Zenith Zodiac 601XL-B Value (What is It's Market Value ???)


(690 Hours total time.)

(The following is my opinion) ...

I bought it, I built it, I maintain it and I fly it, but what the airplane's worth on the market?  Six years down the road the general overview of my Zenith experience has been good.  It has been a total learning experience that taking through purchase, transport, inventory, assembly, insure, top overhaul and flying.  However, this does not address the value of my airplane on the market.  I built my 601XL because of the designer, the supplier, the Quick build version, self maintainance and the information advertized at the time.  When I first researched buying an airplane back in 2006 I took a very wide view and looked at many chioces.

(Wing Upgrade, 2009.) 

I thought my fifty thousand dollar investment combined with sweet equity would produce an a/c worth approx 10K less than the certified factory built version of the same a/c.  Through 2007 to 2010, a 601XL model was getting circa 75K on the market.  Yes, factors such as IFR vs. VFR, engine size, and paint make a difference, but the mean value was around 75K.  Then variablies out of my control came into play and adversely affect the market value.  Of 6,000 sold and 3,000 flying, five world wide crashed.  It is my opinion but the accidents follow our flight trainning that states all accidents are of more than one cause.  Poor building, poor maintainacne and poor fliying are a deadly combo.  After enjoying a lot of good publicity and model took a hit.  Anti-Zenith Boggers got real aggressive and the fence sitters got of the fence in the other direction.  Zenith themselves did not management damage very well either.  Note that there have been no accident events of that type with this model since the B upgrade was introduced.  However, after the fix was in the market value tanked.  I can say this because I lived it.  My airplane went from being a good investment with  a high resale value to becoming a upside down market value item.  While it seems that the fix of the wing took, it did not restore the model's market value.  Since 2010, most built and flying 601XLs advertise @  circa 45K.  Yes, there are exceptions but the mean value looks like 45K. 


(Top overhaul, 2013.)


The next point of order is what engine one put in their 601XL.  Put the Jabiru 3300 in mine basically because Zenith did.  I took a ride and flow in thier 601Xl.  While other engines were availuable, I liked the smooth 6 clyinder power of 120 horses and it's light weight.  The Jabiru started better than any other engines and sounded great.  My version of the Jabiru had hydraulic lifters which was an improvement in progress.  But the Bing carby was in the end a problem for me and my Jabiru.  It started great and seemed to run smoothly but it turns out that there was issues unseen.

Cooling, tuning at different altitudes and different climates turned out to be a problem.  With the absents of a manual mixture control the Bing had issues.  Some of the fixes were to turn the carby on it's side, dam the intake, divid the intake and fin the airducts, change the jets, etc.  So, at 680 hours the engine needed a top overhaul because of stuck rings and carbined covered pistons ( low compressions & poor starts).  I bought a Rotec TBI-40S and will replace the Bing.


(Rear-ended by Bi-plane in 2010.) 


In my case, I flying over a hundred hours a year and fly year round.  I think those 601xl / Jabiru pilots that fly fifty hours or less will get to my outcome deeper in the calender, but they will top overhaul early.  Know that many of the parts are automotive and  are time tens less expensive at the car parts store and with Jabiru.  Do your research, do your maintainance and fly @ the recommended numbers.

(Airborne again, 2013.)


In Conclusion, Market Value is the only unknown about the 601XL-B model that is unclear to me.  I think my airplane is priceless, but market value in my opinion is upside down.  I would like to hear from other owners, builders, and pilots of 601XL-B about market value.     


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Comment by Mark Ertz on April 27, 2013 at 6:40am

James, great comment.  I like your overview, but was thinking less given the goble econ.  Ian, why?  pilot side...

Comment by Ian McClelland on April 26, 2013 at 5:48pm

Hi Mark.

Interesting stuff. Is that an oil temp sensor on the RH side of the Jabiru sump?

Comment by James Cameron on April 24, 2013 at 9:38pm


I watch the used experimental market religiously.  It has been one of my pastime hobbies for the past 10 years.  I will add my $.02, but keep in mind that’s really all its worth.

First:  Airplanes across the entire spectrum of the new and used market, from small LSAs up to the corporate jets have taken a hit since the decline of the world economy in 2008. 

Second:  Regarding the experimental amateur built (EAB) category, I would say that it is generally accepted that a builder is lucky to sell it for what he has in it.  Rarely is a builder’s labor compensated in the sale of an EAB.

Third:  The quality of construction and appearance of EAB aircraft within same make/models can run the gamut of comparisons from a kindergartner with crayons to one of Michael Angelo’s works of art.  You can see this when you walk the flight line at Oshkosh.  It’s easy to tell who used Krylon and who used Imron.  First impressions are everything in life.  I know it’s not always true, but if the exterior looks bad, it’s usually indicative of what lies beneath those wing and fuselage skins.

Fourth:  A potential buyer usually starts to base his/her perception of value starting with what they think they can sell it for or what someone else would pay for it.  For example, a certain buyer may not mind owning an aircraft with an automotive conversion, but knowing that most buyers would shy away from this, he’ll probably offer less.  Also, when a new version or edition comes out, the baseline value of the older models will automatically fall below what the newer models sell for.  With all other things being equal, would someone spend the same amount for a first edition CH-750 if a 3rd edition 750 is on the market for the same price?  Did the value (demand) of the 701 change when the 750 came out?  Will the improved looks of the CH-650 cast a shadow over the CH-601XL, as the XL did to the HDS and HD models?

Finally:  Yes, there was an apparent stigma with the 601XL/650 models shortly after the accidents.  I feel that as time has gone on with a lack of any structural issues that the negative perceptions are waning.  I didn’t see what you had in the panel, but most of the Jabiru-equipped 601s (EAB) that I see usually list for $50,000 to $65,000.

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