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Old 06-14-2024, 01:54 PM   #1
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Sportsmobile or transit? Thoughts?

I realize this is a Sportsmobile forum, but I digress.

Have owned multiple vans over the last 8 years with multiple buildouts, and a Sportsmobile has always been my holy grail. I finally have traded my way up and have enough money to finally acquire one of these beauties, but now that the transit is around, the ecoboost is tempting and calling my name. I finally just sold my lifted RV, and not gonna lie, the 7-8 mpgs I got on it definitely was hurting my wallet. I've always lusted after the 7.3, but have only ever worked on gas vehicles. I love the pop top and relative aerodynamics of the econoline body (much better than an RV) but the speed of the ecoboost is also tempting.

I guess what I'm saying is, do Sportsmobiles still hold up in todays world of eco boosted transits? I'm worried that the 7.3, while legendary, will be a slug compared to modern engines. I've heard horror stories of the 6.0 (even bullet proofed) and the v10 seems like it would still only be getting 9mpg.

On the flip side, I worry I wont have nearly as much access offroad in a transit, and out here in the west it seems camp spots are becoming fewer and harder to find.

Anyone want to weigh in?

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Old 06-15-2024, 03:21 AM   #2
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Sounds like you want to compare Econolines to Transits.

One can get a Transit Sportsmobile and there are options for AWD, 4WD, and lifts.

Couple members who have had both can chime in.
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Old 06-15-2024, 07:11 AM   #3
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IF this is one of the most important factors:

"On the flip side, I worry I wont have nearly as much access offroad in a transit, and out here in the west it seems camp spots are becoming fewer and harder to find."

Then you are likely headed towards an E Series 4x4 or GMC (Quigley)

If speed, modern manners and costs are the major drivers then the Transit is the path.

Ability to prioritize, compromise and balance ALL of what these rigs can be and not be is always a challenge. The way to get to your decision involves honesty, reality, and macro/micro perspectives.

In your post you brought up "running costs" and only focused on mpg deltas. There are many more deltas that increase/decrease costs that should be considered - registration, insurance, maintenance, depreciation, sales tax, cost of components/accessories. Reality check re mpg is maybe the delta is 5 mpg between a light weight Transit and a heavy E series. IF you put 10,000 miles on your rig a year the difference in gas usage is about 300 gals of fuel per year. 15/16 mpg vs 10/11 mpg. A built out van w v10 driven around 65mph is going to be 11 to 13. A Transit built out w EcoBoost around 15/16. You can do the math. A 7.3 diesel is around 13/15 with a 4GAL oil change @ 5k mi intervals. Each one of those gets worse w offroad travel.

We have owned and driven each one of the above and typically put 10,000mi/yr. As related to fuel usage for us, most important is RANGE. The $100/ month difference in fuel means nearly nothing when I am on a Baja beach, at mountain ski/hiking spot, the incredible vistas we can get to /experience comfortably/safely. And be able to stay for a long period when we get there.

A bit of philosophy: As I get older, part of the metrics are "at the end" what choices I made going through life will I be happy with. Getting to see and experience something wonderful vs saving $30 is a choice. Some people are happy w pictures and finances are very important to getting through day to day. Been there. But I also have friends with millions in their accounts and in their 80's telling me they waited too long to do something and now they cannot do due to bad health or diminished abilities. They would trade LOTS of money to go back to a healthier time and not be so focused on accumulating $$ that cannot buy back time. Always balance. At 66yo now, I approach decisions w a different set of considerations vs 30. HOWEVER, my considerations today are a result of EVERY decision I made from age 15, right? Always trying to stay in balance between the now and future/ adventure and financial security. In my late 40's I arrived at the viewpoint "financial security" cannot be derived from fear based thinking because the result is being in my 80's with lots of "financial security" and not much in the adventures bank account.

So, back to these dream machines - what is most important (while being practical) needs to be the driving considerations. Also, configurations can be changed as needs/ interests change/evolve. You, having built and explored in multiple different rigs have certainly experienced this!

And you should certainly check out a CCV pop top vs an SMB pop top before final decision.

Some pictures to consider (each are special moments/memories I can reflect upon and treasure from now until when my body is not able to get there).

btw None of these are a SMB, although one started life as an SMB before getting a full work over.
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Old 06-15-2024, 12:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1der View Post
A bit of philosophy: As I get older, part of the metrics are "at the end" what choices I made going through will I be happy with. Getting to see and experience something wonderful vs saving $30 is a choice. Some people are happy w pictures and finances are very important to getting through day to day. Been there. But I also have friends with millions in their accounts and in their 80's telling me they waited too long to do something and now they cannot do due to bad health or diminished abilities. They would trade LOTS of money to go back to a healthier time and not be so focused on accumulating $$ that cannot buy back time. Always balance. At 66yo now, I approach decisions w a different set of considerations at 30. HOWEVER, my considerations today are a result of EVERY decision I made from age 15, right? Always trying to stay in balance between the now and future/ adventure and financial security. In my late 40's I arrived at the viewpoint "financial security" cannot be derived from fear based thinking because the result is being in my 80's with lots of "financial security" and not much in the adventures bank account.
This is the best advice I've seen in years. I'm also in my 60's and feel the same way. The most important thing is to just get out there, not what you're out there in! We've all seen those tombstones.. "I wish I would have spent more time.." fill in the blank.
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Old 06-15-2024, 01:39 PM   #5
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When I turned 50 a friend told me “you now have more memories than you will experiences”…this resonated in my brain for some time, the more I pondered it the more I despised the prospect. Since then I’ve been motivated by his comment, and (as 1der so eloquently shared) I’ve taken a different path since then and refuse to ‘be that guy’. The path is easy if you can decipher (without outside influence) what will make YOU the happiest.
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Old 06-15-2024, 02:28 PM   #6
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I do not want to derail gac1222 thread. My share was around lots of life stuff but in this case around a $$ driven decision (mpg) and its impact of life experiences.

