I'm shopping for a used 2wd Sportsmobile, probably older (but clean). I've seen a lot of them in photos (searched sold ones, photo albums, blogs, etc.), and I have read a lot of previous threads here on the Sportsmobile forum. Great info! Since I did take the time to search/read, I hope you won't mind me asking a couple of questions that are obviously not original, but that I would like to put my own twist on.
1) Top style. Most of the used SMB's in my vintage/range seem to have either the PH top, or a "higher" fixed top (with a longish slider on each side). So those seem to be the most likely I will be choosing between. Unfortunately, I can't really "Try and buy" both! I'd like to lay out my thoughts here, and then I would really appreciate your input and responses (because you all have actual experience with them!).
a) Fixed high top:
-More cabinetry (useful for me on long trips).
-No need to lift top (I plan to put the weight of solar panels on top).
-Always there in usable form, so for stealthing at a Wal-Mart or rest area (which I do a lot) I won't need to be stooping.
- If I need to take off suddenly due to hinky situation, nothing to lower.
- This is sort of subjective, but they just "feel" bulky to me, and more like "any old blobby conversion van."
- No opportunity to have that tent-like feel (but I don't think I would end up using it that way much?)
- Easy to overload, weight-wise, up high?
(Note: I won't be garage-storing so in that way height is not an issue.)
b) PH top
-Again, subjective, but has that "alternative" Westy feel, vs. the 80's lecherous conversion van feel.
- Just looks less like I'm "living in there" and more like a regular van.
- Lots of light and air when up.
- Better mileage/handling driving when down? Not sure if that's true.
- Wouldn't put up when stealthing at rest area or Wal-mart, so would be stooping.
- Less secure against wildlife/weirdos when up.
- What happens if it's raining and you need to leave - lower it wet? That sounds maybe yucky.
- Top may be heavy to lift/lower with Solar panels on top?
- Much less cabinetry (this is important to me.... I think)
- More potential for wet and leaks?
So, I would be very pleased if any of you would weigh in on my list - or add thoughts that I may have missed. I tend to take a lot of longer road trips, so do a lot of "stopping for the night" at Rest Areas, Wal-Marts, 24-hour grocery stores, etc. I have a tiny camper now, but I HATE how when I stop, I have to get out of my car and go into the camper, thereby announcing to the world, "here I am, camping, alone." And then I feel a bit trapped if something raises my hackles.
Years ago, I had a small truck with a large topper, and it had a window-sized pass through from cab to back. Not as convenient as a van, by far, but I *could* get into the front if I needed to head out, even if it was not elegant.
A related question: If I were camping in the back-country, then I WOULD want to put the PH top up. In an emergency, if I felt I need to roll, could I drive at all with the top raised? I mean, I know I *could* but how damaging would it be? Say I drove a mile on a smooth gravel road or something (not anticipating a high-speed chase; just more the feeling that "hmm, good time to move on a bit." OF course many times I might just take a moment to put the top down (not sure how long that needs to be).
Second topic: Striping.
Almost all the older, used SMB's I have seen have what is to me, godawful striping that just screams "cheesy conversion van from the 80's" (even if the SMB's are from the 90's - guess the striping style hung around for a while). I hate them!!
I have experience removing vinyl names and stripes from boats, but... at least in the photos, these often look like they might be painted on and/or clear-coated? They just look so shiny and seamless in photos. Are they ever? Or are they always vinyl graphics?
If they are painted/clearcoat, then what's involved in removing them? (Sounds much more like body/paint work, which I'm not experienced in at all.)
This one is not a question, but just to say how relieved I was to do some research here on the forum and find out that I can remove the often-ugly running boards. I especially dislike the fiberglass ones that include fender flares. The aluminum ones don't hugely bother me to look at, but I find they are actually make it more awkward to get in and out of the front seats. I initially wasn't sure if they were fastened through the body, but it sounds like they are fastened below the body line (plus a bit of tape). Whew!
Thanks to anyone who read this whole post
and I will be appreciative of any replies!