I rolled the dice on eBay when I found a Sundance Cameo selling locally in Oakland. Won it for under $700 in early Dec '04. Girlfriend loves hot tubbin' so it made a perfect Xmas gift... if it worked, that is. Didn't know at the time it was 15+ years old. Shell is in amazing shape with minor scuffs and negligible signs of sun damage in a couple of areas. Wood framing behind the skirt was shagged but powertools and $85 worth of lumber/screws/etc. took care of that. Redwood rim between the shell and skirt was impressively intact and so I just refinished it. Redwood skirt was beaten up but we showed it some sanding love and slapped some Cabot Australian Timber Oil Mahogany Flame on it and now it looks muy sexy. GREAT stain. One trick is to flip the skirt panels over and refinish the previously unstained side. Insulation behind the wood framing was splotchy and dry-rotted in places, but hey it's insulation and it's 15 years old so I didn't worry about it.
Going only on the seller's word that it was in good working condition (I was skeptical after I found out how old it was), I moved it with friends, did all the woodwork, and got the electrical work done. To move it I rented a truck, 6x12 trailer, and two furniture dollies. Bribed 3 buddies with beers and pizza. All told - under two hours and $200 including said beer and pizza.
Because of the wood framing condition, didn't fill it up right away because I didn't think it was structurally sound. Nearly two months after the purchase and structural/cosmetic makeover, we finally filled it with water, turned on the breaker, and hit the buttons...
WHA-BAMMM!!! The therapy jets are solid. The whirlpool jet is pretty much volcanic. Nice layout too - I like the lounger with foot jet. The air jets button was quickly renamed the "Bellagio Button" after the Vegas hotel's renowned water show. Serious air jets make you feel like you're in a boiling kettle. And it heated at the 6 degrees/hour stated in the manual. The Cameo was hot and ready just in time for our Superbowl party. As I luxuriated in my Cameo for the first time two days ago (2/6/05), I was in a state of awe that such an old and inexpensive (so far!) hot tub could look so good and work so well.
Now for the downside - which seems relatively minor considering I got a large working spa for 1/10th the price of a new one...
There are several things that need to be fixed -
1) Two minor leaks in the equipment bay.
2) Slow leak that comes out from under the spa which starts when the air jets are turned on. I've heard the mysterious plumbing leak in a fully insulated spa can be a major pain in the arse. I've heard Sundance had a dark period of production due to 'bad glue'. I sure hope 1989 models aren't a part of that.
3) The circuit breaker tripped twice on the first day. Maybe there's a short somewhere in the spa controls/equipment. Don't know if that's normal.
4) The timer ("time clock") is apparently not working.
5) The spa light is out. Just an excuse to get one of those phat color multi-mode LED jobs.
Then there's the unknown. Who knows what will break, how soon, and how much it will cost or how long it will take to fix it. But things are looking pretty good so far...