We’re almost done looking at previously-owned coaches in Holland, MI. To recap: we are looking to possibly trade in our RV COW (condo on wheels), which is a 2007 Country Coach Magna, for an older Prevost or Newell. Weâre looking for bigger (and more) windows and a smoother ride. Our budget is $250k (minus the trade-in value of our COW).
Our current COW has four slides, two in the front and two in the rear. The slides make the coach feel quite spacious when we are parked. Since we are living full time in our COW, we think four slides are a necessity because they not only give us space, they give us extra storage capacity.
Meet “Blue Man”
On our final day at Panterra Luxury Coaches, my dad eyes a shiny, retro-looking Prevost XL. If it’s “retro,” it’s going to catch Dad’s attention. He loves old things and the promise of renovations. This latest retro “thing” that’s caught his eye is a 1998 Prevost Marathon XL (we love Marathon conversions, they are such high quality!). It is priced at $159,000, well below our $250,000 budget. But it’s much older than we were considering and, most importantly, it has NO SLIDES! Because it’s a Marathon and because it’s an XL (two items on my parents’ long dream list), and because it’s so very cool-looking on the outside, Dad just has to go inside! Mom reluctantly follows. She just keeps saying, “But….but…but…it has NO slides!”
The first thing we notice is the classic Marathon emblem outside of the door.
That’s classic. Both my parents smile in approval.
Then we make our way to the entry. Mom stops cold. It’s much smaller width-wise than our current COW and any of the others we’ve toured. Dad gets out his tape measure. It’s about 23 inches; our current COW entry is about 27 inches. My parents aren’t big people but when you think about carrying in groceries or other items, the entry width, even four inches, can become a regret.
And then there is worn carpeting on the stairs leading into Blue Man. Mom is not liking this even though she knows the carpeting is temporary and underneath is black granite, which would just need to be cleaned up a bit.
We step inside and we’re impressed with the good condition of the seats. And, the tan is a nice, neutral color.
Dad takes a closer look at the instrumental panel. He’s not sure a 1998 will have enough of the bells and whistles he’s accustomed to in a 2007 model.
Of course, Blue Man doesn’t have the more sophisticated electronics Dad is looking for. However, some can be added later as part of the remodel/upgrade. He’s okay with what Blue Man has for now.
We look past the seats and into the salon.
There are two couches (no desk) and a booth dinette. The flooring has been updated to a wood laminate, which looks nice. Mom crinkles her nose at the couches. They look quite dated. But then she sits on one and smiles. It’s comfortable and it’s long!
There is a nice end table between the couch and the driver’s seat. An additional console provides more storage.
My mom is still not convinced she would even consider this COW. But we keep walking…
The ceilings have been updated. They have nice mirrors and clean lines with updated, bright lighting.
The valences match the couches. Everything is in very good condition. No wear or tear is visible. It’s just not up-to-date, but remodeling is something my parents are used to doing so the thought doesn’t deter them.
Mom finds the navy blue/tan colors acceptable. They’re not garish or too bold. They’re livable.
We make our way past the couches and we realize that having two long couches may not be a bad thing. Mom could have one and Dad the other while relaxing in the evening.
Or Mom could have one and I could have the other while Dad is driving. Hmmm…. I’m liking the two-couch idea!
The couches fold into beds and each has storage drawers.
The television is a 32″, which is about 20″ smaller than the one we have. My parents are quite okay with this. They don’t watch much television and would rather have large windows not blocked by televisions.
A Crystal Cabinet!
Oh my! Looky here! This is the place where we can store our crystal!
The corner, lighted crystal cabinet is almost “standard” in most high-end coaches, including Country Coach, Newell and Prevost. When my parents were first shopping for a COW, they insisted they didn’t want this cabinet and were happy our COW didn’t have it (we have a closed cabinet instead). After being on the road for a few years, however, my parents think they do need a place for just a few of their nicer drink glasses (Dad loves a good old-fashioned!) and perhaps a crystal cabinet isn’t a waste of space after all.
Blue Man has original Marathon-logo crystal glasses (not a full set though!).
Into the Kitchen We Go!
We make our way past the couches and into the kitchen.
There is a long dinette table that swivels so you can get into and out of the booth with ease. The booth seats are tan leather and are in good condition.
The floor is a tan and black granite in good condition. The cabinets are a lighter wood and are in great shape. The Corian counter on the table and the counter tops is a bit dated but in good condition. It looks like the Sharp convection oven/microwave and Frigidare dishwasher appear to be originals, which means they’ll need to be replaced soon.
Behind the dinette, there is a large counter with a huge storage space underneath. In the storage space is a Splendide Combo washer-dryer. Hmmm… would we consider a Splendide Combo instead of a stacked washer and dryer?
We keep going. So far, there seems to be plenty of storage. Marathon makes good use of every inch in their coaches, including under couches and booths.
Since Blue Man has no slides, the walkway is, of course, tighter than our COW walkway when our slides are out. However, Blue Man is quite a bit more spacious when compared to our COW with the slides in. This is probably because of how the interior space is configured. there are less straight lines and more angled lines to allow for efficient use of the walkway. It feels a lot less crowded (maybe because of the big windows?) than our current COW (with the slides in).
