It’s the Southwind!
Thanks for all the great guesses on YouTube, Facebook, and here for our “Which RV did we choose?” game. We appreciate your comments!
Much to our surprise, after looking at literally hundreds of RVs online and a few in person over the past year or so, we fell in love with a 2004 Fleetwood Southwind 37A. It’s quite a story.
As you may remember, we had some pretty clear wants and needs in mind for our RV. We wanted a coach with bunk beds, 35 feet or less, and used but probably a 2013 or newer. So, when our friends Adam and Helena called to say that they’d found our “perfect RV” and sent a couple photos of the Southwind in an RV repair lot, we pretty much humored them by agreeing to take a look at it while we were in the area checking out RVs—especially a Newmar Bay Star—at a nearby dealer.
Despite the persistent rain and cold, we checked out several RVs that didn’t appeal for one reason or another. And the Newmar? It was pretty nice, and it’s a brand known for excellent quality. But it was too expensive, lacked several must-have features, and had a few quirks.
So we headed over to Bornmann’s RV in Glassboro, NJ, to see this motorhome our friends were so excited about. On the way I (Jeff) was actually griping about how easily they had found a great used RV at an amazing price without hardly looking. “I’m getting pretty discouraged,” I told Kathy, “and what I really want is for God to just drop ‘our RV’ into our laps—and soon!” She knew how impatient I’ve been, and encouraged me to trust God’s timing and provision.
Like I said, Bornmann’s isn’t so much an RV dealer as a repair, inspect, and modify shop for RVs. The owner also keeps some units on his lot for consignment sale and for storage.
WHAT WE LIKED
As soon as we stepped inside the Southwind, we felt like we’d found our RV! As we took a closer look, some of the things that appealed to us were:
- The spacious feel of the coach, even with the slides closed. Remember, we need room for three dogs, a cat, and occasionally our three young-adult kids!
- Two slides—one large slide for the entire living and kitchen area, and another for the bedroom
- The light-colored woodwork that gives a brighter feel to an RV’s interior (Kathy’s clear preference over darker wood)
- The big four-door RV refrigerator
- The comfortable dinette
- The big bathroom and shower
- The large counter space in the kitchen
- The porcelain commode and bathroom sink (most are plastic)
- The generous storage space, both inside and out
- The exterior design, without all the whirls and swirls of most newer RVs
- The living room floor plan with TWO swivel rocker-recliners in addition to a comfortable upholstered sofa
- The cab area that has a driver’s-side door (most class As just have a door into the cabin area)
- The passenger seat with a pull-out desk with storage underneath it and another flip-up storage area for additional storage at your fingertips
- The queen bed with nightstands on both sides
The built-in washer/dryer (which we weren’t really even wishing for)
- The built-in satellite dish
- The driver’s seat – the most comfortable of any I’ve sat in
- The coach itself is solidly built and was so well cared for that it feels almost new.
WHAT WE DIDN’T MUCH CARE FOR:
- The sofa – It’s an unappealing dark green with ribbing that feels outdated, and it’s a jack-knife, which cannot really sleep two grown kids comfortably like a traditional tri-fold sleeper-sofa can (at least short-term).
- The lack of bunks – Despite bunks as an initial must-have, we decided that we can modify the RV somehow for the few weeks that all three kids are with us.
- The carpet – It’s somewhat faded and worn, with a few bad stains.
- The TVs – “antique” tube models.
- The length – 37 feet, which is two feet longer than our ideal length (although only six inches longer than second-favorite coach)
- The age and mileage – Although the RV has less than 7,000 miles on it, which sounds great for a 2004, we know that low mileage can sometimes be a problem if an RV hasn’t been broken in (and initial problems discovered and fixed).
There’s a story behind the extremely low mileage. The owners bought the coach expecting to travel, but they ended up parking it at the Jersey shore every summer and commuting to it like a second home. In winter, it was stored and serviced at Bornmann’s.
We went back the next week to take a second, closer look on a bright and sunny day and take it on a test drive. It was quiet, smooth, and easy to drive.
What ultimately sold us, besides the many unique features and spacious and bright interior, was the great asking price! Without going into detail, the price was ONE-HALF to ONE THIRD that of many other coaches we’d considered (including those in our YouTube video)! We negotiated on a final price that includes new tires and new slide awnings as part of the deal. Just when I was once again feeling discouraged, God came through!
The next day Gene Bornmann called us with the news we’d been waiting for: Offer accepted! We are very excited—and a bit nervous about such a big investment. But mostly excited. After Christmas we’ll head back to Glassboro and take some more photos and put together a video tour for you on our YouTube channel.
With some of the money we’ve saved, we plan to do a little interior remodeling to make the motorhome better meet our needs and taste. What do you think will be the first thing to go? Did I hear someone say “the green sofa”? You guessed it! That sofa is in a nice, big 83-inch space, so we have a couple of different ideas. The easiest would be to replace it with a traditional tri-fold pull-out queen-size sleeper sofa that will actually sleep two. Another option we’re going to look into (although more expensive) is a sofa that converts into bunk beds. Really! Sofa by day, bunk beds by night.
For those of you with RV experience, can anyone tell us how you handle the seatbelts if you buy a non-RV-specific sofa? And could we even get a traditional sofa into the RV (through the door or front window)?
The green carpet will also have to go, though we can have it cleaned and live with it for a while. We might replace it with vinyl tile flooring and a few rug runners to protect the floors and simplify cleaning, and providing a no-slip zone for the dogs and kitty.
So that’s our little “big reveal”! Did you guess it? If you have any advice or wisdom to share, we hope you’ll put them in the comments below. Just don’t tell us we chose the wrong one. It’ll really stress us out!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, happy 2017!
Jeff & Kathy