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Old 03-03-2014, 10:36 PM   #1
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Hello! I'm at a crossroads and need some help

Hello there, first post for me but have been reading for a week or so. Hope this post is in an appropriate category. I have been interested in Sportsmobiles for a few years now and came across a very old (1985) van with a good PH and a simple interior a few months back and picked it up for a good deal. Its only a 2wd van and the body is rough. I would really like a 4wd for Colorado so I have been looking again. I have come across a few but 1 has really caught my eye. If you can't tell by now, I'm on a very tight budget. I googled the forum but couldn't find a specific answer for this. How much work and cost is it to swap the whole penthouse from one van to another as a DIY or any idea how much a shop might charge for this? Would I have issues going from a 1985 standard length to a 1990 extended van as far as the top is concerned. On a side note, any idea what the old 1985 van might be worth, mostly for the PH and the rest of the interior if I were to try and sell it and just continue looking and saving. Thanks for any insight.
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Old 03-04-2014, 06:12 AM   #2
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Re: Hello! I'm at a crossroads and need some help

There have been a few similar 80s SMBs listed here recently, listed in the $1800-3000 range. Look in the classified section, mostly the eBay and CL ads.
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Old 03-04-2014, 10:21 AM   #3
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Re: Hello! I'm at a crossroads and need some help

Quote:

I'm on a very tight budget. I googled the forum, but couldn't find a specific for answer for this.

Sorry I can't help you there! I think you could do the work yourself. I think a shop would charge 2k to install a penthouse into another van. Good luck!
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Old 03-04-2014, 10:43 AM   #4
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Re: Hello! I'm at a crossroads and need some help

Call Sportsmobile Texas and ask them.They would know if the shapes are different.This should be in Homemade/groundup builds section.Maybe Jage can move it but you should look there.Boy wonder has a thread where he is doing just what you want to do.Look at "Popping my top"
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Old 03-04-2014, 10:59 AM   #5
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Re: Hello! I'm at a crossroads and need some help

I have seen one or two RB tops installed on EB vans. It would probably require some work to the rear section of fiberglass top to match the roof line - the front of the top would be located in the same position relative to the windshield/cab.

How much do you REALLY need a 4x4? Is your rear axle limited slip? If not, you might consider going to a LSD or a locker. If you are on a budget, I say use what you've got! Stock Ford vans have pretty decent clearance and are pretty capable on most FS roads. Bring along a friend with a winch or a tow strap as cheap insurance. Too often I think that people get caught up in the equipment and seem to think that they can't do x,y,z because they don't have lockers, an Atlas transfer case, etc.

Your cheapest option would be to buy a little compressor to air down your tires a bit and some chains in case things get really bad.

If you're still set on a 4x4, there was a rig in Bend for $5k that was an 87 E350 4x4 with a penthouse top and some Westy interior bits. You won't find anything much cheaper than that, but with a 460 (and presumably a C6) don't expect to see much more than 10 MPG out of that rig!

If it was me, I'd try to make what you've got work and use your extra budget money for some gas and go put some miles on to see how it treats you. YMMV
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Old 03-04-2014, 04:42 PM   #6
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Re: Hello! I'm at a crossroads and need some help

Thanks for all the advice and info. I would probably only need 4wd during the winter as I have dreams of taking it skiing/ snowmobiling. The 85 does have studded winter tires in the rear, but not sure how those would do on the mountain passes. Summer would be mostly FS roads. I did find this one in Eugene, OR.

http://eugene.craigslist.org/cto/4358038207.html

Not sure if it is the same one you were talking about Rockbender. Looks like it has some issues and could get expensive driving it to Colorado. If I decide to keep the 1985 I will have to dig into the best way to get rid off or solve my rust problem. Thanks again
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Old 03-04-2014, 05:55 PM   #7
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Re: Hello! I'm at a crossroads and need some help

Yes, that is the same rig. It started out for sale for about 7500 a month or two back. I think it could be a cool rig for someone that is mechanically savvy. If you need to take it to a shop to have any mechanical repairs done then it just won't be cost effective in my opinion - I think it could nickel and dime a guy.
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