If you keep working with Damon, he'll be upfront with you on the pro's/con's of the various coaches. And I've always found to be a straight shooter. (Sure, he is a salesman. But, he has earned a reputation of wanting to build a relationship going forward, as much as, making a sale.
> Take your time! Keep digging deeper on the various model years, and specifically the engines and smog levels of the various years.
> In general, as with most used purchases, condition, condition, condition is important. That being said. Cosmetic appearances do not always show all that you should know about 'condition'. Documentation, documentation, documentation of maintenance of chassis/engine/transmission/generator & major system's is a real plus. (I like most people I meet, until shown a reason not to. BUT, when buying a used vehicle - well, if it ain't documented in the maintenance history via receipts - I alway look at is as not having been done... Sort of an X-Files - Trust No One!
>After researching the various coaches and floorpans, and engine/transmission of those years. Narrow down the specific years and choices important to you. THEN, target only those coaches.
>Budget money post purchase to do two things: 1) Any catch up maintenance you feel needs to be accomplished. (Start with a known care level condition, to maintain from going forward.); 2) Any modifications you wish interior wise to start with. Electronics. Storage. Carpet. Etc., etc.
In general. They used market is very thin on inventory at this time. So be prepared to fine a coach with overall 'good bone's', that meets your needs the best. Don't be afraid of investing $5 (That goes by in a snap of the fingers
!), $10, $20K into a coach to set it up to be 'Your coach, and in the shape you want it to be!'.
I've shared this opinion a few times, in different ways. But say you find a coach CC Magna or Affinity for $150-175K, and then put $25-50K into it over the first year of ownership. So you are now into it for $175-225K range. That coach, even with say 50-100K miles on it - will IMO, be far superior then the majority of newer coaches that could cost $400, $500, $600K+... And 10 years from now, will be a better quality coach then those newer ones costing double to triple more to get into. Country Coach, and their Dynomax Chassis - are just that better built, materials and craftsmanship wise. Perfect? Of course not. But you'd need to jump to a Prevost based coach to jump to a higher level. (Sure, maybe Newell too
Things to do homework on, of which none are real deal breakers:
>CAT engines post 2007 Smog Level Engines (Not model year, but 'engine smog level'. Get the specific Serial Number and call CAT to confirm the Emissions Level of that engine. C-13 & C-15's in this case. These can come with Allison 4000 or CAT CX31 automatics. Both of these transmissions are good transmission in general. Allison is the most prevalent in the RV industry, but CAT Engine & Automatic ECM's play well with each other - and allow a more 'positive' shifting pattern, and thus could yield more power continual power on a mountain climb, and possibly a tad higher MPG. The emission side of the engines, will have a higher overall maintenance costs over the years. (More to maintain, via the higher Smog/Emissions 'stuf'. BUT, if the right Magna or Affinity comes along for you, and overall in great documented condition. With either a C-13 or C-15 07 Emission/Smog level engine - don't walk away from it just for that reason. Just be aware that the costs of maintaining those engines, will be a bit higher over the years ahead. (IF properly maintained, they should serve you well!).
-CAT C-13 & C-15 engines PRE 2007 Emission/Smog levels, will always have an Allison 4000 transmission. These are good engines, and provide lots of power. Sure, a bit thirsty... But fuel costs is a relatively minor costs overall of the RV'ing experience in bigger DP's.
-Cummins ISX600 and ISX650 engines come in those years also. They too will always have an Allison 4000 transmission. The ISX600 come in too flavors: 1) 2006-2007 models (And possibly some early 2008 models too(?) (Always check the specific Serial Number with the engine Manufacturer!!), is the 'Dirty' ISX, with what is called a CM870 configuration build. These have EGR's. And are relatively a solid engine, and will have great power and torque, and compatible to perhaps a bit better, MPG of the CAT C-13 or C-15; 2) They also come with what is called a 'Clean' ISX(600) and I believe all ISX650's are 'Clean' too, usually 2008+ models. These have a CM871 configuration (I know for the 600, and think it is also for the 650Hp too(?). In addition to an EGR, they also add DPF. These engines can be at risk of 'Dropping #6 Valve' (Smog equipment results in 'gook/sludge' build up that can make it's way onto the top of #6 (And 5) valves, and erosive activity can comprise the valve train. Resulting in blown, and expensive rebuilds, of the engine. Should these coaches be avoided? No!!! But, you should know upfront if the specific ISX600/650 'Clean' with DPF engine - has had the latest and greatest Cummins Head swapped onto it. (It includes improved metals, inconel, and more - that make these engines relatively bullet proof moving forward.). IF the specific coach, with those specific engines has not received a new and improved head. Budget into your overall purchase strategy, a visit to Cummins to Pro-Actively add the new improved head. This can be from $13-20K, depending upon local shop rates, and what else is found that should be refreshed as the engine is exposed. (While the coach is open and the head is off, it make's sense to have anything at all questionable addressed at the same time.) (I talked with a Newell owner a few days ago. First owner of about a 10-11 year old coach with the ISX650. He decided about awhile back, to have Cummins put the new head on his coach. All looked good, so he said his costs were under $15K, and took 12 days to accomplish.)
-AquaHot, depending upon year. Will either be a 450 (With a single electric element.). Or, a 600 with a double electric, and larger capacity heating unit. IMO, with proper maintenance and care, BOTH, will support you adequately. I personally prefer the 600, as we find the double electric heating element, supports our water heating, and coach heating needs well - down into the mid to high 30's. (IF in good shape, and well maintained - I would not walk away from a coach with the 450 series in it.)
-IF you boon dock a lot. The 2006 series have a bit larger Grey tank, and do not have the Inteltic/Multiplex. They're a bit 'simpler', with less to go wrong. And as I recall, the slides CC used in the 2006's required less 'width' of the side slides, which equates to more cabinet space inside. (Our 07 Magna, has slide sides of about 8", X's that by 8 slide side ends - about 64" overall. I think the Pre 2007, were a bit under 5" each. So 3" x 8 - 24" of more potential sitting and or cabinet space...).
-Micro Checking. Check the dark colors of any of these real coaches for signs of outgassing. For sure not just a CC problem, as Monaco, Travel Supreme, Newmar, etc., coaches of that era also had the same potential problem.
Overall, you are considering some of the best built coaches of any era. Even today, the looks and designs of these coaches hold up very well.
Happy hunting, and best of luck,