PREVOST, The Ultimate Class

Want to Buy a Preowned Prevost Coach?
A discussion to help compare coaches for first time buyers...
Since the 1980's many Prevost conversions have been manufactured.  Because the Prevost shells are commercial bus shells, they have a very long life.  A Prevost conversion coach with even over 200,000 miles on it still can provide useful service.  Since hundreds of conversions a year have been created, more and more preowned Prevost conversions are becoming available for purchase.
There is a temptation with first -time buyers to assume that certain conversion companies produce substantially better coaches than others.  While this may be true in certain cases, it is not universally true.  Some conversion companies have made better coaches in specific years, others have put out variable quality in the same years.  A more useful comparison between coaches can be made by knowing more about the systems which are used in Prevost conversion coaches, the shells and the potential for maintenance and reliability.
A properly maintained Prevost coach can be an economical luxury coach, as the original manufacture of the shells is unparalleled.  Further, they cannot be compared with any other manufacturer.  Conversions, on the other hand, are variable; the more you know, the more prudent your purchase.
An historical view of converted coaches...
Shells are manufactured as much as a year or two before a conversion is titled.  The date of manufacture of the shell is always stamped on a metal plate in the engine compartment of a Prevost shell. It can take six months or more to convert a coach, so the time between manufacture and ‘model year’ of a conversion will not match.  This is normal.  So, our discussion will center on the shell date, as that will have a more direct bearing on your assessment of a particular coach.
Before 1988, you may find coaches in a variety of configurations: One may be taller on the inside than another: This can be determined by the number of ribs seen just below the windshield on th front of the coach.  Five ribs will tell you it is a ‘tall’ coach.  Three ribs a ‘short’ coach.  Also, older coaches will be narrow-body coaches, 96" wide; newer coaches 102" wide.  In 1988, Detroit Diesel introduced the DDEC system, which is an electronic fuel injection system for the engine, which was upgraded over the years on the 8V92 engine.  Previous to this date, mechanical fuel injection systems were used.  Mileage tends to be better with a DDEC system, although some mechanics like the idea of a mechanically-regulated system.  The Allison transmission was used, which is a five-speed automatic transmission.  Prevost introduced the Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine in mid-1995.  A few shells were made with the existing 5-speed Allison transmission, however after that, all shells were produced with the 6-speed Allison transmission, just as they are produced today.
From the late 1980's through the earlier 1990's, air conditioning systems on coaches was primarily with the use of Cruise Air systems; with compressors built into the coach.  These are heavy-duty, industrial level units.  Bus or over-the-road air conditioning/heating was installed on some units, utilizing a 24 volt DC power supply, generated by a massive cam-driven 3-phase alternator on the front of the engine.  Units after the mid 1990's tend to have roof-top air conditioners.  All this is about ‘modern’ technology.  When a Cruise Air is working well, you will have no problems.  When it isn’t, it can be very expensive to repair.  The original bus air system likely has R-12 coolant in it; this is very pricey to maintain and conversion to the newer 134a coolant system can be expensive and troublesome.
There are many late-80's and early 90 coaches available in the marketplace which are terrific values, as they have been well maintained. Many can be acquired for less than a new entry-level fiberglass diesel pusher, and you have a Prevost.
Until just a few years ago, there was no choice but to acquire a Prevost without slides.  If you are interested in slides, you will be looking at a much newer coach.  There are a few aftermarket non-Prevost slide coaches before 2000/2001, however the quality of those slide are quite variable as they were adaptations by various companies to put a slide in a Prevost and do not measure up to the Prevost-produced slides of today.
Prior to the introduction of the XLV and H3 series coaches, the only coaches available are the Mirage XL, a riveted, stainless coach, which many think of as the traditional Prevost shell and a few H3-40 non-metal coach conversions.
