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Old 04-08-2011, 05:52 PM   #21
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Re: Why SMB?

I am still a wannabe, but I will pitch in a reason for the large fuel tank that hasn't been mentioned. Some people like to have a single fuel for all purposes and a large reserve of it. Diesel E350s are no longer offered by Ford, but you can find them used ( some already converted to SMB and some not). There are some diesel SMBs that have a diesel generator, a diesel cook top, and a diesel heater, all tied in to the main fuel tank. You can survive in the outback for a long time on 46 gal of diesel. Some gasoline models have a gasoline generator tied in to the main fuel tank. These usually have propane for the heater and cook top (if there is a built in one). I think gasoline furnaces and cooktops exist, but they are a lot more dangerous than diesel or propane. Tapping into a 46 gal gas tank gives considerable fuel supply to a gasoline generator, though you still need propane. SMB still offers all diesel Sprinters, but SMB is not licensed to convert them to 4WD.

The only other thing we are considering is a Bengal or Siberian Tiger, built by Provan on Ford F350 or F450 crew cab 4X4 pickups. They are open and have more room than SMBs, but are more for off-pavement mildly rough road, not really capable of the off road stuff an SMB can handle. They do not have lifts as high as SMB nor the independent front suspension offered on SMB. They also do not have the awe inspiring look that an SMB has.

BTW, we are in the Sacramento area too. We sent down to the factory for a visit and were most impressed.
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Old 04-11-2011, 07:06 PM   #22
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Re: Why SMB?

I'll add another item to this discussion with a short story. Back in 2000, we needed to get out of a lease on a Jeep Grand Cherokee which we were using for camping, etc. We went to a sportsman's show and Sportsmobile was there. We had never seen a SMB before or even knew they existed. Prior to this show, we had always held the position that, as old backpackers, we'd never own a traditional RV. But SMBs were different. After talking to Alan Feld (owner of SMB West) at the show for quite a while, we left, thinking about how we might finance it! The next day, I suddenly realized that we were on a path to purchase a $80,000 4x4 SMB (remember, this was back in 2000) without really knowing anything about these vehicles.

So the next day, I e-mailed a writer/friend of mine who test-drove RVs for a couple of RV magazines for a living...everything from small conversions to 40-foot plus pusher luxury buses...and asked him about Sportsmobile vans. He wrote back that he was of the opinion that SMBs were one of the highest-quality RVs that he had ever tested, even the $250,000 RVs. He added that, if he could afford one, he'd buy a SMB. Coming from a professional RV writer, that was a very comforting recommendation!

As for the larger gas tank question, one more advantage. We have two 28-gallon gas tanks which gives us 56 gallons for about a 675-mile range. Yesterday, I filled up in Arizona near the Arizona/California border for around $3.59/gallon. That allowed me to bypass the gas stations around Bakersfield, California (with the highest gas in the country according to the national news tonight at $4.79/gallon) to get back to the Bay Area where gas is ONLY $4.11/gallon.
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