A Bathroom Break
We make our way past the kitchen, which has a Jenn-Air residential refrigerator, toward the bathroom.
There is a slight jog in the pathway with a vanity to the left and private bathroom (which has no sink because it is in the vanity outside of the bathroom) to the right.
Just beyond the bathroom is a hanging closet to the right. The full shower is to the left. It has the “signature” Marathon lighted wildlife scene – this one is a bear. It is on the shower wall and shows through to the bedroom vanity. It lights up blue!
When we first saw these lighted scenes in older Marathons, we immediately laughed and thought of Las Vegas. Now, however, we think of them as “retro” and wouldn’t dream of replacing them.
And Into the Bedroom
The bedroom begins with a full vanity to the left, behind the shower with the bear scene. The vanity is shaped like a slight kidney bean and the shape allows for a wide entry into the bedroom. It doesn’t feel cramped at all even though this is a non-slide COW.
The bedroom is done in gold lame fabric. When you touch it, it is crunchy. It’s in good condition. However, gold lame is not exactly our style and it’s all over, I mean ALL OVER, the bedroom: the bedspread….
Even the ceiling…
Oh my. Nothing that a little cosmetic remodel wouldn’t fix. Everything is in very good shape and condition.
The bed, a queen-size (darn!), is a SleepNumber mattress. We’ve never had one but are intrigued and consider it a positive.
But here’s why the SleepNumber mattress is really a good thing in Blue Man: the bed weighs next to nothing. This is important because there is significant storage under the bed. Lifting the bed with one hand is no problem for my mom.
When we take into account the under-bed storage, the large closets and the deep drawers, we find we have almost as much bedroom and bathroom storage space as we do in our current COW.
The Test Drive
My parents are impressed enough that they want to take Blue Man for a test drive. They think they will lose a small amount of storage space if we buy Blue Man but not enough to deter us from considering a non-slide.
Electronics (or Lack Thereof): the Biggest Issue
My dad is really concerned about not having the sophisticated electronics he has in our current COW. For example, he has a monitor by the steering wheel that provides constant measures of tire pressure, inverter status, generator status, coolant temperature, engine temperature, oil pressure and tank levels. Blue Man doesn’t do this. But our salesman assures us Blue Man has a back-up camera, which is a minimal requirement my dad has.
Uh-oh. It seems the back-up camera or monitor is not working.
We decide to take Blue Man for a spin anyway. Blue Man rides like a Prevost: smooth sailing. Mom loves the comfortable couches, the huge windows and the open floor plan. She and Dad can talk while she is on the couch and he is driving, without having to raise their voices and there is no slide blocking them from seeing each other. It is light and bright.
However, Dad is not impressed with the driverâs seat. He said the cushioning is not enough and the seat will need to be replaced. Additionally, he’s not crazy about the skinny steering wheel and the lack of electronic monitoring on the dashboard. He says it reminds him of the buses he drove for the U.S. Army many years ago. Upgrading the dash with current electronics will be very expensive.
The driver’s side window is small and Dad feels cramped in the space. He also notices a lot of rattles as he’s driving, which he considers “normal” for a bus of this age.
Dad says the long wheel base, tag axle and heavy weight help to make this ride quite smooth and pleasant to drive.
But, the headlights are the original style and will need to be upgraded since we do drive at night.
Meanwhile, Mom is enjoying the smooth ride as a passenger and finds it easy to move around the COW as it’s going down the road. She is surprised she likes having two long couches and doesn’t miss a desk.
Blue Man Specs
- 1998 Prevost Marathon XL Non-Slide
- 159,500 miles
- Engine: Detroit Series 60
- Generator: PowerTech 20KW with 3,000 hours
- Antenna: Winegard
- Satellite: New Road Trip T-4
- Tires: Michelin 315’s – all have been replaced between 2014-2016
Will It Be Blue Man?
Well. What a surprise Blue Man was! It completely opened our eyes to the possibility of having a non-slide. The storage seems to be comparable but you never really know until you actually move things into place.
We’re also surprised we like the idea of having two long couches instead of a couch and a desk. And, we would consider a combo washer/dryer instead of a stacked washer/dryer.
Blue Man is $159,000, which is significantly under our budget, allowing us some room for updates and upgrades. This is the oldest COW we’ve looked at. We’ve learned a lot: for example, we’re not sure we’re ready to step down significantly in terms of electronic monitoring equipment, side cameras, and assisted (versus totally manual) sewer equipment. However, at the right base price, anything and everything can be updated. The only thing you can’t update is the ride itself but Blue Man has a nice ride but does have a lot of rattles.
Next Up… Which One Do We Like Best and What’s Our Trade Worth?
We’ve looked at four very nice COWs, ranging in price from $369k to $139k; from a 2006 to a 1998; from a Prevost to a Newell. Whew. That’s a lot of COWS! And we learned a lot in the process.
Now we need to know what our trade-in is worth… we have a good idea based on what we were told by our Country Coach broker a few months ago but will it be enough to make us jump into a new-to-us COW? Read the COW POW post to find out!
Do you have an older COW?
Tell me about your COW… how have you updated it? What was the update that made you happiest?
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