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Old 08-04-2011, 01:46 PM   #1
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Buying SMB sight-unseen

Hello there!

So I caught the SMB bug a couple of months ago, and have been looking around at what is available. Unfortunately, I can't justify speccing out and having a brand new vehicle built, as much as I would like to.

Looking in the used market is a frustrating affair - the only machines that I have turned up locally have been over my self imposed budget, and they are few and far between.

I have found a couple of 4x4 camper setups, but somehow ... they're just not the same!

I have found a couple further afield, but am having real heartburn about buying a vehicle sight unseen. How do you guys get the confidence to drop a bunch of cash on a vehicle based off a sellers description?

Alternatively, anyone in the Bakersfield area want to take a look at a vehicle for me?!

Cheers!
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:01 PM   #2
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Re: Buying SMB sight-unseen

I purchased mine sight unseen, but had it checked out by a friend and the local Ford dealership. Prior to that, I looked at as many as possible, anything that came up locally I went and looked at. I found most Sportsmobile owners were more than willing to show the van understanding I was not necessarily going to buy. Where are you located?
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:34 PM   #3
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Re: Buying SMB sight-unseen

I'm in Everett, just north of Seattle, and will admit I've never set foot in an SMB, just seen them around and through web research. We've looked at a few class b style vans, and even found a couple of 4x4s, but no smbs as yet.
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Old 08-04-2011, 04:59 PM   #4
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Re: Buying SMB sight-unseen

I am happy to show you mine anytime, just send me a PM.
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Old 08-04-2011, 05:02 PM   #5
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Re: Buying SMB sight-unseen

We live in a pretty SMB dense area. You should have come to the Overland Rally last weekend. I think there were a dozen there over the course of the weekend. It was a pretty sight.

I'm too busy the next week or so with visiting family. After that if you want to meet between Renton and Everett you can take a look at mine too.

If you can't find what you want one option worth considering is finding a used Ford van of recent vintage and having SMB Fresno do the 4x4 conversion and penthouse top, then slowly tackling the rest yourself.

--Peter
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Old 08-04-2011, 05:47 PM   #6
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Re: Buying SMB sight-unseen

I did know what I wanted and the only issue was the condition of the van. I looked online, found a local Ford dealer, checked for any nasty feedback on the dealership with the BBB etc and called them, had the owner take the van in and I paid for a really thorough vehicle check. Did that twice, ruled out two vans and bought the third. Worked out ok for me but I admit I was a little nervous until I actually got to see it.
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Old 08-04-2011, 09:42 PM   #7
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Buying SMB sight-unseen

My wife and I found one for sale about a year ago. Hat was our first experience with a SMB and we got hooked. We could not buy that one because we were in the middle of refinancing our house. It took us another six months of looking before we found another one. When we did it had just what we were looking for. We were on Craigslist every day as well as the local paper.

Keep looking. Yours is out there waiting for you.


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Old 08-04-2011, 09:58 PM   #8
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Re: Buying SMB sight-unseen

We flew from Seattle to Salt Lake City to buy our SMB - we saw it for the first time in the parking lot of the Salt Lake City airport. We bought a one-way ticket to SLC - just knew that we'd drive our SMB home. Worked out great. The previous owners even stocked it for us.

What we did first - set a budget - max price that we were willing to pay; used Search Tempest to look for SMBs for sale on Craigslist throughout the US; monitored on a daily basis SMBs that came on sale; called up any ads that were w/in our price range w/the features we wanted; agreed to buy a SMB after talking to the owner on the phone; mailed a big deposit check; took a leap of faith and bought those one way plane tickets. We are completely happy! Sometimes you need to take a bit of a risk and trust other SMB owners. Good luck!
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Old 08-05-2011, 04:15 PM   #9
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Re: Buying SMB sight-unseen

Bought my 2003 SMB in 2004 from a guy in Boulder CO - I was living in CA at the time. It had around 8000 miles on it. I sent him a $10,000 check without even looking at the van. Flew one way and drove it back through two blizzards. Slept two nights in the snow and enjoyed every minute. Best investment I've made. The van and drive train are very good and the work the SMB does has held up for over 140,000 hard miles. Before buying an SMB van I priced all other options. They all were either more expensive than buying a used van or so time intensive that it was not worth the trouble. Best of luck.
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:15 PM   #10
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Re: Buying SMB sight-unseen

We had an almost identical experience as dstark. We knew what we wanted and were not in a rush to buy. We waited for exactly what we wanted to come available. Spent many months on tempest search and the SMB site waiting for what we wanted. When it came available we spoke to the owner extensively. We bought site unseen. Things we knew going into the purchase. Our price. The options we had to have vs wanted to have. We have spent time with friends that have one going over the SMB intricacies. We also have a 4WD background so knew what to expect with that. Lastly having a pop up trailer and travel trailer in the past we knew what to look for with the interior. All said. We knew exactly what we wanted and did NOT rush into a final decision. We are extremely happy with our purchase. Lucky SMB owners are honest and proud of their vehicles and will help you along the way. Good luck.
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