The Van - 1. The purchase
We had been looking at cars and to buy that we could travel up the coast in and sleep in to keep costs down. Hostels are quite expensive and so is public transport. We wanted the ease of travelling when we want and in comfort. All the cars and vans we had looked at were being sold by other travellers. The bonus was they had all the equipment you needed already - camping gear, cooking stoves, utensils and plates etc.Some vans had been converted to include a bed in the back so you could sleep in it and keep costs low. The only problem was that every van/car we looked at was a heap of junk. Also every vehicle in australia needs a road worthy certificate and registration. You can get registration for 6 months or for one year. All the vehicles we were looking at were almost at the end of their registration and with the state they were in it was hard to say whether we would be able to get a road worthy certificate without having to spend a lot of money.
I'm so glad James knows what he's on about. A lot of the vans had been passed from traveller to traveller without really being looked after. The cost of some of these vans was extortionate considering the state they were in. James and I had gone to view a few together and whilst they looked good aesthetically they were terrible mechanically. James went to look at a 4x4 with Neil one day and at the same time some european girls were looking at it. All the girls were interested in was whether the bed was comfy and the radio worked. James looked over everything and when he asked to look at the engine the seller asked the girls did they want to see it too. James was obviously looking to see if there were any problems however the girls took a quick peep and then asked to look at all the camping gear.
It surprises me that people are so willing to purchase a secondhand car/van without any mechanical knowledge or knowing that it is in a good condition. Some of these cars/vans were on sale at $5k+ and negotiation on price was difficult. We had decided that we could spend $3k max on a vehicle and with James' knowledge would use problems with the vehicle to get the price down. This was almost always impossible. People were prepared to pay pretty close to the asking price and they were sold quite quickly also.
We still had the hire car and were getting desperate to buy a vehicle as the hire car was costing a lot of money. The owner of the farm we were working on was taking the piss saying James was too tight with his money and we'd never find a vehicle for the price we wanted. We had spent weeks and weeks searching for a car and done a fair few miles looking at vehicles. So it was a great surprise when we were heading to the local shopping centre to pass a Ford Econovan on the road side for sale at $2500 and only 20 minutes down the road from where we were staying.
We took a look at the van it was petrol and LPG and as it looked ok from the outside. The only downside was that the registration would run out in February. James gave the owner a call straight away. "I'll give you $1800 cash today" he told him. The owner thought about over for a minute and then agreed. James told him we'd meet him at the van in an hours time to look over it. James had a thorough look and a test drive. The only things he could find fault with was a small oil leak, some rust and a hole in one of the side panels, and it was a bit difficult getting into 3rd gear. Oh and there was no spare wheel as the LPG tank took up the space the spare should be in. James thought the oil leak was something he could deal with as it was only small and the clutch and gear box were in good condition. We would be able to pick up a spare from a car wreckers and the owner told us that it was easy enough to replace the side panel with the rust. Apparently Ford Econovans are susceptible to rust and the whole roof had recently been replaced for that reason. The owner had been using the van for work and so it was quite dirty inside. James then offered the owner $1700 due to no spare and the rust and they finally agreed on $1750.
We couldn't believe it. We had finally found a van and well under budget. We would have to buy things for it to make it liveable like a bed, storage and camping equipment but that wasn't going to cost another $1k.
All we had to do was to transfer the registration onto our name. We had to do this at the RTA. What a pain in the ass this was. We needed proof of address and so we tried to use our tax number which had been posted to us at the farm but they wouldn't accept this. We had to drive all the way home to get a letter from the ownwers to say that we were living there. James was not impressed. The tax number letter was from the government and so an official letter. Their response was that you can have that sent to any address. Well you can have all of your post sent to any address! When they wanted a letter from the owners of the property James argued that he could go out to the car write a letter and bring it back in - there's no way they would know whether it was from the actual property owner or not. They said that they also need the owners driving licence number - what was stopping us from phoning them and asking then writing the letter themselves? It seems a very flawed system. What happends if we didn't have an address at the time and were living in a vehicle/camping?
Anyway the registration cost us $30 plus i think about 3% of the price we paid for the vehicle. James may need to correct me on that. So far we had spent $1832.
We will keep you updated on the progress