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Old 05-11-2020, 02:33 PM   #1
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Cool Another Pricing Request: 1990 Ford E150 Sportsmobile

So I've been looking at camper vans for quite a while now, and a Sportsmobile was just listed in my area. I just went and took a look at it and would like some thoughts on what this vehicle is probably worth. The current owner bought it and drove it as-is. How much does the fact that it's fitted with the pop-up penthouse really add to the base value of the vehicle?

It has it's fair share of issues:
- Dent in the front-right quarter, passenger door does not open fully now and the front right headlight is mis-aligned.
- One of the cylinders sticks for the first 10 minutes or so that the vehicle is running
- Current owner requested a list of recommended services which include Timing cover gasket, oil pan gasket, valve cover gasket (currently leaking a small amount), serpentine belt tensioner, plugs, wires, distributor cap, distributor rotor.
- Check engine light is ON, took it to a auto shop and they said the 'code doesn't exist'.
- Fuel gauge doesn't work and they can't get it to cycle between tanks
- Deep cycle battery is dead

The asking price of $3600 seems pretty steep considering this seems like a full fledged mechanics special. Interested to hear your thoughts.

Craigslist ad: https://raleigh.craigslist.org/cto/d...119709012.html
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Old 05-11-2020, 02:59 PM   #2
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Unless you really want a project and its close to you, I would pass. That van is the older old body style, so the pop top is useless (pretty much) because it can't be swapped onto another van. The interior is sort of a wash.

Unless you have a line on another pre-92 van that you can put all the stuff on, you could find something that will be way better. Honestly, he will probably get $3600.
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Old 05-11-2020, 03:26 PM   #3
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There's a difference between "needed services" and "recommended services," so a lot of those gaskets and stuff are probably just recommended due to age vs. active leaking or whatever. And most of them aren't super hard to DIY if you are handy. There's also rust showing and some paint issues, too. I wouldn't buy it personally, but at $3600 it's a pretty low barrier to getting into #vanlife and I agree with Grampswrx that it will probably sell to someone. Maybe offer $3k if you are really into it?
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Old 05-11-2020, 03:33 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Grampswrx View Post
Unless you really want a project and its close to you, I would pass. That van is the older old body style, so the pop top is useless (pretty much) because it can't be swapped onto another van. The interior is sort of a wash.

Unless you have a line on another pre-92 van that you can put all the stuff on, you could find something that will be way better. Honestly, he will probably get $3600.
Thanks for the reply. Not very many of these style vans come around often where I live. I've read here that parts for this van are hard to source due to the van being pre-1992.
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Old 05-11-2020, 03:34 PM   #5
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It all comes down to this: when do you want to pay? Pay up front for a van at $10k that needs light work, or pay later by buying a van for $3k that needs serious work. Both will end up costing roughly the same, but which are you happier with along the way?
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Old 05-11-2020, 03:39 PM   #6
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There's a difference between "needed services" and "recommended services," so a lot of those gaskets and stuff are probably just recommended due to age vs. active leaking or whatever. And most of them aren't super hard to DIY if you are handy. There's also rust showing and some paint issues, too. I wouldn't buy it personally, but at $3600 it's a pretty low barrier to getting into #vanlife and I agree with Grampswrx that it will probably sell to someone. Maybe offer $3k if you are really into it?
I absolutely agree. I believe that was the list he obtained under the pretense that he wanted to take it on extended trips. He stated that in the mountains he has to put it into 1st gear and creep up the hills. The valve cover gasket is leaking. His mechanic tightened the valve covers but told the owner that it still leaks just a little. I didn't observe any active leaking and the owner stated that the van does not burn oil.

I've worked on most of my other vehicles I've owned over the years, however I haven't done much work on vans.

Also, would the sticking cylinder be a concern in the short term?

I noted the rust, paint, and body issues as well. I was attracted to it for it's price point. I don't have endless funds to buy a camper and the pop-up and configuration of the Sportsmobile meets my needs.
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Old 05-11-2020, 03:42 PM   #7
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It all comes down to this: when do you want to pay? Pay up front for a van at $10k that needs light work, or pay later by buying a van for $3k that needs serious work. Both will end up costing roughly the same, but which are you happier with along the way?
My current circumstances would dictate buy a van for $3k that needs serious work but is able to be used on a light-duty short trip basis until the mechanical issues are worked out.
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Old 05-11-2020, 03:48 PM   #8
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If it didn't scare you away already, I say go for it! The hardest part about doing work on a van is accessing the engine. Half the engine is in the cabin and 1/3 of it is under the hood. The rest is really hard to reach. The upside to an older van is it is simpler to work on.

Even newer vans aren't very fast. (my turbo transit excluded), so speed shouldn't be a concern.

I would go for it since you likely won't find anything under $5k with a complete interior. Just bring $3k in your pocket and show it to him. Then have an additional $600 in the car in case he plays hardball.

Check the pop top canvas for holes. Check the roof gutters for rust. I know weld-tec offers a lift kit for this van if you really want to get wild.

Lastly, there is something to be said for proximity. I live in southern CA and have bought vans in FL, TX, CO, and Colorado again. They are hard to find nearby.
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Old 05-11-2020, 03:53 PM   #9
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If it didn't scare you away already, I say go for it! The hardest part about doing work on a van is accessing the engine. Half the engine is in the cabin and 1/3 of it is under the hood. The rest is really hard to reach. The upside to an older van is it is simpler to work on.

Even newer vans aren't very fast. (my turbo transit excluded), so speed shouldn't be a concern.

I would go for it since you likely won't find anything under $5k with a complete interior. Just bring $3k in your pocket and show it to him. Then have an additional $600 in the car in case he plays hardball.

Check the pop top canvas for holes. Check the roof gutters for rust. I know weld-tec offers a lift kit for this van if you really want to get wild.

Lastly, there is something to be said for proximity. I live in southern CA and have bought vans in FL, TX, CO, and Colorado again. They are hard to find nearby.
Thanks for the encouragement! I checked the canvas pretty well and didn't see any voids, all windows are in tact, mesh looks good, etc. He did say he found a small leak somewhere up there and silicone'd it and hasn't had an issue since.

And yes, this van is about 20 minutes away from my house!
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Old 05-12-2020, 06:50 AM   #10
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Big 3rd Generation Fan

You can solve the hill-climb problem with new (junk yard) gears in the differential. But, mileage will suffer.
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