After we made the decision to buy an RV, finding the one that was right for us turned out to be a time consuming task. We wanted to explore all of the available options which also included Class A,B and C motorhomes, hard-sided camper trailers and toy haulers. Traditional Pop-up trailers were quickly ruled out due to the fact that we have 3 dogs that are smart enough to realize a thin piece of canvas would be an easy enough obstacle to defeat on their way to chase a squirrel.
We knew this was going to be a substantial investment and we just needed to determine if we would be remodeling an older RV or purchasing a newer RV that was fresh and ready to go. I wasn’t opposed to rebuilding or remodeling an RV but my wife was skeptical that I would have the time to finish such a project in time to do some summertime camping.
It turns out that her gut feeling was correct, all of the “project” RVs that we looked at were not what I would consider to be a fast turnaround. We looked at gutted Class A and C motorhomes as well as 1980-ish campers that would have required structural repairs in addition to an interior update. I also took a little time to explore converting a newer cargo trailer into a camper just to find a compromise. After running the numbers it turns out that remodeling a used RV or converting a cargo trailer can be more expensive than anticipated.
Later on in our search for an RV we decided to just look at RVs that didn’t need any repairs. It was also decided that a motorhome would no longer on our shopping list. Motorhomes are dirt cheap around here right now and they just aren’t selling. My wife became concerned that we would not be able to sell ours in the future if it became necessary.
Our patience did eventually paid off when we found an decent used camper in our local Craigslist ads. When we took a closer look at it, my wife and I both knew that this was the one for us but the seller was little high on his price. We finally struck an acceptable deal a couple weeks later and the seller delivered it to us the very next day.
When doing the math, this camper did cost us quite a bit less than a remodel project. It’s a 2008 Wildwood with a more modern interior that was very well cared for. It turns out that this trailer has seen very little use and was stored indoors for the bulk of it’s life.
Now that our trailer had been acquired, a suitable tow vehicle was the next step. My 4 cylinder Jeep and my wife’s 6 cylinder SUV were not up to the challenge of towing a 4000 pound trailer. Obviously, truck shopping wasn’t near as tough as trailer shopping, there’s no shortage of car dealers in our town and craigslist allowed almost limitless choices regionally.
Finding a decent vehicle on craigslist proved to be a frustrating experience. I looked at about a dozen advertised vehicles and each one was a disappointment. Either the vehicle was misrepresented in the ad or the owner came across as less than truthful. We decided to limit our search to reputable dealers.
We finally found two vehicles that met our physical as well as financial needs. One was a 3/4 ton Ford cargo van that had just been turned in at the end of a lease and the other was a 1/2 ton 2-owner Suburban 4×4, local trade-in. Both trucks had the factory installed towing package. I’ve installed hitches in non-equipped vehicles before and I know that adding aftermarket wiring and a transmission cooler can cause it’s own special kind of headache so I insisted on finding a vehicle with the tow system installed at the factory. By the way, I did learn that the GM equipment code for a tow package is Z82. This made the search quite a bit easier.
I would have been happy with either vehicle so I let my wife make the final decision. She chose the Suburban. Her choice didn’t surprise me at all, she’s not the type of girl that would appreciate traveling in a loud, bare-bones cargo van. I was leaning towards the Suburban myself, I’ve always owned a 4 wheel drive and hated to get rid of my Jeep so getting the 4×4 Suburban softened the blow.
It paid off for us to shop around. The combined price of the trailer and tow vehicle in the photo above was less than the cost of a decent used pickup.