I am on the verge of buying a bus, but I wanted expert opinions first.
I am looking for a 5-6 window shortie. I am not a mechanic, though, and any major (or minor) repair is going to happen at a shop. I am capable of dealing with a lot of things, but I don't trust my upper body strength when it comes to dealing with engines. If my noodle arms can't tighten that oil plug tight enough, well... Therefore, I am looking for something super reliable, and preferably easy (or cheap) to repair when crap does happen.
I am leaning towards a Ford e-450 (2003 or earlier, I know about the bad 6.0 engines) with a bus body. My thought was, since it's a common Ford engine, any mechanic that does diesel should be able to take care of it. Parts should also be common. Even friends I meet on the road would, statistically, be better equipped to help me with things like oil changes. On the other hand, getting a "real" bus engine would require specialty work done by a larger, more commercial shop. In theory, I figured that would be harder to find if I am stranded, and more expensive. However, buses can be had for much cheaper, and I wouldn't have to worry about model years and 6.0 engines.
I am in North Carolina, and unfortunately, any east coast bus is going to have rust. I have considered driving my car out west, selling it there, then buying a bus, but it's scary to commit to buying a bus sight unseen.
This is the bus I am currently considering:
Just so people know, I am looking to do a very simple and light weight conversion. I would like the bus to be able to pull a trailer, if I decide to go that route down the road.
If anyone has a better idea about which bus I should get, or even knows of a really nice deal out there right now, please let me know. My budget is around $5,000, but that leaves me with almost nothing afterwards. I am willing to drive out and get it, especially if someone here vouches for it and it's (relatively) rust free. Thanks for your opinions!