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Full Version: What about those little Winnebago Itasca Phasar motorhomes? Its the smallish front wheel drive motorhome with a 4 cylind
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I'm looking at a 88 Winnebago Itasca Phasar for $2000 but I could probably get it for a lot less. You can see photos of them here: The Phasar is one of those small front wheel drive Class B motorhomes with a gas Renault 4 cylinder engine. I'm skeptical of a Renault engine and especially one that is only 4 cylinders. This one probably has a blown head gasket or possibly a cracked head so I don't know this is a project I'm willing to tackle cuz it could become a major money pit. The inside of and outside of the vehicle is really clean so I might check it out tonight. There is a place in Montana that converts them to Chrysler 4 cylinders engines but charges a whopping $14,000 to $16,000 to do it! Ah, no way.

Does anyone know anything about these vehicles?

I have an '87 that I bought in the same condition.  Blown head gasket.  Mine ended up requiring a replacement head because of warpage.  The Renault engine is actually a VERY GOOD engine and very reliable IF you do your maintenance.  One of the biggest problems with the engine is it's tendancy to overheat.  I put in a new water pump, timing belt, accessory belt and ALL new hoses during the head replacement and mine has never gone over about 60% of the gauge.

I love this little motorhome.  I get about 18mpg at 60mph.  The gearing is such that 60mph is 4000rpm which at first would probably bother did me...but you get used to it and it just purrs along.  They ride and handle EXTREMELY well.  I am very pleased and find mine very comfortable.

Currently I have about $2500 in mine but I am going to dump about another $1000 for new tires and shocks all around.  Mine had 56,000 miles on it when I got it and everything other than the engine seemed to be in excellent shape.  They are pretty well built with a steel floor and alluminum framing members (on top) and styrofoam sandwich sides.  Very hardy.  Most people that have them are mechanically inclined and love the little demons.  HA

Thanks Dave!

I did find out after starting this thread that those Renault engines are decent. I made some phone calls about the vehicle but never did check it out cuz the guy was going out of town.

I have a few questions please...

1) Am I right to assume that the engines are really difficult to work on because everything is crammed into such a small space?

2) Are parts insanely expensive?

3) Is the reason for the blown head gaskets because the 4 cylinder engine tends to overheat because it has to work so hard to push all that weight and people aren't watching the temperature gauge closely and/or they think that even if its running hot that they can drive it just a little farther until it seriously overheats and there goes the head gasket or even a cracked head?

4) Do you know what the basic differences are between the Phasar and the Lesharo?

5) You said you have only $2500 into it so far. Can you tell me how much you bought it for? Did you do the head replacement yourself or pay someone to do it?

Thanks again.
I can tell you that my fathers Renault "Lecar" of 80's vintage was miserable to work on, and that, yes, parts were pricey and tough to find ( in the days of pre-Internet). There was a diesel version available as well, though I think they were even less popular. I recently bought the pump, tanks, and inverter/converter/charger out of a wrecked 85 LeSharo. Really nice size for one or two. That's about all I know of them.

Go to the above address.  You'll get a ton of information on these little motorhomes (not so little inside).

I don't consider them hard to work on.  Of course, I've worked on a big block Corvette, so I'm pretty used to things being tight.  Seriously, there is some snugness on the intake side of the engine, but not bad. The other side is wide open.

Parts: You can get lots of parts through cross referencing with US parts.  Renault specific parts can be purchased through Rock Auto and other websites.  Stuff like tires, shocks, spark plugs, etc are all readily available. Timing belts, water pumps, etc usually have to be ordered but living in Alaska, I'm used to that too.

Parts are NOT extravagantly priced.  If you buy from Winnebago, yeah they are pretty expensive.

The Renault J7T engine used in these motorhomes is well known for it's reliability.  The key to these engines is maintenance.  Oil must be changed, valves must be adjusted, etc.

The weakest link is the auto transmission w/final drive (differential). They have to be maintained and driven wisely...shifting manually before it's lugging it's A-- off.  Personally, I have had no problem and enjoy "driving" if you will.

The Winnebago Lesharo and Itasca Phasar are the same vehicle.  I've heard that the Phasar is the Plush Sister to the Lesharo.  I have not seen that myself.  They are identical as far as I know.

You will hear a lot of naysayers.  Most, if any, have never owned or driven the Lesharo.  I was pretty hesitant myself...but now I love it and plan on keeping it.  18-21mpg...what can I say?  I've owned a couple of "C"s,and one "A"...and this is my favorite by far.  Keep in mind, they are not for everyone, 2 people comfortably...4 people tight.

Driving is smooth, comfortable and they handle VERY well.  Very little wind buffeting.  Are they slow?  Yep...but not excessively so and they cruise nicely at 60mph on the highway.  People will pass you, but not too many other motorhomes.

Look at the website, check out the motorhome completely....and good luck.
Oh, you asked what I paid.  $750 and mine had a awning which needs to be attached. The $1750 I've put into it were"  Paid to have it towed to my house, licensing and registration, water pump, hoses, all new belts, thermostat, had the radiator boiled out, valve grind gasket set, wires, rotor, cap and miscellaneous other small parts, including oils, lubes, filters, etc., and other small parts...plugs, you know.

I was quoted over a $1500 for labor on the gasket replacement, so I did it myself with help from my nephew-in-law mechanic.  In actual man hours we probably had 10hrs in it. There are a couple of differences from US cars, but nothing you can't handle.  Get the manuals (yes they are available) and follow them.  I have a lot of experience and I'm glad I had the books.

I think they are pretty interesting. Incidentally, mine had 56K on the clock and still has 130 lbs of compression right across the board and  it appears to me from the oil and other things that it was not very well taken care of.  Mine also blew the head gasket.  The lower radiator hose broke and the thermoswitch to operate the radiator fans didn't turn on the fans.  By the time he knew he had a problem, it had blown the head gasket and warped the head.

Another common element on these engines is they crack exhaust manifolds.  There is way to fix that.  If you buy one, give me a email and I'll tell you how to fix it...or join the above mentioned blog.

Thanks for all the great information guys. The guy selling it was out of town when I could look at it and now his ad has expired. It may have been a good deal so I'm hoping he will repost it if it's still available.

I am looking at a 1985 Lasharo, the cons are the reverse is out, has some water damage by the air vent. The rest of the rig looks to be good.
Is it worth the effort to bring this rig back to life.
The good its only 300 bucks.
OMG you guys are cheap demigods!!   This is an incredible find for the dollars you are investing. The catch I see so far is you need to be a good shade tree mechanic to keep it working well. Still anything below $5000 is a steal. 
Hi, I'm new to this site.  I know where anyone can get two Lesharo's here in Florida for $1800 and $1200  both are the gas version and I think 1988 & 1987.  I just purchased an 85 diesel in good shape for $2000.00.  If anyone's interested in either one of these let me know! is an excellent source for parts and questions. 
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