There has been a progression of other technological changes over the years beyond air conditioning and other systems.  After 1992, convertors had to adhere to the 1992 RVIA standards, especially electrical systems.  Coaches before that time had different industry standards, one notable standard was the lack of a hard-wired ground at the shore power connection.  This can be a big problem if a reverse polarity connection is made, as the coach has only a ‘floating ground,’ which can damage electrical equipment in the coach.  This can be remedied, but you need to know what you are looking at.
Interior treatments on conversions have changed remarkably over the years.  Since the mid 1990s, many conversion companies have worked diligently to reduce the weight of coaches.  Solid laminates have been replaced with newer materials which look the similar but a fraction of the weight.  Solid granite has been largely replaced with granite-faced composite materials. The look is the same, with significant savings in overall coach weight. Solid woods in some cases have been replaced in later years with lighter, high quality veneers.  Corian counters and tops have been replaced with lighter, equally durable materials.
Electronics systems have been dynamically improved over the years.  A mid 1980s coach will likely use aircraft grade toggle switches; new coaches are operated by central remotes with the newest proprietary software.  In between are touch-sensitive control systems with a wide variety of options for lights, electronics, shades, locking mechanisms and the like.
Electrical systems themselves are quite different between model years and convertors.  Many older coaches and newer ‘lesser quality’ conversions are wired with ‘marine style’ cabling from batteries.  A more sophisticated and somewhat more costly system is the use of an electrical ‘bus’ system, which brings the power of the batteries to a central location, from which it is distributed.  High quality coaches use ceramic fuses on conversion side, with the less expensive bi-metal fuses on others.
The same thinking goes into plumbing system.  A more expensive option for distributing fresh water is called a ‘manifold’ system, where water from tanks or shore water is controlled to individual facilities from a central location.  Some older, quality conversions use copper pipes, more modern units often use plastic or PVC water piping, some with or without manifold or distributed control systems.  A manifold water supply system allows users to turn off individual water outlets on the coach for maintenance or pressure controls.
Waste systems vary as well.  Some coaches feature PVC tanks, others stainless steel.  There are benefits and cost variances between the two.  Stainless can rupture; PVC tanks are less expensive however are more susceptible to deterioration and buildup over time than stainless tanks.  Some coaches feature remote or power actuated dump valves, others simply use traditional RV push/pull valves.
Electrical control systems are another difference in the quality of a conversion.  Older coaches using toggle-switch controls are simple and straightforward, however toggle switches can fail and the wiring systems themselves are burdensome; when they work they work well.  More modern systems use 12 volt actuating switches, which lightens the weight and complexity of higher voltage wires themselves, but can be difficult to repair by the owner.  Gauges and systems control switches vary; older coaches often use high-end marine panels for monitoring and controls; other coaches use automotive quality systems.
Heating systems differentiate coaches from one another as well.  Hydronic heating systems which incorporate hot water production, powered by diesel boilers such as the Aqua Hot/Webasto are considered to be a more modern approach to creating warmth and hot water.  Some older coaches use diesel powered or LP fired burners such as the Espar, Primus systems which are either hydronic or hot-air based systems.  Some of those systems can be difficult to maintain and some parts are hard to find.  Hydronic systems are typically low-pressure heat transfer units controlled by thermostats zoned within the coach, often in storage bays as well.  A few conversions have been seen with traditional Suburban LP furnaces, used on fiberglass coaches.  Many coaches also use electric ‘kick’ heaters, two or three to take off the chill when other systems are not necessary.
There are a host of other issues not covered in this introduction.  Many companies have converted Prevost coaches over the years, some more or less successfully; some better than others.  Some preowned coaches were originally produced as custom coaches and others as production coaches.  Many Prevost coaches have been modified or refurbished over the years.  Some of these modifications add to the value of the coach, others do not.  Usually, technological ugrades matter, appearance-based upgrades (except for body paint) do not significantly add to the value of a coach.  A high quality paint job on a Prevost conversion can range from $20,000 to $30,000, depending upon the condition of the existing painted surfaces and the complexity of the paint job itself. 
