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Old 08-26-2019, 11:22 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 16
to Deal or not to Deal (Buying from Dealers)

Good Morning skoolie community! (this is my second time posting this as my first attempt my login timed out, grrrr)

After several failed attempts at bidding on buses via auction I've decided to extend my search to dealers as well.

I've heard of AAA Bus Sales and I've looked at their inventory and got some prices (they seem over priced to say the least but maybe they are mechanically sound as the owner seems to be on the up and up and owns a skoolie himself).

There is also McAllisters Bus Sales and Midwest Transit.

Has anyone had any experience with these companies before? If so I would appreciate some input on what to expect when dealing with them and how the buses you purchased from there measured up to your expectations.
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Old 08-26-2019, 11:36 AM   #2
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Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
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Year: 1999
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Those guys are buying the same buses you were bidding on. If you were losing out by bidding less than the dealers retail pricing, you're not bidding high enough. They try and buy the good buses just like us. They do very little to them other than clean them up for curb appeal. Yes, you get a warranty, and maybe some service, but it's likely not saving you any money in the long run. Youcan figure the bus on the lot has doubled in price from the auction, so if you bid up to between 1/2 and 3/4's of the dealer pricing you should be able to get one. The local dealers have been at $6995, this year they are up to $7900.
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Old 08-26-2019, 11:49 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
Those guys are buying the same buses you were bidding on. If you were losing out by bidding less than the dealers retail pricing, you're not bidding high enough. They try and buy the good buses just like us. They do very little to them other than clean them up for curb appeal. Yes, you get a warranty, and maybe some service, but it's likely not saving you any money in the long run. Youcan figure the bus on the lot has doubled in price from the auction, so if you bid up to between 1/2 and 3/4's of the dealer pricing you should be able to get one. The local dealers have been at $6995, this year they are up to $7900.
Yeah, I figured as much. What sucks is the bids end when I'm at work and that 5 min increment is killer. McAllisters and Midwest Transit have buses listed on their site for under 5k and some under 3k so that was what initiated this post.
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Old 08-26-2019, 12:16 PM   #4
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I'd check every bus for less than $3k from a dealer with a fine tooth comb. I would imagine I would not be interested in one of those from the dealer. Those are the ones they couldn't see the rust on till they got it at the yard.
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Old 08-26-2019, 01:21 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Cincinnati
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Year: 2004
Coachwork: Blue Bird
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Engine: T444E
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I bought a bus from MacAllister late last year, a 2004 Blue Bird International with the T444E. It was mistakenly priced at $1,000 after the dealership had marked it as non-running, despite the fact that it ran and drove just fine (with perfect tires no less). Needless to say I drove back to the dealership ASAP and came home with a running and driving bus for a grand.

In general I'd recommend them over Midwest Transit because they have more variety in their inventory, and seem to be more willing to deal on the buses that don't leave the lot as quickly. I get the impression that Midwest won't sell any buses below a certain price.
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Old 08-26-2019, 01:38 PM   #6
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In some cases dealers, especially smaller ones like I bought my bus from, have it set up so they can buy buses at the reserve price before the auction. Then, assuming they've established friendships with school district mechanics, they get recommendations about which buses to buy, and which to let go to the auction.

I do not know how common this practice is, but for those school districts where it happens this means the best buses do not go to auction. And anyone who says I don't know what I am talking about and this never happens is full of it. It happens.
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Old 08-26-2019, 01:57 PM   #7
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Places like Macallister don't actively bid on used buses to flip. Rather the main focus of their business is selling new buses. The used ones you see on their lots were taken in on trade from the school districts.



Places like AAA Bus Sales and Rocky Mountain only resell used buses, i.e they are not dealer franchises for Bluebird/Thomas/IC. So it's common to see those guys bidding on the public auctions at Govdeals/Public Surplus/422.
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Old 08-26-2019, 02:34 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thanks for the input guys. I feel better about my next steps.
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Old 08-26-2019, 04:20 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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There are a few bus nuts around the country who make a living buying auction buses and selling them on a lot, like a used car dealership for school buses. If you want to pick out your bus like someone picks out a sticks and staples RV on a dealership lot, you should get on a plane and visit a bus nut owned and operated bus yard. I’ve heard of one in northern Idaho, don’t ask me for the details as I’m looking for them too.

For many, acquiring a bus is THE biggest hurdle, and yet some veterans advice is



"Buy direct from the school district and visit the auctions. Get the best price physically possible and turn down buses that are a few hundred dollars over your max bid because “the perfect one will come up at MY price, and I’m not getting ripped off!”.



Decent auction buses usually sell for around $2000. Remember, A 50% markup on $2000 is $3000. A 100% markup on $2000 is $4000. A budget, budget build out is going to total out to $4000, all hard costs included. Don’t feel like it’s a sin or like it’s cheating to buy your bus from a lot at a markup.

Since as far as I could tell in 2019, I’ve missed the wave of pre-emission system analog 90s buses (please correct me if I’m wrong). I have decided when I have 3-5 grand in my hand I’m getting on a train or taking a road trip to visit a bus nut ran bus yard, take a look around, and have my pick of the litter. Sure the skoolies may be marked up more than 50% because skoolies are currently the latest hipster RV trend, so what - retired American school buses are the cheapest vehicle per pound, hands down!

For me at least, spending up to an additional couple thousand dollars on the final negotiated purchase price is worth the dealership conveniences and the ability to be choosy / get the style of bus you want within a week.
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Old 08-26-2019, 04:45 PM   #10
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Rated Cap: Blue-Bird says 72 pass.
Where are you? You should fill out your info so we would know approx where you are.

Anyway, if you are anywhere near Oregon, you should talk to Kurt at Wolf Creek Motors. If you search skoolie.net with the search box at the top of the page, you will find 6 threads that mention Wolf Creek Motors, which is just off Interstate 5 a little ways north of Grants Pass OR.

I don't think I should put Kurt's phone number on here, but if you want it PM me. And I should add that when I got my bus in April he had several other non-electronic buses. Those will be gone, but I'll bet he has others now.
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