VW California

Chris McGraw has a post up on autoblog with a review of the 2018 Volkswagen California.

20 minutes. That’s how long it took someone to stop and ask me about the cherry red Volkswagen California I was driving.

“Is this the new Volkswagen van?” a woman in the passenger seat of a Dodge Charger asked while we were both stopped at a stoplight. “That looks nice.”

It was the first of many times that I was going to disappoint onlookers this week. No, the California isn’t the new van from VW. In fact, Volkswagen is simply celebrating the original California camper’s thirtieth anniversary this year, which is why Volkswagen shipped a fleet of them to Los Angeles. The fact that they’re in California has more to do with the name than a particular connection to the U.S. – no Californias have ever been sold here.

It is the thirtieth anniversary of this unique camper van, named after one of my favourite states.

Sadly, you can’t buy one in North America. You can buy it here though.

When we were travelling through Norway, there were RVs everywhere and a number of camper vans like the VW California.

Here is one photo and if you look towards the very back row, you can see a couple of camper vans with their tops up. Norway, despite having a very short summer season, has one of the highest levels of RV ownership in Europe.

A few reasons why VW doesn’t make the California available to North American consumers: safety tests and cost. Spending roughly $100,000 Canadian for a camper van — after exchange rates and taxes — would seem expensive for such a unique vehicle.

Treehugger made the following observation:

Who needs a big RV when you can travel in tried-and-true style? If only they sold it here.

A lot of people (including me) have a dream of hitting the road and seeing the world, or at least the continent. The Volkswagen camper always seemed to me to be the perfect escape vehicle; it is no larger than a car (smaller in footprint than a lot of American SUVs), yet they pack so much into that box that you can almost live in it. They are magical transformers.

Well, for us, we really like the big RV. Especially for being out on the road mostly full-time.

Jason of Jalopnik had this video overview of the VW California. Cool machine.

Roadhouse

Parked just a block away from my office is this Prevost XLII coach.

With so many bands coming into Kingston, I immediately assumed that this bus was a touring bus for musicians. And it was.

On the side of the coach was an engraved plate that read: Roadhouse Transportation Inc.

I found their website here. Not much content on that site at all really.

I did a bit more research and I found this overview of their company on Facebook:

Roadhouse Transportation was founded in 1976 by a seasoned touring musician who found it necessary for an alternate means of transportation during the first oil crisis of his generation. In the Seventies, the first overnight increase of nineteen cent gasoline to seventy five cent gasoline was just as shocking and hard to swallow as the increase that we are experiencing today. From this, Roadhouse was born.

Roadhouse proudly proclaims being the oldest company in this industry that remains constant and unchanged without the involvement of partners and the presence of investors. Our company has evolved with all of the different changes in creature comforts that are required on the road today. Roadhouse can undeniably claim their part and credit for all of the recent innovations that have occurred in the last 35 years in the entertainer coach industry.

Along with our fleet Prevost XL IIs, we also offer a selection of Prevost XLs that are available for tours with a smaller budget. All of our Prevost XLs have been remodelled and have many of the same features that a newer coach has, including showers, flat screen TV’s and satellite.

As fuel prices continue to rise, we are constantly looking for ways to help touring groups save money so they can continue to operate in a safe and comfortable manner. Please feel free to contact us for a quote or for any other questions regarding an upcoming tour or a coach sale.

I suspect that Roadhouse provides both bus and driver.

Used XLIIs are priced between $250,000 and $350,000 USD, considerably less than a new Prevost conversion. Based on some quick back of the envelope calculations, and assuming that Roadhouse buys used coaches, Roadhouse would need to charge about $30,000 – 50,000 USD per month to cover capital costs, maintenance, labour and related expenses like fuel which seems consistent with the daily rate of about $1,500 USD quoted by this supplier.

Must be a decent band if they can cover those rates.

Perhaps I should start a business in retirement, buy a used Prevost and drive some musicians around the country.

Best Use Of An Old Trailer?

GMC Motorhomes

I came across the ad at this website. Someone had purchased an old GMC Motorhome and had attempted to restore it. Unfortunately, the website that carried the story of their renovation is no longer active. The post which began the story, ends with this somewhat tragic observation:

The next few months would be challenging as we struggled with the reality of what lies ahead, and the costs of keeping a dormant RV around a dense city. The story will continue in my next post…

Sadly, the story never continued. Or at least I couldn’t find the ending to the story anywhere online. A failed renovation attempt?

The coach pictured above is a 1973 model produced by GM’s Truck and Coach Division. It was a 26-foot model powered by a 455 cubic inch, 7.5 Litre V8 engine with a three-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive, with a gross vehicle weight rating of 12,500 pounds for the 26-footer.

Not many were built. Just under 13,000 units were manufactured between 1973 and 1978. I have read that somewhere between 8,000 to 9,000 of these motorhomes are still running. There is even a group, GMCers, telling the world all about the GMC motorhome.

I’ve seen the GMC motorhome in a couple of movies: Twister and Stripes. I’ve never seen one in the field.

You could take a GMC motorhome and really bring it up to date by working with Creative Mobile Interiors. I have no idea how much it cost them to renovate this 1977 GMC motorhome. The coach looks amazing inside and out.

I suspect the purists would prefer to remain true to the original model and have it look like this one:

Trade Wars Are So Much Fun

I caught this on CNBC:

Thor Industries’ warning about rising tariff-related costs in its third-quarter earnings report sent shares plunging to 2018 lows, but CEO Bob Martin told CNBC on Thursday that the company is finding ways to blunt the impact.

“We thought it’d be minimal,” the CEO admitted in a “Mad Money” interview with Jim Cramer. “Today, they’re still kind of all over the board and we’re just finding ways to kind of counteract them whenever we can.”

For Thor, the United States’ largest recreational vehicle manufacturer, that means cutting raw costs and “de-contenting,” or taking certain ancillary products and features out of its higher end RVs.

Thor’s stock has been under pressure since the Trump administration enacted steel and aluminum tariffs in May, which hike Thor’s costs by stymieing cheap imports.

That is an interesting word, isn’t it?

De-contenting.

De-contenting means that you pay the same price, or sometimes more, for less.

This might not be the best time to purchase a new higher end RV from Thor.

Of course, trade wars hurt on both sides.

The Canadian dollar has slid below 76 cents which will make our first winter south in retirement considerably more expensive.

Hopefully the politicians and the bureaucrats in Canada and the U.S. come to a reasonable compromise.