Of course, such improvements as in-motion satellite, GPS, plasma screens, satellite radio and the like can add to the curb appeal of a coach, but not necessarily directly to the overall value of an older Prevost conversion.
Convertors in general...
It is important to remember that there are many levels in the category of “convertors.”  There are many firms which have produced very low production levels of conversions, and some have been great, others, well, below the expectation of the Prevost shell itself.  Some conversions have been accomplished with tour bus shells, entertainer shells; these shells are not designed for motorhome use and have major drawbacks as they were converted without the express intention of the shell’s ultimate use.  They are exempt from RVIA standards and do not have the benefits of the coach shell.
Many convertors have come and gone over the last 20 or so years and there are a wide variety of Prevost conversions available on the marketplace.  Knowing more about the systems inside of a coach allows buyers to make a more informed decision about the value, use and potential maintenance of a preowned coach.  Look, if you can. At a number of coaches by a given convertor.  Here are some questions you may wish to ask yourself:
1.  Is the convertor still in business?
2.  Are they currently producing custom or production coaches?
3.  Do they maintain records on coaches produced they have produced?
4.  Has their sales volume been more or less constant over the years?
5.  Do they provide customer support for preowned coaches?
Of course, when you walk into and around a coach and say to yourself, “I LOVE this coach,”  much of the above doesn’t matter as much, as often times the acquisition of a Prevost conversion can be an emotional decision.  But somewhere along the way, every coach will require some amount of modernization and maintenance and it’s good to at least have a general idea of what you may be in for, quite literally,  down the road.
Purchasing a coach from a convertor, private party or informed dealer is your best bet, especially when you can really spend some time with the coach and get your questions answered; get to ‘know’ the coach.  Beware of the many internet sites which offer coaches on consignment as the sales people in most cases have never even seen the coaches they are offering.  They have no inventory, no maintenance or service facilities, do not warranty coaches and often have no personal knowledge of the history, maintenance or ownership of what they are selling.  They are agents who are only interested in making a sale and you have no recourse if a coach is misrepresented.
When you get serious about your coach, the seller should be willing to have an informed friend, owner or Prevost center look at the coach.  Any Prevost conversion is a significant investment, not to be made lightly.  Further they are complicated; big machines and subtle, informed observations can make a big difference in the ultimate enjoyment of the Ultimate in Road Transportation.
There many, many more points which can be made about evaluating, assessing and valuing an individual Prevost coach.  The discussion board at is a good place to check out many different opinions and experiences with different conversions and systems, direct from owners themselves.  It’s free and easy to use.  Further the site offers a wide variety of Prevost coaches for sale in various  models, years and conversions which are available for purchase and most Prevost owners love to talk about their coaches.
Check to see if maintenance records are kept, talk to previous owners, if any.  Prevost Car Company maintains records of previous owners and will furnish buyers with that list upon request.  Call them up and learn about their experience with the coach.
Most importantly, if you have any uncertainties about a specific coach, arrange to have it looked at by either a Prevost service center (you can find them listed on this website’s Information Center through the Prevost Car website) or one of the 150 Prevost warranty service centers around the country.  Detroit Diesel also has hundreds of inspection centers around the country and will help you assess the condition of the engine, if you have questions about that.  If a seller balks at having the coach inspected, that is informative as well.  Prevost maintains a national computer data base on each coach serviced and those records are readily available if no hard copy maintenance records are available.
Never hesitate to contact a seller and ask for more information; there are few people who know everything about Prevost conversions, as each coach is uniquely different than another.  The more people you speak with, the more you will know, enhancing your purchase and heightening your ownership experience.
A well thought-out purchase of a Prevost coach is a good beginning to a wonderful luxury motorhome lifestyle, incomparable.  This site offers a wide range of information and a huge number of Prevost owners who chat on the discussion board, use it.  Every owner on the board has gone through the first stages of learning about a coach and most are eager to help the newcomer!


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