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Hello. I am interested in buying one of these little gems. My wife and I are both retired, and live in the Mid-Atlantic region. Over the next two years, we intend to investigate relocation to Florida. In that process, we intend to spend significant time there investigating several areas on the Gulf Coast. If we rent real property during that search, we will be forced to either pay through the nose competing with the regular snowbirds in prime season, or to travel there at a time of year that differs from when we would be resident after purchasing a home (we also have some property with a cabin in the Virginia mountains where we would "Summer"). I don't like either alternative, so I had looked into varieties of Class B - C motor homes, to serve as "home" during our investigations. I didn't at all like what I found in terms of reliability and repair costs. Worse, it appears that the newer the MH, the worse the QC will likely be. It appears to me that the quality and reliability of these older Toyota truck-based campers is typically superior to that of contemporary van-based units. While I would need to convince my wife about buying as old a unit as one of these, I think I could do that. But first I need to come up with a strategy to locate some good examples that are for sale. The "for sale" site linked to this board site shows nothing at all. A little investigation on Craigslist showed that there are some available, but most of those seemed to be far away from me (ntm that I'd prefer an example that hadn't spent most of its time rusting away around here near the ocean). I did find a web site that shows some results from crawling the web for ads (CL, etc.) for these units, but that is good mostly for pricing comparisons, as the truck has nearly always sold by the time they scrape and publish the ad. Under some circumstances, I wouldn't mind a long drive (or even a flight) to evaluate an important purchase, but the probability of finding some show-stopper issue that wasn't previously disclosed is too great for an item as old as this. Anyone have any observations or recommendations on how I might go about acquiring one of these? Thanks.

 

P.S. - I saw one of these (I think it was an '86 Dolphin) on FM Marketplace that claimed to be diesel powered. I know that Tacomas did offer diesel at some point, but I thought that was quite a bit later. Is that Diesel Dolphin plausible, or likely just BS?

Edited by i2amsam
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There has never been a diesel tacoma anywhere. Not imported and Tacoma's are only made for the north American market. The dolphin probably had the engine changed from the early 80's toyota diesel. Not much power

Toyota motorhomes are getting harder to find. Come spring more should show up for sale but the only thing you can do is keep searching. 

Linda S

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We just upgraded our system and the old for sale site had some kinks so people stopped using it. It will probably take quite a while for it to get used again with any frequency. Stick with craigslist and toyotarvsforsale. I don't do facebook but I guess that is a good place to search too. Just remember no money changes hands until you inspect it personally. Lots of scammers out there

Linda S

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33 minutes ago, linda s said:

. Just remember no money changes hands until you inspect it personally. Lots of scammers out there

Linda S

 ^What she said.

Just be prepared to kiss a lot of toads before you find your princess. Pictures are useful as a starting point, but the right camera angle can hide a lot of bad news.

Some VERY GENERIC statements 

Odysseys are the biggest, but have a bad history of leaks and decay

Sunraders will leak but don't rot, however the leaks can cause interior damage and Sunraders don't have the best floor design.

There are toys with aluminum frames, again they can leak, but way less things to rot.

The 22r/re engines are almost bullet proof, but some think they are under powered. I have done many looong trips through the Rocky's, you just travel at the speed of smell and eventually you will get there. The later V-6 engines have more power, less MPG, but poor maintenance by previous owners (P/O) can cause very expensive problems.

These Toys may be cute minis but the have all the RV stuff that a 40ft class A has and the same possible problems. They are all 30+years old.

The most important thing is not the make, but the P/O's maintenance and care

 

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Now is a challenging time to shop for motorhomes as they are very popular. Toyota motorhomes in particular have become very desirable. I agree with the others who posted here. You have to see the machine in person; a must. Pictures just do not do any motorhome justice. 

