We are often asked how we come up with the prices for our campers. The following is a write-up which covers our pricing policy, what we do to get a camper up to GoWesty standard and the flaws and myths with idea of "market prices."
Where does GoWesty come up with the prices for the VW campers and Weekenders they sell? It seems like GoWesty is getting way, way over what you can get one for on the open market or what is listed in the Kelly Blue Book. What is going on?
We get this reaction all the time. It may seem like GoWesty is just cutting a fat hog, but that is simply not the case. There are several factors driving the high price that GoWesty gets for the vehicles we sell.
The first thing is what GoWesty has to pay for the vehicles we purchase and re-sell. The first place to look to find a "market price" for any vehicle is the Kelly Blue book. Kelly publishes two different blue books. The first can be browsed at no cost on-line at www.kellybluebook.com.
Listed there are values for all 1985 and newer Vanagons and Eurovans, with and without pop-tops. When it comes to Vanagon and Eurovans with pop-tops, it gets confusing. There are many different model types for Vanagon and Eurovan for which Kelly publishes values.
Vanagon: Kelly recognizes the difference between a regular Vanagon L or GL and special models like the Carat and Wolfsburg editions. For year models 1985 through 1989, they show separate values for campers, which we all know have pop-tops. But what about the 85/86/87 Wolfsburg Weekender that we all know are Westfalia conversions and have the same pop-top, but no fridge/sink/stove? There is simply no mention of it in the Kelly Blue Book. One can go to the options list and click on "Flip Up Roof," but that does not add a whole lot to the value, so it is assumed they mean an after-market flip-up sunroof, or similar. Indeed, the only pop-top Vanagon Weekender model they specifically have a separate, recognized value for is the 90/91 MV model. Regardless, the Kelly Blue Book value for all pop-top Vanagons is completely unrealistic. Even on the open market, for any run-of-the-mill 85-91 Vanagon with pop-top, camper or Weekender, the prices are simply not rational or realistic as compared to actual market value. For example, the price listed in Kelly for a 2WD 1990 GL camper with all factory options and 97,000 miles, full retail, is only $10,915 (as of August, 2005, add a whopping $2,665 for Syncro). Anyone who knows these vehicles is fully aware that such a vehicle in "retail value" or "high Blue Book" condition would fetch at least $12,000 sight unseen, and most have a typical asking price over $15,000. And a Syncro Westy? Forget about it... GoWesty typically pays upward of $10,000 for 2WD fixer-uppers with over 100k miles, and we have paid over $20,000 for nice Syncro Westys with over 100k miles. So, in general, the Kelly Blue Book is pretty much useless when it comes to Vanagon pop-tops. Furthermore, all things equal and for any particular year-model, it really makes no difference whether a Vanagon pop-top is a full camper or Weekender or MV: they are worth about the same. To a person who does not want the stove/fridge/sink, the Weekender is worth more than a camper, and vice versa.
Eurovan: Kelly recognizes three different models of Eurovan for 1993 (CL, GL, and MV) and two models for 1999-2003 (GLS and MV). The CL, GL, and GLS models were not available with pop-top, and the MV was available with and without pop-top. To obtain the value of one with pop-top, one has to click on the "Weekender package" option to get an accurate price. Now here is the really confusing part: The full Eurovan Winnebago camper (EVC) conversion is not listed at all. To find a value for an EVC, you have to refer to the Kelly Blue Book "Official RV Guide," which is not online, and is not free. This guide is only available in printed form, and one has to subscribe to receive it. Now, the Kelly Blue Book values for Eurovan pop-tops are in the ball park, and indeed were quite accurate until 2003. In 2003, VW ended production of the Eurovan, and subsequently stopped offering any VW van for the US market. Since then, all car dealers (and GoWesty is no exception) have been paying close to or above retail Blue Book values for any late model pop-top Eurovan, Weekender or full camper. For example, in 2005 we purchased a 2001 EVC camper with 2200 miles on it. Blue Book retail value was listed at $32,700. We paid $40,000 for it. So, in general, the Kelly Blue Book is somewhat useful when it comes to Eurovan pop-tops, but is still typically 10%-50% low.
