As you may or may not know I am selling my 2003 Show Hauler conversion. It has only been one week and from the conversations I have had with potential buyers, dealers and insiders, along with viewing the used market, the conversion industry is turmoil.
Buyers are uneducated
- I really thought that at least racers would be familiar with conversions, but I was totally wrong. When I am asked how many miles are on my conversion and I tell them 567,000 they all gasp! Not one of them asks what has been done to update the chassis. None of them have done any research on Class 8 truck or what they are about. To me it is totally astonishing that people who plan on plunking done a considerable chunk of change have not at least done some research, let alone on the conversion itself! People, a Class 8 truck has been designed to run up to and beyond 1,000,000 miles. A Class 8 truck has also been designed to easily and relatively inexpensively be updated to like new condition. In my case we replaced belts, hoses, radiator, air-lines, brakes, tires, wheels, bearings and more. This update along with the price of the truck is a fraction of the cost of buying new, but is also every bit as reliable as new. So if you are a buyer and you do your homework you can save yourself a ton of money by purchasing a conversion on a used chassis over new and have the same reliability. I also recommend a buyer do some research on the conversion companies themselves. Don't base your decision to purchase a conversion just on price! Look deeper! Construction and fit & finish would be a start. There is so much more to this problem, but I don't have time to go into now. I plan on doing some posts on this subject alone in the future.
Unstructured dealer networks
- I will begin by saying that if you are considering building your own conversion stop! #1. Save yourself alot of grief and get on the racer classifieds and you will find absolutely incredible prices on professionally built conversions.(not saying a professional conversion means superior quality, so do your homework, if your going to use it as camper or "lite" use you may get away with some of them, but buyer beware, there is junk out there) And I am talking crazy low prices. #2. If you ever plan on selling your self built you are going to get nothing for it, you will loose your ass, so as a investment goes it will be like buying Enron stock. So if building a self built is a hobby for you, you are good to go, hobbies use money, not make it(usually).
What has happened is that every trailer dealer has seen conversions as a new source of revenue, and many have gone out and bought a few to put on their lots. I can bet that the majority of them know nothing about them, and saw it as a opportunity to make big bucks. Well many of them have had these sit on their lots to long and are now dumping them on the market at ridiculously low prices and I am assuming very close to cost. I am sure legitimate dealers are loving these guys. Also you have very wealthy racers (guys who race as a hobby and have big big bucks to burn) and these guys are now turning in their first go around rig to a dealer for a major loss and building a new one. So these used rigs are going for super low prices. (BTW: I'll let you guess who's winning the new conversion business battle from these now experienced buyers, because alot of these guys are finding that quality really does matter.)
New Conversion Manufacturers
And last but not least(and by no means this is all of it, but I will follow up down the road) you have new builders who don't have a clue. A Class 8 truck rides like a Class 8 truck. Even with air-ride, you get in the rough stuff the whole thing is going to take a beating. Do you see any trucks with sleeper have heavy oak cabinets hung in there? Truck company's design there interiors to with stand the beating they know that interior is going to encounter. And of course the lighter the better for them, but they wouldn't even think about. So if you start hanging heavy cabinets without the proper structure your going to have problems down the road. I can already see some companies are skimping on the structure and it ain't going to be long before you see these forsale. And it already is starting, and since very few buyers are educated it is pulling the whole market into the crapper.
As I mentioned there are many other issues that are affecting the industry and as I find time I will address this. But what this all means is that the market is ripe with incredible deals for the guy who has done his homework. Also bad news travels fast, and although you would think that this would hurt the builders putting out junk, the racer market is not quite saturated with conversions or educated buyers for that matter and there still is the RV market to tap. I think you will see a separation in pricing between the good builders & the not so good, but that won't happen at least for the used stuff until buyers educate themselves and not buy based just on price.
BTW --> http://truckconversion.net/forsale/