IT AIN'T ALL THIS SIMPLE!
Before any of you go off half cocked about importing an RV you need to visit another of our webpages for more information, lots more information! For instance, you definitely shouldn't plan on importing a van conversion (class B). The Canadian government simply won't allow them to be imported. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!
While we hadn't found the exact coach that we wanted, we had a pretty good idea of what qualities and characteristics it should have. We certainly knew what we DIDN'T want! We merely had to find something that fit. We started by contacting all the local dealerships, making ourselves known to their sales people. Our haunting began in earnest.
We were vastly disappointed. Almost no Class As fit the description. Most were far too big. Many had the same faulty floorplans as the relatively cheaper Class Cs. Others weren't constructed as well as we had grown to expect for a vehicle that would cost two or three year's salary or more. All were 20% to 50% more expensive than our meagre budget would allow.
Thus, Stan began searching the Internet for the motorhome of our dreams.
Well, it just seemed the natural thing to do. There were a number of reasons for this.
The major drawback, of course, was that we couldn't easily ask questions or enter into a dialogue with anyone. We'll have more to say about that a little farther on.
If you don't understand all that gobbledegook in the search strings here are a few tips on using Google. While the details may be different the basic philosophy will be the same with other search engines as well.
So, the first thing we did was fire up the old computer and call our friend, Google. Then we began entering various search criteria. Here are a few we tried.
As you can see, these typically produced tens of thousands of hits apiece. The biggest job was then to weed out the non-starters. Very soon we noticed that there are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of Web based classified ad sites that specialized in recreational vehicles in general and motorhomes in particular. We began bookmarking them so we could easily come back to them from time to time. Very soon we began concentrating on those with the largest inventories and deleting the smaller sites. Then, on average about every two weeks we'd visit each of them to search for the motorhome of our dreams. Mind you, this wasn't an intense search. We were just window shopping, getting a feel for the market and an idea of what prices were like across North America.
This isn't to say that we weren't still haunting the RV sales lots. Quite the contrary. We still have a lot to learn and those sales people are real goldmines of valuable information. In a couple of instances we made real pests of ourselves!
On each classified site we would use their advanced search engine and plug in appropriate search parameters to see what they had in our style, price range, what have you. (See below for an example.) Whenever we saw a motorhome that looked like it might be acceptable we'd search the Web for the manufacturer's site to try to find a floorplan for that particular model. Once in a while one or another dealer might have posted a floorplan even if the manufacturer had discontinued them.
If the floorplan looked reasonable, we'd download it and, using a graphics program, enlarge it and print off a copy on the inkjet printer. (The LaserJet always printed them in halftone mode, making accurate measurements all but impossible.) Then Stan would get out his trusty millimetre ruler and a calculator to estimate the size of various relevant parts like the length of the "queen" bed and the width of the narrowest portion of the passageway.
After several months of searching the ads we gradually developed a hypothetical concept of what our ideal retirement-home-on-wheels should be like.
Finally, during the last week in August 2003, Stan stumbled onto the website owned by Great Vehicles and used these search criteria. (Some time later we discovered that this coach was also advertised on RVCorner, RVSearch, KitUSA and probably several other sites as well.)
Of the several dozen hits that were reported only one, a 2002 Dolphin LX stood out as exceptional. (Note that at some time in the future that link will become inactive.) It was a bit longer than we had wanted, but it had tons of storage space and the floorplan looked as though Marguerite might be able to navigate it with minimal difficulty. Lastly, while the price was more than we had budgeted, it was quite reasonable considering the coach. Our budget be damned!
It was listed by The Motorhome Brokers in Maryland and the ad said that if we wanted more information we should contact them. We did.
While waiting for their response we did an Internet search for any data on that particular year and model and thereby found the National RV website with a floorplan. Stan downloaded the floorplan (accursed "pdf" file!) and with a millimetre ruler and a calculator was able to estimate the various important dimensions like the width of the bottleneck passageway between the main living area and the bedroom/bath area. (It had to be wide enough for Marguerite to get through with her walker.) It was beginning to look very good, very good indeed. The only snag was that on the floorplan the bed appeared to be one of those short-sheeting cheaters that most RV manufacturers attempt to foist off onto the public.
Harlan Ward of The Motorhome Brokers responded within a day, sending us no less than five separate E-mail postings with photographs as attachments. Those are the ones that you can view in the Mug Shots. In addition Harlan stated that if we had any additional questions he'd be happy to supply us with contact information for the owner of the motorhome. We immediately replied that we would very much like to speak with the owner. Within 24 hours we had the address and phone number for "Mrs. Smith" and were placing a call to her.
EASY TIPS FOR CROSSING THE BORDER
We have crossed the US/Canadian border in both directions many times and have had remarkably little trouble. (Now we've jinxed ourselves. Just wait and see!) Here is a discussion of some of the things that we've discovered that will make crossing the border go a lot easier for you.
The motorhome was in the Austin, Texas area, 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) away in a foreign country! As with many other Canadians we'd brought things across the border from the States from time to time before this, but the most expensive items didn't exceed CDN $200. This motorhome would easily cost 500 or 600 times that! And, while we knew that motorhomes were imported into Canada from the USA all the time, we knew nothing of how to do it or if it were even possible for novices like us.
So, by Labour Day 2003 we were pretty sure we'd found what we wanted. Now all we had to do was negotiate the terms of sale with a person we had never met, for an amount of money we didn't have, for a motorhome we had never seen and weren't even sure we could import into Canada! What the heck! Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
To continue the story you should return to the Game Plan and continue reading.
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Copyright © 2003, Stanley A. Schultz and Marguerite J. Schultz.
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This page was initially created on 2003-November-04.
The last revision occurred on 2005-December-05.