Originally Posted by simplesez
I'm gonna help you guys out here. I found a mid 90s 4x4 unicorn. Love it. The FANTASY of not doing much work on a 20 year old van with low mileage is a lovely thought.
These are domestic vans (Ford and Chevy) from the 90s. These aren't bulletproof Toyotas from that era. Even with low mileage these vans have all sorts of problems. First generation OBDII, early airbags, weak transmissions, Quigley custom parts, and that is just the start.
You will be lucky to find a van that has gotten proper routine maintenance. Most owners used their Sportsmobiles occassionally. They had disposable income but little common sense on maintenance. They don't bring them to dealerships where they do multi point checks. So things like brake pads, differential fluid, ball joints, and coolant don't get checked. They don't bring them to RV dealers so things like proper winterization and generator maintenance get overlooked. They don't rotate tires. Things break and they throw money at it hoping to be fixed.
I have 2 giant folders of receipts for my Sportsmobiles and the amount of silly things that break on domestic vans makes me laugh and cry at the same time.
So don't get your hopes up that a 20 year old domestic van will need little to no maintenance. You can certainly try, you might get away with it for a year or two but then it will all catch up to you and it will get expensive. (or some DIY schmuck like me will buy it from you and will waste all his fall weekends catching up on the maintenance you ignored)
I fully get you. I guess I probably put it the wrong way. I'm expecting to have to spend a few thousand fixing stuff and changing fluids (my normal procedure for a used vehicle). What I don't want to be doing is the 4x4 swap myself or building an interior. I'm fully capapble of it, but I'm a bit meticulous and hate to be rushed on custom work.
So I fully expect to be doing a full go through on the axles, bushings, tie rods, and a full service of the motor and probbaly fixing some BS on the interior, fresh/grey water, tent fabric etc. I've foruntately got places to work on it, my best friend owns a shop and would be thrilled to have me hang out, use his lifts and spend my days talking smack and drinking his beers since I haven't seen him for two years.
I'm also starting to think that getting a better condition 2wd and having the swap done is the best option, as at least I'd know the front end was good. I also really am starting to like the idea of Agile's TTB kit, so I shot them an email.
In terms of buying from NZ, I've got a few tricks up my sleeve. Totally get what you're saying on the "sounds like a scam" thing. I'd be using my USA bank account, calling from a USA phone number and would hopefully get it checked out by a 3rd party mechanic before buying site unseen. Worst case I can send my old man out to look, he's retired and wouldn't mind helping out.