So we finally did "the thing," and got around to posting about it! After six years with the Palazzo, two of them as full timers, we sold it to a wonderful couple from South Caroline and purchased a beautiful, new 2022 Entegra Aspire 44B for our new home. It was not long before the imposing size and predominately black and blue color earned it it's nickname..."Bruiser."
We'll eventually post a full "tour" of Bruiser when we've finished our summer trip to see family and friends around the country, but suffice it to say it is absolutely gorgeous, and we could not be happier with either the coach or the purchase experience, despite the lingering concerns about the effects on COVID on build quality, delivery delays and pricing.
Three and a half years ago Margaret and I found ourselves at NIRVC in Atlanta for some repairs on the Palazzo, and we seriously considered purchasing a 2018 Aspire 44B that just happened to arrive on their lot during our visit. It wasn't our favorite color, the inside was a wood choice we wouldn't have chosen, but otherwise the coach was optioned just as we would want it. We went so far as to have the Palazzo appraised for a trade-in price and negotiated a percentage off the MSRP to purchase the Aspire. The time just wasn't right for us, however, and we basically chickened out and made the decision to remodel the Palazzo instead.
Fast forward to July of 2021.... The RV world had been rocked by supply shortages and unprecedented demand for motorhomes. Pretty much every new unit was sold before hitting a dealer's lot. Some manufacturers were quoting lead times of nine months or more on new orders, and many unscrupulous dealers were selling coaches at full MSRP (or in a few unbelievable cases for a premium over MSRP). And, even if one could negotiate a reasonable price for a new coach, there where reports of shoddy construction and partially-completed units sitting in rows on storage lots in and around the Elkhart, IN region waiting for furniture, appliances, air conditioners, and other components to arrive so they could be completed and shipped to customers.
Despite this horrible timing, Margaret and I decided that life was simply too short to delay our move to a larger, more comfortable home, any longer. While pre COVID we did a lot of socializing in restaurants, bars, and other public venues, we were now spending most of our life in and around our RV, and as wonderful as the Palazzo had been, it simply wasn't large or comfortable enough to serve as anyone's sole, year-round, residence. We reached out to our salesperson at NIRVC and requested a new quote and delivery estimate for a 2022 Aspire built to our specifications, and this time we would allow nothing to change our mind and we were in for a number of pleasant surprises.
The first surprise was that NIRVC Atlanta quoted the exact same percentage off MSRP for the purchase of our 2022 Aspire as they had quoted us years previously. Unlike many other dealers during the period we placed our order, NIRVC's President and CEO, Brett Davis, had made a big deal about wanting customers for life and knowing that cheating people now would not win his company any loyalty for the future. This meant that while MSRPs had gone up in the time since we'd originally considered purchasing an Aspire, they really hadn't gone up all that much and the price we ended up paying was very much in line with the inflation rate over the previous three years. And, if we had any doubts about the fairness of that price, the "Show Price" on the same model of Aspire at the January, 2022 Tampa RV Show was a full $100,000 more than what we paid for our coach. Pity the poor folks who fell for that offer!
The next surprise was learning that we could pay a nominal fee to have the paint scheme on our coach customized to our liking. We ended up swapping two colors (the blue for white, and the white for blue), and we think the results were absolutely stunning! The third surprise was that our coach was completed before Christmas (just five months after we placed our order), and though it took a bit of time to get it shipped to Atlanta and readied for pickup, it meant we were able to take delivery and get it back down to Florida after the holidays and the worst part of the winter weather.
And the final surprise? Despite all the dire warnings from RV media (and social media blowhards), the quality of build on our coach is amazing. NIRVC did a great job of their PDI, they were very responsive to our needs and requests during the delivery process, and the coach has proven to be very solid and dependable to date. Have we had to fix a few things? Of course! I've not only had to turn a screwdriver a few times, I've found a few other things I felt I could improve. But the point is, nothing to support the notion that one can't buy a quality product during COVID. Perhaps this is just true of Entegra, though I doubt that. Despite what people often say about the RV industry, I truly believe the better manufacturers have a lot of pride in their products and truly want to make their customers happy.
As this is written, we are about 6,000 miles into an 8K+ mile summer trip which will include a week in Middlebury, IN for the Entegra University in early September. We look forward to visiting the factory and leaning more about this amazing piece of equipment we call "Bruiser."
Extract Junk, Inject Living