The Brougham was the second motorhome I looked at. The first was a 1969 Cabana – which looked more like a bus than a motor home, flat faced and 27 feet long. It was gorgeous and classic, inside and out – but the owner had never driven it once. He had bothered to rebuild the motor and replace several parts but claimed something was amiss with the chassis. The only way to find out how much it would cost to fix would be to tow the thing to a mechanic and get a quote, spending hundreds on tow fees just to be told the fix would cost thousands. On top of all of this, even if the fix was reasonable, the man had never driven it and therefore had no idea how the tranny, radiator or basically anything else besides the motor was working.
I had seen the ,73 Brougham on Craigslist and called on it once already. It was not at the top of my list because it didn’t have an air conditioner but everything else sounded good for the price. It had 85k miles, second owner and drove “great”. When we went to go take a look, the previous owner nervously said over and over again “I just think it would be better to be honest with you” when stating anything negative. I tend not to listen to anything desperate people say when I’m buying something from them and this was no exception. It was fairly obvious the RV was old, in pretty good shape but would need maintenance. Of course it ran great – except for it being out of gas when we first attempted to fire it up. It’s not rare that someone handy with tools will make a car run like a champ just long enough to pawn it off though – It wouldn’t have been the first time I drove away with a car that ended up having a bad motor. This time I was a little more cautious than with some of my previous cheap cars. We checked all the fluids, color of smoke, listened closely to the motor, shifted through the gears, checked lights and whatever else we could think of. The test drive went well but as with any used car, I weighed my losses were the thing to die on me soon after. Estimating the worth of a vehicle while dead is often part of my buying process (because I only buy old cheap cars). With the RV I decided that it held its worth quite well, running or not.
The drive home went well except that I wasn’t exactly used to not being able to see anything next to or behind me. I had driven u-haul trucks before but not an RV and not with mirrors that shake out of position every 30 seconds.. I also hadn’t driven at all in 3 years. It was just about dark when we left and I followed Ross in his car about 7 miles across Portland through side streets and neighbourhoods. It wasn’t all bad until he decided to take 39th ave around Hawthorne, a narrow 2 way, 4 lane street with cars parked on both sides, bikes everywhere and the lane next to you not nearly wide enough for a car let alone an RV. I eventually just got off after one too many “holy crap that felt close” encounters and took side streets the rest of the way. We later discovered that on top of taking all the wrong streets, the windows and stairs were left out – Classic first time RV owner mistake I imagine (I’m calling it that anyway).
At first we didn’t do anything with the RV. I parked it very successfully in one of the car spots outside the apartment and it fit pretty much perfectly. I was in finals week and didn’t really have the time to work on it, hang out in it or even clean it until that ordeal was over. Then after finals, I went to Mexico for 2 weeks. I went out and started it every day or so because the previous owner had mentioned that both batteries, the starter battery and one stored in the side panel, were almost dead but while I was in Mexico it didnt get started as often and by the time I got back they were both completely dead. We turned in both batteries and replaced the starter battery which did exactly as expected, started it. Now that I was back I had the time, although not the money, to find a mechanic and schedule some work. I had filled the RV up the day we bought it, costing around $50 – a few weeks later, although it was running, it was about half empty. I had noticed a gas smell while driving it and starting it but thought it was maybe a bad muffler, or that I was flooding it when I started it. Turns out it was just straight leaking gas from the fuel pump. Being as this was a little dangerous to drive with, I had it towed by a large toothless man who worked for Beaver Towing to my new mechanic of choice. $300 later it was fixed and we scheduled a tune up and oil change, $300 later that was finished as well. I asked the mechanic what else he saw wrong with it and he stated word for word “we check out all new vehicles that come here so we can give you a quote on any other work it needs and this RV is in great condition, I’m jealous really”. Little did I know he was a bit of a lying bastard and we would later discover that it needs a new manifold, shocks and a rebuilt carburetor.
Many things are too good to be true but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth it anyway.