baja and they would lay their boards down the middle isle. Usually covered with leather for easy clean up, wet suits etc. that seating was a deal-breaker for me. It was really a hot van but I wanted my Van.
The 7.3 is worth the noise (to me) for the lack of issues it has caused me...like ZERO.
I'm maxed out at 9,300lbs curb weight and average 15+ mpg. I just turned 270,000 miles. Have not modified the engine or exhaust system everything is factory issue.
Remember.....Sportsmobile people live outside their VAN.......at the end of the day I'm usually bushed and the bed is looking pretty good. My bed is actually better than what I have at home.....but most likely it's the excitement of being outdoors in my SMB.
My 2003 white 4X4 7.3 gets plenty of thumbs up when traveling.
I have the basic floor plan, white replaced one frig, and recently new carpet cut and replaced with Home Depot material.
I'm sure the van your eye balling is solid but your list of changes really makes me think there is something more appealing out there with your name on it.
Run the numbers that SMB people have submitted to you..........step back and look at the big picture. Once you start a project like that, were does it stop?...when you run out of money and the VAN sits in your driveway....no $$$ for fuel.
Keep the faith......
The only difference between a BOY and a MAN is how much he pays for his toys.
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Old 10-27-2019, 01:58 PM   #8
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a good find...maybe?

Get in touch, I just might have what you're looking for.......its way early for me, but is a future thought to sell ......

Chris
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Old 10-27-2019, 08:17 PM   #9
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Buying a SMB... Please Help!- is your tittle!
Don't is my answer!
Build your own! Or pay some vendors on here for what you want. There are a few on here that are doing BEAUTIFUL jobs with aluminum framed units and some with Bamboo. I mean real quality stuff they will be build it the way you want it for 2/3rds to 1/2 the price of the unit you are asking about but it will be new.
HEY don't listen to me just read all the post on here about them. That will be enough to scare you away.
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Old 10-27-2019, 08:32 PM   #10
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I say buy it as complete as you can afford. Think functional then looks!
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