A Breakdown of Cost and Labor for Our Cortez Overhaul

Under construction . . . still — Thank you so much for your patience!

When we first got our 1965 Clark Cortez, we promised to be open and honest about our overhaul by sharing products and costs.  While this information feels private, we hope it helps others venturing down this restoration road because this road has taught us much.  

We learned it comes to restoring a classic vehicle, we learned a few lessons: Part numbers and their prices are either really hard to track . . . or people are not willing to share the information. This left us entering into a world of the unknown when it came to renovating our 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 now fully understand what this means.  Essentially, what you would and wouldn’t pay may be the opposite of what someone else would and wouldn’t pay.  A perfect example: Purchasing our Cortez itself. Some people say they would never pay over $7,000 for this classic motorhome . . . while others said $7,000 is a steal . . . and still more admitted they admit they would gladly pay any price to own one.  Since we found ours, we’ve seen other Cortezes pop with price tags from free to $20,000.

Still, this is our story, our restoration, and our Cortez purchases broken down by categories, subcategories, part numbers and links, quantities, and prices.  Know this list will continue to be updated so feel free to visit again and let us know if you found this helpful or how we could make this information more accommodating!


↠ Overview ↞

Want to visit a specific category? Click below to drive there!

AN OVERVIEW OF OUR CORTEZ OVERHAUL COSTS

CATEGORIESPRICES
Motorhome and Accessories$11,676.99
Mechanical$
Electrical$
Bodywork and Welding$
Hardware and Chemicals$
GRAND TOTAL$

While this amount may seem large, the truth is we consider it small compared to the reality of the situation.  This is due to many reasons, which range from how long we saved, what motorhome we chose, what monthly expenses we currently pay, and what labor costs. Here’s more . . .

First, when we say this amount comes from years of saving, we could not be more honest. As crazy as it sounds, Andy bought a ring to propose to me four months after we met and then we were engaged four months later. What was once our Travel Jar of savings soon transformed into our Wedding Fund where we planned to use the money for an extended elopement in Italy. Plans changed again though when we found our Cortez and so — without a second doubt — we emptied our savings for our motorhome and its overhaul. I tell this to illustrate an important fact: By saving for years, we were able to stretch our purchases over the course of months. This prevented us from having to make huge deposits within a short time period. Sure, big purchases have come up, which is why we continue to focus on what month is our best time to spent and then that was it — no other Cortez purchases were made during that time . . . until the next month came. Overall, by stretching our purchase times, we were never hit with one huge bill that impacted us financially.

Second, looking at our Cortez — Simply put, we have a limited and rare vehicle.  In total, there were only around 3,000 of these motorhomes made in sixteen years, and only 394 made in our 1965 year alone.  There’s history to the motorhome too — For example, it is the first motorhome in America with front-wheel drive and the NASA astronauts used it to travel to space shuttles.  (For more on the Cortez’s history, read “A Short History on the Clark Cortez Motorhome”.) There’s so much more though that makes the Cortez a classic so looking at this fact alone, it is mind-blowing that we not only have one but that we could afford one.

Along with this, our motorhome will allow us to live a life where we no longer have to pay for most monthly expenses (rent, pet rent, parking, gas, electricity, utilities, trash, sewer, car, cable, and more). Therefore, when analyzing our decision to move towards vanlife, we hope to save money.

Fourth, before we even purchased our Cortez, we decided we would try to do all the work ourselves — That means refurbishing, modernizing, and customizing our motorhome.  This one decision (courtesy Andy) has been our smartest decision thus far because we have dramatically cut costs.  To give an idea of how substantial this cut was, we kept a tally of the amount of time we have put in to overhaul our motorhome versus the amount of money we would have paid professionals for their labor. (The labor costs is formed using the national average estimate of $80 per hour.)

AN OVERVIEW OF OUR LABOR VERSUS PROFESSIONAL LABOR COSTS

TOTAL DAYS

(How many days we spent to refurbish, modernize, and customize our Cortez)
TOTAL HOURS

(How many days we spent to refurbish, modernize, and customize our Cortez)
TOTAL LABOR COSTS

(How much money we would have paid professionals for labor)
85448 hours 30 minutes$35,880.00
  
Note: Professionals would have been able to reduce hours due to experience.

↠ The Breakdown ↞

Want to visit specific category or subcategory? Click below to find that full page!

A BREAKDOWN OF OUR MOTORHOME AND ACCESSORIES

CATEGORIESQUANTITIESPRICES
Motorhome and shipping2$
Accessories20$
TOTAL$11,676.99

A BREAKDOWN OF OUR MECHANICAL SYSTEM

CATEGORIESQUANTITIESPRICES
Brakes$
Cooling$
Engine$
Fuel$
Steering$
Suspension$
Transmission$
TOTAL$

A BREAKDOWN OF OUR ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

CATEGORIESQUANTITIESPRICES
Battery$
Fuses, Terminals, Wires, Connectors, and Heat Shrink$
Lighting$
Wipers$
TOTAL$

A BREAKDOWN OF OUR BODYWORK AND WELDING

CATEGORIESQUANTITIESPRICES
Bodywork$
Welding
TOTAL$

A Breakdown of Our Tools; Adhesives, Cleaners, and Lubricants; and Personal Protective Equipment

CATEGORIESQUANTITIESPRICES
Tools$
Cleaners and Lubricants
Personal Protective Equipment$
TOTAL$

For more information on our mammoth Cortez project, visit An Overview on Progress for Our Cortez Overhaul. This post will be continuously updated to discuss the nitty-gritty details on work to our fifty-five-year-old vehicle. Here, you’re invited to see our roadmap of work that we have completed, work we are currently undertaking, and work that we have planned ahead.

Thank you so much for visiting and hope to see you on the road!


Author: Soul of a Seeker

We are one American girl and one English bloke who seek an escape in nature. We chase a different life, one not dictated by society. With our pup-kit-cat and rare 1965 Clark Cortez motorhome, we have one soul of a seeker.

3 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!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.