Winnebago LeSharo

New owners and would-be owners have lots of questions.
Craig wrote this post in 2002.
His story is amusing but also sad because from what I've read, it may be too typical.

An open letter to the LeSharo support group:

I've been reading the "V-6 Conversion Vacation" installments on the conversion to Chrysler power with great interest and compassion. I bought my LeSharo in "excellent" condition in August. I have a similar "SAAB Story," oops- I mean LeSharo story. Excuse my French.

On its virgin voyage to the Arizona desert, the a/c died before I left the driveway. After I got it working, it dripped water on my head all the way to St. Louis, where the alternator died. That lasted until Deming, New Mexico, where the other alternator died. Since that time, it's eaten 2 more alternators, an a/c compressor, 2 relays, a radiator hose, a battery, 3 bulbs, 2 serpentine belts, a power steering belt, and a partridge in a pear tree. The exhaust system fell off. It has 2 a/c condensation problems in the cab roof, only one of which I've figured out. The rear brake cylinders are named Leaking and Frozen, respectively. Last weekend the radiator fans didn't kick on while idling, and the engine overheated. The coach water pump doesn't shut off automatically.

That doesn't include the $600 set of tires to stop the shimmy or the transmission cooler I put on out of sheer terror based on the internet stories I read about overheating. Or the $8 Million dollar oil and transmission filters available only from the WWII manufacturing trust in Belfast, Northern Iowa.

Coming back through Texas, a coyote got into an argument with the LeSharo on the Interstate. The LeSharo won. An alternative legend says that the coyote was also a LeSharo owner who threw himself under the rv at 60 mph. In Arkansas, a funny little man came running across the gas station parking lot, yelling, "Have you had it converted yet?" He had a Rialta parked in his driveway. He's dead now, too.

My beloved mechanic refers to it as "The UFO." I'm thinking more in terms of demonic possession. But the Catholic church refuses to do an exorcism, declaring, "We know when we're licked. We'll take the Devil on, but not this thing. It's EVIL." Several other wise guys have asked if it is the "Urban Assault Vehicle" from the "Stripes" movie. In all honesty, I'm not sure.

After much prayer, my religious doctrine is that on the first day, God made idiots. That was practice for making Winnebago on the second day. Both my mechanic and I both refer to the French electrical engineer as "The Prince of Darkness."

My Mechanic Pete makes me hide it behind his shop. He's afraid someone else will see it and make him work on theirs, too. He has a silver cross in his tool box, which he holds up when he opens the hood. It works out ok. It's always in the repair shop anyway, so it saves me storage cost. I'm now the major funder of his 401(k). I'm trying to figure out if this is tax deductible.

He says that the "2.2 Renault engine" I keep reading about here means that it spends 2.2 months in the shop for each day on the road. My friend better versed in French claims that "LeSharo" roughly translates into "The Sorrow," but I don't know if any of this stuff is true or not.

One thing I AM sure about is that AAA Rv Plus Protection is definitely a bargain. My most relaxing trip was being towed home 150 miles on their flatbed. I also know that this beast is costing me $.50/mile in maintenance with 51,000 miles on it. The cost of parts rivals Mercedes Benz, but somehow the name "Yugo" comes to mind when I try to get all the parts working together at the same time. That's never happened since the day I bought it. With the 4th $400 alternator disco-flashing the "I'm not working" indicator light again after 300 miles, I must consider alternatives, buy my own flatbed tow truck to vacation with, or sign up for welfare. Or perhaps simply call AAA to follow along behind with a mechanic in a tow truck when I leave the driveway.

My problem, that everyone else on this site seems to have, is that I'm totally hooked on this Piece of Crap that Pierre Built. If I ignore the fact that the engine never works completely, and that if it ever did, "running" is a relative term; the rest of the machine is everything I could ever want. It drives and handles well, and I can parallel park it in city traffic. The previous owner completely redesigned the interior, which I like much better than the original configuration.

I have a 1991 Dodge Dynasty in the driveway with the 3.3 Chrysler engine. In its first 135,000 miles the cruise control and the water pump went out, both fixed under warranty for $25. I replaced the ignition switch and a broken wire for < $100 out of warranty. Period. I put brake shoes on it once, and an exhaust system. I change the oil every year or two on the principle of the thing. It has the original spark plugs. My mechanic says I should change them. I've ignored this little heresy. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I say. It's pulled a pop-up camper for a decade with no ill effects. The '92 Plymouth van sitting beside it has had a slightly less stellar record, yet very good @ 100,000 miles. I had to replace the spark plugs. So I'm accustomed to vehicles that run.

My therapist has recommended that I find a support group for my problem, so here I am. Trouble is, the rest of you seem as irrationally attached to this French Money Pit as I am. Nonetheless I have 3 questions for all of you fellow LeSharists: First, given the driveway choice of angel and devil every day, why do I keep driving off in the LeSharo, only to drive back in the cab of a tow truck a day later? Item 2, why do I pay huge amounts of money for Item 1 from the Little LeSharo of Horrors that screams "FEED ME" every damn day?

But more importantly, what do you Pioneers who have had your LeSharos converted to the 3.3 Chrysler engine feel about your choice many miles later? I'm sold on the 3.3 engine. And any company brave enough to take on the Prince of Darkness single handedly has my attention and respect. But I also know that the first Pioneers are the ones often more easily recognized as those found dead by the side of the road with arrows in their backs as the second wave of settlers cruises by in it's rv's.

I figure for the little money I paid for the rv, with an additional $12k conversion I could potentially have a premier rv that actually gets me there. Making it home from the repair shop would be success at this point. It would be still cheaper than a similar mileaged Rialta, which seems to have swapped out the funny little French engine for a funny little German one. But I don't want to spend good money after bad.

Greg says with this conversion, a LeSharo can leap tall mountains and paddle across the Pacific on a teacup of gas. I'd like to find out where reality is before they slam the asylum door on me.

What say you, fellow Masochists? Should I convert to Chrysleranity, or should I drive this Weenie Bag O'---- into an elm tree at 60 mph to drive a wooden stake through its heart once and for all? All comments good and bad will be deeply appreciated.