 

I apologize to the group but I would contend most listings for these machines are inflated right now. Be very careful when considering one because supply is low and quality is often also low. You will be paying for repairs (I sound like a broken record) or working on it yourself once you purchase. It is inevitable due to the age of the machine.  The purchase price will be the beginning of your expenses. 

 

Read read read here about these motorhomes before you start shopping. The more you can learn about these the better; especially if you're not coming from an auto mechanical background, and/or have never had a motorhome/camper before.  A lot of misinformation out there (fuel economy is an example).  Ask more questions here. A lot of experts on this site for both the truck part and the camper part. 

 

Over the years I have read many stories about people who purchased their motorhomes and were suddenly surprised by myriad unforeseen mechanical, cosmetic, structural, and catastrophic issues.  

 

Buyer beware. 

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Coincidence can be a funny thing. I got on FB Marketplace this morning, and was immediately presented with an ad for one of these nearby, at a pretty low price. I may or may not go check it out just on GP - I'm not quite ready to buy, and this one looks and sounds (description) quite a bit rougher than I'd like. It does prompt me to ask a couple more questions, however. First, it is described as simply "1985 Toyota Mini Cruiser" and that is the only identification that shows in the photos. I had not previously run across that name. Who built the coachwork for this one? Also, it has an automatic transmission. Do I understand from my reading that I should completely stay away from the auto, or are there some exceptions. Link to ad below. Thanks again!

1985 Toyota Mini Cruiser
[url]https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/741060893499568[/url] 

Edited by i2amsam
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my 87 dolphon pict at left  is model 400 22rec automatic has been fine for us .  had 67000 org miles  when i bought it 7000 500 dollors. i dont use the overdrive . and some back country roads i shift  manual like a stick. prefere stick have a sr5 4wdxtra cab truck as well same power plant . the moter home is the only auto i have had of 7 toyotas 2 moterhomes . keep the four cyclinder reved up . but not over reved . luging kills the engine and trans by heat . national rv put on xtra trans cooler .never had a 6 and dont want or need one for me . 4 in a row is the way too go. when you buy old used cant be too pickey. besides i am old  some what shiftless lol. auto i think the auto is better in city trafic with the moter home you have a lot too watch as it is .

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OK, I'll go with the consensus here and look on the automatic as an acceptable option. I have always been biased toward manual transmissions, but the justification for that bias has been eroding for some time. One original issue was repair cost difference, which once heavily favored sticks. However, I had a new clutch put in my 2004 F250 V-10 6-speed a few years ago, and that set me back $1,800. I can't imagine swapping in a rebuilt auto could have cost very much more. Another potential issue is parking brake effectiveness with the standard trans. That same truck has a horribly weak parking brake, incapable of holding the truck on the mildest of grades when in neutral. That eliminates any activity that would require the truck to be parked with the engine running, a limitation that can be very inconvenient...

Re I4 vs V6, I am a big fan of the 22R going way back. Our very first car as a couple was a '76 Corolla with that engine, and it was bulletproof. Unfortunately, we flipped and totaled that car in a March 1 ice storm in Alabama (how is that for bad luck ;?> OTOH we currently own two 4runners with the V6, and while I don't have any illusions that the 6 is as indestructible as the 4, both vehicles have performed admirably (have 207k on the older one) so I certainly wouldn't eliminate a MH candidate on that basis.

Can anyone here identify the coach builder for that "Mini Cruiser" I mentioned above?

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I have owned cars for long time.  Mostly automatics and 3 or 4 sticks.   I have replaced one clutch but never had an automatic transmission fail! 

 

That said one auto almost cost me $2800 at Sam Galloway Ford in Ft Myers FL.  When they told me the transmission needed rebuilding.   A second opinion at an independent shop gave an appraisal for $1900.   My Friend Gerald Jenkinson diagnosed the problem over the phone from 2 states away as a vacuum leak.  Repair cost me a $4 vacuum hose. 

 

Leads me to believe that an awful amount of transmissions are rebuilt that do not need it!

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