A Breakdown of Costs for Our Cortez’s Overhaul

When we first got our 1965 Clark Cortez, we promised to be open and honest about costs.  While it feels odd to tell people how much we’ve paid for our motorhome and the overhaul to it, we hope this information can help others venturing down this road.  

And this road has taught us much.  For instance, in our renovation journey, we’ve learned cost information is hard to come by because few people are willing to be upfront.  In fact, this led us to entering a world of the unknown when it came to renovating aspects such as the brake system, suspension, body panels, glass, and more.  Another realization we had is that costs are relative.  This fact, sure, we already knew but we are learning to be comfortable with this.  Essentially, what you would and wouldn’t pay for something may be the opposite of what someone else would and wouldn’t pay.  Saying this, when we began researching Cortezes, some people said they would never pay over $7,000 for one . . . while others said $7,000 is a steal . . . and still more admitted they would gladly pay any price to own one.  Since we found ours, we’ve seen others pop with price tags that were $12,000, $15,000, and $18,000.

Without further adieu though, here is our every Cortez purchase and the price associated with it.  Know in advance this list will continue to be updated in hopes of helping others and raising awareness in RV renovations so feel free to visit again.

A Breakdown of Our Cortez’s Expenses

Cortez ExpensesPart NumbersPrices
GRAND TOTAL OF EXPENSES------------------$12,158.10
1965 Clark Cortez------------------$7,500.00
Shipping from California to Virginia------------------$3,800.00
Spare keys and key ring------------------$10.84
Starter motorDL3251S$69.00
Battery cable (negative)DT415B$7.99
Battery cable781169$17.99
Battery cable connector728039$2.69
Wheel cylinder (front driver side)33541$23.49
Wheel cylinder (front passenger side)33540$23.49
Wheel cylinder (rear passenger side)33003$33.99
Wheel cylinder (rear driver driver side)33002$33.99
Brake shoes (front driver's and
passenger's sides)
TS TS33$21.99
Brake linePAX-451 $7.99
Brake unionBLU-4C$2.69
Brake fluid (X 2)AS401Y$12.00
Brake bleeder kitBK 7769038$6.69
Caliper paintBCP102$8.99
Engine oil10-40-5QT$29.99
Engine oil filterS16$4.99
Engine oil drain plug653056$3.29
Fuel filler hoseD225SX$43.50
Fuel filler hose clamp (X 2)KB36$4.50
Door mirrors and assembly(private owner)$125.00
Reverse lamp reflector(private owner)FREE!
Exterior incandescent light bulbs
(front and rear) (X 4)
LMP 1157N$5.16
Exterior incandescent light bulbs
(clearance) (X 2)
LMP 89N$2.58
Wipers (X 2)6-1865$21.98
Washer bottle kitVPE-10400$33.41
Windshield washer nozzleRNB-47137$11.99
Windshield washer fluid113645$4.99
Respirators (X2)62023HA1-C$37.97
Goggles (X2)HDX Splash Impact
Resistant Goggles
PrimerTranstar 2-in-1 Primer:
White 4633
Rust converterDC RF129$9.99
Tools (tube bender pliers, double
flaring tool)
Steel rod801607$5.85
Miscellaneous (tarp, epoxy compound,
bolts, nuts, washers, screws)
Carburetor cleaner
Cleaning supplies
(brush, towels, fuel cleaner, degreaser,
brake cleaners, WD-40, grease, PB blaster)

Note: The brake line and compression union should not be needed; we had to purchase these because of an error in fitting our brake cylinder.

While this amount may seem large, the truth is we consider it small compared to the reality of the situation.  We say this for many reasons, which range from analyzing what motorhome we have, what month expenses we are currently paying, and what current auto labor costs.

First, looking at our Cortez — The truth of the matter is we have a limited and rare vehicle.  In total, there were only around 3,000 of these motorhomes made in sixteen years; in our 1965 year, only 394 made.  There’s history to it too — It is the first motorhome in America with front-wheel drive and the NASA astronauts used it to travel to space shuttles.  There’s so much more to make the Clark Cortez a classic so looking at this fact alone, it is mind-blowing that we not only have one but that we have put in such little costs so far to own it and turn it into our home.

Along with this, our motorhome will allow us to live a life where we no longer have to pay for many monthly expenses (rent, rent pet fees, parking, gas, electricity, utilities, trash, car payments, TV, and more) — When analyzing it this way, we will actually be saving money.  A lot of money.

Third, before we even purchased our Cortez, we decided we would do all the work ourselves — That means refurbishing, modernizing, and customizing our motorhome.  This one decision (courtesy Andy) has been our smartest thus far.  By choosing to do all work ourselves, we have dramatically cut costs.  To give an ideal of how substantial this cut was, we are keeping a tally of the amount of hours we’ve put in and comparing this to what it would have cost if we paid for the auto labor.

A Breakdown of Our Hours, Our Labor, and Estimated Mechanic Labor Costs


How many days we spent to refurbish, modernize, and customize our Cortez:

How many hours we put in to overhaul our motorhome:

How much it would have cost if we paid a mechanic for labor (This, at a national average of $80 per hour):

Note: A mechanic likely would have been able to reduce hours due to experience though.

* * * * *

For more information on our Cortez renovation, visit Our Cortez’s Master Plan. Here, we discuss the nitty-gritty details on work to our fifty-four-year-old vehicle. Also, for immediate news — such as what we’ve finished and what we are doing next — visit To Our Timeline and to Beyond!  Both of these will be continuously updated so stop back for the latest!


5 thoughts

  1. Hello,

    I too am interested in renovating a Cortez, leaning more towards the Kent Cortez as I like the side door. It would be a project I would take on in the next five years, then travel with my dog Lucy (Malinois/Shepherd Mix so great watchdog/guard dog as well). I am sure you know about this resource, http://cortezcoach.com/ but putting it here just in case you do not know of it. Please document the parts/processes you use to repair or replace parts. If I ever take on this project, I would be having some mechanic friends of mine do the work. I work for a company that makes welding equipment, in case you ever have welding questions, some of my co-workers might have insight on that.

    1. Hi, Colleen! Good to hear from you and keep us posted if you get a Kent! That’s really exciting and I completely agree with you about the side door. Also your dog Lucy sounds like a sweetheart — I’d love to see a picture of her so if you wanted to share, feel free to email us at 2people1soulofaseeker@gmail.com. When we do take to the road, we’ll have our dog and cat with us too so I hope they enjoy it!
      Thank you for the information on the CortezCoach — We did know about that site and found another site called Curbside Classic that has great information on the history of the Clark Cortez. We will definitely continue to document the parts and process — We have a bit more on our process video-wise on our YouTube channel too and would love it if you subscribed!
      Lastly, *great* information about welding — We may be taking you up on that offer!
      Thank you so much again for stopping in and writing!

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