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I was planning to deal with private parties for both the purchase and later disposal, but am open to suggestions.

Harder to find, harder to sell, but if you can find the one you want it's the way to go. (That's how we did it, quite by accident.)

Any reason to avoid tow dollies?

Convenience. I can hitch/unhitch the car in the time Mrs. Goofy is inside registering. With a dolly you have to make it to the campsite, drop the car, drop the dolly, wheel it out of the way, then get into the site. Triple, quadruple the time. However if you're not sure if this is going to be a more-than-one-time deal, then I'd forgo the modifications on the car, which as you point out, won't be recovered.

(We actually tried it with a motorscooter for the first year, but that wasn't sufficient, so we bought a used Geo Tracker and pull that behind, and moved the scooter up to the front end. Now we have two modes in case she wants to do one thing and I want to do another, which happens. (Some people just drive the rig, then rent an Enterprise when they get where they're going. Not awfully practical if you're hopping every two days, but if you're somewhere for a week...)

Any thoughts on diesel vs. gasoline for the motor? Rear vs. front engine?

Diesels are more sturdy and last longer. Probably not a compelling issue for you. They are more powerful, so if you have a lot of load that could be important. You'll find them on larger rigs, gas on smaller (and cheaper.) Diesel fuel costs more per gallon, but has more energy (I'm told) so the price differential is not as big as it may seem.

My favorite part: diesel engines are in the rear, so you don't hear them. I like that a lot when we're driving, driving, driving. We have a diesel rig, which also has a 7.5kw Onan generator (which is heavy) and we haul a scooter on the front, a car on the back, and a full load, so we need the power. That said, our engine is at the low end of the spectrum and we labor going up hills, but then I'm not a speed demon about this, especially with 27,000 pounds under my foot.

You won't find a gas engine in the rear, nor a diesel in the front, except in unusual circumstances. (They do exist, but it's a 99% rule.) Gas rigs are *significantly* cheaper, like by $50k at least. $100k cheaper is not uncommon, and $250k and $300k less expensive isn't out of the ballpark. Go to an RV show. The upper end is exclusively diesel, the lower end gas, some mixture in the middle.

We usually carry an electric cooler in the car, so have some refrigerated storage available. Well, except for when the car is parked. I drained the car battery once leaving it plugged in to the "always on" outlet in the van.

There's a gizmo you can buy which monitors the usage and cuts off the fridge if the voltage gets too low. From Koolatron, about $30. I have one. It works.

I have both a minicooler for the car (holds about 8 soda cans) and a much larger version for the basement in the bus. Here's a pic; you can get it for about $80 at WalMart:

The fridge in our rig is small, and since we went on diets we cook a lot more than before (and needs lots of veggies & fruit) so this has worked out very well for us. Not powered when driving, but when plugged in comes down to temp quickly and holds it for a decent interval...
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