When was the last time you went car shopping? Have a fun time?
If you were buying new, odds are you had to pick through a whole pile of choices.
Amish buggy buyers have their fair shake of options to choose from too–everything from the upholstery to the lighting to the dash to the battery holder (a relatively new feature in Lancaster County has the battery mounted on the undercarriage of the buggy rather than inside, for safety in case of an accident).
You can order your buggy custom-made, or you can do as the young couple in the photo above is doing, and pick up a used ride at a sale.
Last year I took a friend’s son on a buggy buying trip to Weavertown Coach (you may know it; this is the shop off of Route 340, the main drag going through Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand, has a “Water for your Horse” sign outside).
He had a full checklist of options to choose from. Picking out the upholstery was a challenge. He wanted a purplish tone but knew Mom and Dad would appreciate a more conventional shade. I can’t remember what he went with. I think it was the purple.
One thing he didn’t have to worry about, though, was the exterior “paint job”.
That comes standard.
More on buggies:
Buggy Signs, Part 1
Buggy Signs, Part 2
Photo credit: Lisa G
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I would imagine, when buying a used one at least, a big concern would be sturdiness and if there is damage to the buggy that might cause a safety issue. What are the average prices of buggies, both new and used?
Alice it will depend on the community and style; Lancaster probably has about the most expensive or near the top. The tab for a new one is going to be around $7000-8000 depending on how “loaded” it is. Used buggies can vary, may be half that or much less depending on age, condition and style.
For instance simpler styles of buggies like those found in the Nebraska Amish or Swartzentruber settlements are going to be cheaper than say Lancaster County or Holmes County Old or New Order.
Wow, you just don’t think of them as being that expensive if you have never priced one. But then again, prices have gone up on everything today so why not buggies too? I guess when you think about it, its not much cheaper than a car by the time you get the horse to pull it, trained, fed and medical attention, etc. (That is of course thinking about the low end prices of cars and not the top models.)
Really when you think about it, I am sure the Amish way of life can be quite expensive. I have priced propane run appliances and such and they are much more expensive than standard electric ones.
Thanks for answering my question Erik!!
how many in a buggy?
I realize that while when a parent goes shopping, drs, errands, etc, not everyone needs to go along, how about on sunday going to church services, how do they get the entire family into that small buggy? Obviously, some children will have to sit on others laps at times, but when the family is really large, how do they fit everyone in?
Also, in a state that requires seat belts, why would anyone in a buggy be exempt? It seems to not be fair to folks in a motor vehicle to have to pay a fine when they’re caught without their seat belt on, but allow others to ride around continously without one. Just food for thought.
You know Alice, I agree with you, but if you think about it, the buggies are hand made not through a factory, and even with the price of horses at least you get something back in return for their food to help your garden grow to feed the family.lol you don’t get that with a truck or car. And yes the type of appliances they use are more expensive but then again you know how much your utility bill will be every month,at least the highest, if you use all the propane. Yes the prices on it goes up and down like gas for a truck or car. But,they don’t have electric,gas for vehical,and gas for stove too. I don’t know some times I really think they all have the right idea. The only thing is I can’t stand the heat so I would need a swamp cooler or A/C lol
Thanks for listening
God Bless, Robin
And then add in the cost of the “horsepower” and it could equal the price of a good used car! I love the Lancaster/Southern Maryland grey-topped buggies. Getting behind one, rear curtain pulled up and happy, beautiful little faces smiling and waving … so sweet!!
Almost all used buggies for sale are in top shape. The reason to sell a buggy is that either the family needs a larger buggy, which we call a surry, and or the buggy is no longer needed. It was hard for my parents to see their surry being auctioned off as it ment their children have grown and flown the nest. It was hard for me to see my Dad’s buggy being sold as it mend he will never use it again because of his age and his health.
In the conservative Indiana Amish I was with, it went this way: When a boy is old enough to run with the young folks, he gets a open top buggy. Dad usually pays for it, although the boy may have to make it in his spare time. The boy keeps this buggy, it is his even after marriage. After marriage, the buggy gets a top added on. This buggy rarely is sold, it becomes the wife’s primary vehicle. It will last about 20 years before it needs to be rebuilt due to rot, damage, and wear. When the family will no longer fit into the single seat buggy comfortably, a surry is built. