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RV-4s for $40K

These attractive aerobatic/tandem/tailwheel VFR tourers seems to be available for the price of a 1970 Cessna 172.

Is it the caveat emptor of buying an experimental?

They seem very simple to maintain (Lycoming -320, fixed gear, fixed pitch, VFR), and yet 140KTAS plus with good range and good reputation.

Oxford (EGTK)

RobertL18C wrote:

Is it the caveat emptor of buying an experimental?

RV-4 (and -6 and -3) are “old-school” RVs. The new generation with pre-drilled and generally high quality kits came with the -7 and up. They are not comparable. The build quality can be highly variable with the -4, not so much with the -7 and up.


LeSving that explains the RV-7 s being sold for $130k+

They also look more comfortable.

There must be a growing population of Vans aircraft over in Europe, especially if there is a practical route to IFR approval. A 160 KTAS tourer does deserve to file IFR.

Oxford (EGTK)

My impression is that the RV-3s and RV-4s are coming back into vogue after a period during which relatively few buyers were interested in them. They are fast, efficient, simple and aerobatic. A guy I know bought an RV-4 for $37K a year or so ago, did some work on it, flew it a while and sold it within a week for $44K. I’ve noticed the same resurgence of interest in the US and in the UK.

I think the limitation relative to later RVs is that an RV-4 is comfortable and practical carrying (for instance) a man and his small wife, but not to carry two large people. The guy across the hangar row from me flies all over the map with his RV-4 and diminutive lady, and they love it. It’s a 1+1, and that works well for some people, but not all. A big passenger may not fit, plus the CG moves aft and changes the handling.

Build quality varies, as it would for any ‘non-industrialized’ (my term) homebuilt, but of course some of them are fine. A local RV-6 guy I know just finished an RV-3 single seater as a supplement to the RV-6 he built and has been flying for 10 years. He likes to build stuff, and his -3 is gorgeous. Another guy on the airport did aerobatics almost every day in his RV-4, flying it solo for the most part, and it held up well over several years.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 29 Oct 14:07

Silvaire many thanks, I also thought the passenger in a RV-4 might need to be petite.

Here is a list of RV projects in the U.K., so the community this side of the Atlantic is growing.

Oxford (EGTK)

…and here quite a comprehensive build diary for an RV-7 in the UK…

Oxford (EGTK)

Reading that build diary I noticed that after completing the RV-7 the fellow restored a Great Lakes, then (in tiny print at the bottom of the page ) he started on an RV-4 project… Which makes my point nicely about resurgent interest in that model.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 30 Oct 00:57

The RVs are lovely but IMHO the RV4 was the peak. Everything that came after was just marketing.

ChuckGlider wrote:

The RVs are lovely but IMHO the RV4 was the peak

I agree. But, build wise the difference is a factor 2-3 more hours for the -4 compared with the newer versions. The newer versions can also be bought as quick built, and will then take a fraction to build. All other things equal. Even so, the -4 is still very popular, and is considered to be the best to fly of them all. The -7 / -14, -8, and in particular the -9 and -10 are more travelling machines, while the -4 is more of a “fun flyer”. Where the -4 shines, is when it is built simple and light (VFR, fixed pitch), and if you want more power, more equipment, more room, constant speed etc, then it would be “better” to build an -8. Many use the -4 as a kind of bush plane also. But then again, only the -4 has flown around the world several times, so it is a proven traveling machine like the best.

Here are the recent numbers by Vans

Listed by Model
RV-3 294
RV-4 1,397
RV-6/6A 2,594
RV-7/7A 1,538
RV-8/8A 1,365
RV-9/9A 1,029
RV-10 815
RV-12 477
RV-14/14A 15

I am told importing an Experimental from the USA is not impossible. If they fly round the world you could ferry it on the N reg, presumably by getting an overfly permit where necessary, and then you would place it on the Permit system following an annual type inspection by an LAA inspector?

Again RV-4s, presumably built to a good standard – not that difficult to check with an A&P, for $40k seem very good value.

Oxford (EGTK)
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