An Overview of Cost and Labor for Our Cortez Overhaul

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

While we have never claimed to be experts, we have learned a great deal when it comes to restoring a classic vehicle. For instance, parts can be really hard to track down. This could be due to people not willing to share the information or it could be due to confusion over what is the best replacement for a part no longer manufactured. Either way, this left us entering into a world of the unknown when it came to renovating our brakes, suspension, body panels, glass, and more.  Because we had zero part details, that also meant we had no idea of what to expect in regards to prices for many parts, which at times left budgeting hard.

Saying that though, a true realization we had is that costs are relative.  This fact, sure, we knew this already but now we fully understand.  Essentially, what you would and wouldn’t pay may be the opposite of what someone else would and wouldn’t pay.  A perfect example comes in purchasing our Cortez. Some people say they would never pay over $7,000 for this classic motorhome, others say $7,000 is a steal, and still more 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 $25,000.

Still, this is our story, our restoration, and therefore our Cortez purchases — broken down by categories, subcategories, part numbers and links, quantities, and prices. To start, here is an overview on all of our categories. Know these amounts (and information on the corresponding pages) will continue to be updated so visit again for the latest details!


Want to visit a specific category? Click below to find a breakdown of information, including parts/items, part/item numbers, quantities, and costs!

1965 Clark Cortez Motorhome$7,500.00
Motorhome towing
(from California to Virginia)
Hardware and Tools$1,635.04
GRAND TOTAL$19,085.73

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 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 best to spend for bigger items and then that was it — no other Cortez purchases were made that month. Overall, by stretching our purchase times, we were never hit with one massive bill that impacted us financially.

Second, looking at our Cortez — We do 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 that makes the Cortez a classic so looking at this fact alone, our decision to head this route is totally worth it.

Next, our motorhome will allow us to live a life where we no longer have to be tied to most monthly expenses, such as rent, pet rent, parking, gas, electricity, utilities, trash, sewer, car, cable, and more. Therefore, when analyzing our decision to move towards RV life, 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 move 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 days and time we put in to overhaul our motorhome and equated it to the amount of money we would have paid for professional labor.


(The labor costs is formed using the national average estimate of $80 per hour.)


(How many days we spent to restore, customize, and modernize our Cortez)

(How many days we spent to restore, customize, and modernize our Cortez)

(How much money we would have paid professionals for labor)
117554 hours 45 minutes$44,380.00
Note: Professionals would have been able to reduce hours, though, due to experience.

Looking at that crazy amount alone, I’m convinced that we are headed in the right direction . . . and even though our pace may be slow, it is steady.

For more on our continued work, visit An Overview on Progress for Our Cortez Overhaul. This post will also be continuously updated to discuss the nitty-gritty details on our renovation, customization, and modernization, including our roadmap of work that we have completed, work we are currently undertaking, and work that we have planned ahead.

In the end, thank you so much for visiting! Please leave us a comment if you found this information helpful or let us know how we could make it more so. Here’s to seeing you on the road one day!


Author: L

Hi there! I am the impulsive do-er, the jumper, the one tugging to move past comfort zones to embrace a life of sheer surprise. I am a writer -- a pursuer of stories -- because I believe in the destination over the journey. I am a chaser of sunrises and sunsets and cherisher of the moments between. I have an overwhelming curiosity, an insatiable desire travel, and an obsessive yearn to turn dreams into realities. For all of these reasons, the word that best summarizes who I am is "seeker" -- I am forever 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, 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 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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