Originally Posted by Protagonist
That is not a hijack. It extends the original topic, and doesn't send it off at a tangent......
OK, I'll bite, at least a preliminary nibble, especially given that the original poster followed up by mentioning that they were trying to identify what *for them* would be the sweet spot on price.
The main benefit to choosing an older used Interstate (by that I mean primarily the T1N) is obviously the lower price. However, given:
(1) the scarcity of them in the market due to the facts that
(a) not many were produced in the first place, and
(b) owners tend to hold onto them; and
(2) the fact that most owners are early retirees who tend to take very good care of them, and
(3) the fact that the new Interstate prices have risen so dramatically,
the older used prices are actually not as low as you might expect. The earliest Interstates tend to hold their value. In in the hunt for our Interstate, the lowest price we saw was about $32,000, but that was for a private sale of a 2005 that had been partially gutted for tailgating purposes (sacrilege!) and probably was beyond being restored to original condition. For a used vehicle typically you're looking in the ask range of $40,000 - $60,000 even if the engine has 100,000+ miles on it. That being on a vehicle that was stickered around $95,000 to start with (depending on option package) which means it was probably sold new for comfortably less than that.
And those prices might sound mighty good compared to the $70,000 - $100,000 ask for a younger 3500 or the $150,000 ask for a brand new Grand Tour, but of course there's no such thing as a free lunch. The Airstream execution factor figures into this analysis very strongly. As has been opined many times in this forum, Interstates regardless of model year (to date, at least) are characterized by superb design but deeply flawed execution. When comparing different model years, I think that the relevant questions to ask are NOT whether it has this awning or that awning, or this macerator vs. that slinky. The real question is - how much agony are you willing to endure in the process of dealing with the inevitable maintenance, repairs, and upgrades? How much can you do DIY vs. do you have to wait weeks for service only to then pay a mechanic a larger hourly wage than you yourself probably make? IMO, older Interstates may cease to make financial sense if you're the type of person who has to contract everything out. What you save on the initial purchase price, you might end up spending in fees. If that's looking like it might be your scenario, you'd be better off buying a younger Interstate and forestalling those eventual costs.
When evaluating how much maintenance, repairs, and upgrades you can stomach, I think it's important to recognize that a lot of your energy might get expended in the NORMAL process of customizing your Interstate - forget about the EXTRAORDINARY portion of the energy you'll need to devote to troubleshooting and repairs. This is particularly true if you plan to use your Interstate in non-typical ways (e.g., internationally or for work purposes, both of which are among my intended uses).
As an illustration, let me give you some stats from our personal punch list, for our 2007 Interstate that was acquired in September 2014:
Total items on punch list - 54
Obligatory items (required repairs plus can't-live-withouts) - 18
Items that would characterize any Interstate of any model year - 19
Total items fulfilled to date - 27
So you can see that I've got 19 items on my list that would apply even if I were spending $150,000 on a new vehicle. Luckily for me, I have an overabundance of mental energy, but for many people, by the time they get done achieving what they WANT to do with the vehicle, they might not have much stamina left over for the less fun tasks that they NEED to do. This is a consideration that people tend to overlook.
I guess this turned out to be longer than a nibble at the topic.
When I told my father that my husband and I bought an RV, the first thing he did was deliver the classic joke, "I had a buddy who said that he had only two happy days with his RV - the day he bought it, and the day he sold it." It's a nod to the fact that these things are a handful no matter which purchasing strategy you adopt.