The formula GoWesty uses to price a particular Vanagon or older model Eurovan pop-top is cost + 10 to 20% + cost of repairs. Some of the older Eurovan models (1993 MV and 95/96 EVC) are now getting pretty long on the tooth indeed. In general, the older the vehicle, the higher the mileage, and worse in condition; the lower the price GoWesty has to pay, BUT these vehicles need MORE WORK. The newer the vehicle, lower mileage, better conditon; the higher the price GoWesty has to pay, it MAY need LESS WORK, BUT not always. A good example is a 1990 Vanagon GL camper we sold on consignment last year (2004). It only 35,000 miles on it, but still need about $5,000 worth of work to get it up to GoWesty standards. The main thing one has to keep in mind when it comes to any Vanagon or older Eurovan pop-top is: The NEWEST Vanagon is a 1991 year model, which is FOURTEEN (14) years old! The oldest Eurovan pop-top, the 1993 MV, is already 12 years old! And, all the parts and labor needed to restore one of these guys is going up. That is why, regardless of mileage or year model, a solid, rust free, collission free Vanagon pop-top, that GoWesty can fully stand behind ends up costing between $16,000 and $20,000. That is for a typical 1986 or 1987 *IF* we can buy it to begin with for $3,000-$6,000. The 1988 to 1991 are costing us more like $5000-$12,000 to BUY, so the final price on those is typically even higher. They just need that much work. So, when answering an ad for a "totally perfect" Vanagon camper that "needs nothing", DON'T BELIEVE IT. They ALL say it needs nothing and they ALL need work. ALL OF THEM. At least once a month we get someone who comes in with a "killer deal" pop-top they got on e-bay, or off of the street. These are folks who figure, "Heck, if one of these guys is worth $20k when done, how can I go wrong picking this one up for $4500". WRONG! Invariably, the "killer deal" is in need of $15-20k worth of work BEST CASE, or was not even a good starting point at all, a total waste of time and money. So far, EVERY SINGLE ONE has either been a complete rip-off or at the very least could have been purchased direclty from GoWesty for LESS money when all said and done, and with no risk and no headaches.
So what about newer model year EVC's? GoWesty gets more than most for them too...
When it comes to the newer MV's and EVC's (97-2003), especially the lower mileage ones, GoWesty is paying dearly, and even at mark-ups of LESS THAN 10%, the prices are busting the Kelly book bubble. But even with these newer model, with low mileage examples, allot of work is still required. Attached are photos of a original owner, 1997 full camper with only 65k miles on the clock. These photos were taken in our detail shop, were we have FOUR expert guys working FOURTY hours per week each just on VW pop-top vans. As you can see, even with a late model camper like this, we take the interior COMPLETELY apart to get everything squeeky clean. When we are all done with this guy it will look, smell, drive, and BE like new. No excuses, no exceptions.
The bottom line is that all the pop-tops GoWesty sells are thoroughly gone through, completely disassembled inside and cleaned, everything is guaranteed to be there that is supposed to be there, AND everything is guraranteed to work properly. Anything that is worn or damaged is replaced. All maintenance items are done so the vehicle has zero miles on it maintenance wise. We even replace things that are not yet broken, but we know from experience are problematic. A good example is the water pump on late model Eurovan VR6 models with plastic impellers. It's a $79 part that, when it fails, can cause a $6,000 engine to MELT DOWN. We KNOW these things inside and out, know how to fix what is wrong, and know what is GOING to break, and fix that too! Does every pop-top we sell leave here absolutely perfect? Hell no, we make mistakes and miss things from time to time. But we give the above promise to every buyer IN WRITING. So if we do miss something, well, you know where to find us, and can rest assured we will deal with the problem in a fair way, whether the item that failed was explicitly warranted or not. Heck, our future and reputation depend on it! Just go to the sold vehicles section and click on any of those past vehicle sales. Just about every VW van we have ever sold is listed there, with a way for YOU to contact one of our past customers DIRECTLY. It is in our mutual best interest to cover all the bases so we can stand behind every vehicle that drives out of GoWesty.
So what about the other retailers out there who "specialize" in pop-top VW vans? Why not go with one of them? Well, just visit their web sites and click on their list of satisfied customers. Or, visit their parts or service shops. Wait a minute, none of them have those except GoWesty. Ok, forget that suggestion. Who are these "competitors" anyway? They are just used car dealers, that's all they are, and that is all you can expect from them. They buy and sell used cars that just happen to be VW Vans. If Cadillac's were as hot as VW pop-tops are, they would be selling Deville's.... And to add insult to injury, they are all riding on GoWesty's coat tails; they are getting the same or HIGHER prices for their vehicles! GoWesty does all of it's own work, provides all of it's own parts, and stands behind every hour spent and every part used. GoWesty. Not "well that was done at shop ABC" , or "we got those parts supplier XYZ". When you purchase a vehicle from GoWesty, the buck stops at GoWesty. Guaranteed!