After having owned a few SMB's and worked on many more, I would prefer to build my own. SMB is great platform for anyone who does not have the wherewithal to do their own. Everything is there and for the most part works. The drawback is it is done with far less attention to detail, space utilization, best practices and personalization than one could accomplish on there own.

Transits are very nice rigs but definitely are limited in wheel size (unless crazy amounts of $$ are thrown at a lift). They are refined, and make me wonder how a 1 ton van could be such. Often 80+ mph was a surprise at how fast I was really going.

Our 2002 7.3 is well behaved and capable.. The tuner does a nice job of enhancing drivability. It likes 65mph, will willingly do 80+ but not any where near as smoothly as a Transit. I am pretty sure it will get down a long stretch of rutted road and further down a sandy beach than the Transit.

All a matter of choice/comprimise/priorities.
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Old 06-15-2024, 06:12 PM   #7
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I cannot compare a transit to my SMB RB50, I just haven't had the chance to do so. We've owned ours for around 14 years, 120K miles with lots of added mods along the way and no real maintenance terror even with the "dreaded 6.0". I'm tuned to get approx 17 mpg at 65-68 mph. Keeping the oil clean and cool is the key, being in the PNW probably helps. So does doing most of my own work.

I've owned 4 vans since high school, the SMB puts all of the good from past features together and it is a blast to drive. Going to a transit may happen as we get older - 65, now. The SMB is really best suited for mobile camping vs RV'ing in my opinion.

No matter which way you go, use it and don't count $$$, either will pay back more than they cost.
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Old 06-15-2024, 06:37 PM   #8
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As a 20-year owner of an E-Series Sportsmobile who is considering getting a new van someday soonish, I have been attracted to the driveability (more pleasant car-like experience) and MPG of a Transit or Sprinter, but the lack of suspension travel and low range transfer case just wouldn't work for me.

Also, I've been told these European vans aren't built with the same heavy-duty bodies as my E-Series -- and I already have lots of trouble breaking my E-Series in interesting ways, including cracking the body where it meets the frame.

But me -- I like the game of driving to difficult places -- navigating old eroded Baja roads, scraping my way up ATV tracks, etc.

Not everyone cares to do that stuff.
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Old 06-15-2024, 08:54 PM   #9
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I drove a few transits, some AWD, and one really beat up Quigley E series belonging to the GSA pool at my last job. I personally own an E350 with a 4x4 and camper conversion.

The transits drive better on pavement than the 4x4 E series, in my experience. If the majority of what you do is on paved or well maintained gravel roads, the drivability advantage goes to the transit.

The speed/mpg engine advantage goes to the ecoboost as well. 80 mph cruise speed and mpg are not all of the deciding factors in engine choice for me. The 7.3 (either diesel or the new "Godzilla" gasser) and the V10 are truck engines. Low rpm grunt is nice to have in a heavy vehicle.

1der's math is spot on. I just got back from a 1500 mile mostly highway trip. My mpg ranged from 10.5 to 13.6, mostly around 11.7 (checked at each fill up). Using 1der's numbers, I used one tank (30 gallons) more than a transit would, on the same trip. Doesn't matter much to me. If I couldn't afford the gas I wouldn't have went on the trip. Let's be honest, these vehicles are for fun. One way or another, fun costs money.

But most of my van miles are not from road trips. Normally, about 25% of my van miles are on BLM or Forest service roads or trails. Sometimes these roads are muddy or snow covered. Frequently I go down washed out trails or into rough camping spots. Now the advantage goes to the E series. True, I have 4:88 gears, lockers, and 35" tires that a transit doesn't have. However, the mpg figures I posted were as my van is equipped.

I'm not sure a transit with the same equipment would get 15/16 mpg on the highway. If it had 35" tires, and the lift to accommodate the tires, I'm sure the drivability would suffer.

Transits are pretty cool, and I think we would still have fun in a transit. My old E series suits me better though.
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Old 06-16-2024, 07:49 AM   #10
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My first van was a 2005 SMB - V10 - but not fully tricked out with Alum front/rear bumpers, etc., maybe 9,250 pounds. I thought about a diesel - but my brother (42 years at GM/Saturn) said "you don't want a diesel" - it'll cost you 30% more for parts and labor - smelly fuel - loud, etc. I wanted to drive up to Alaska multiple times from FL - MI - TN where I lived -- and when I calculated cost of gas vs diesel -- the gas SMB would cost about $ 800 more per year than diesel (back in the day diesel was more expensive than today). I'm on my third V10 - and money for fuel ? - I never looked back -
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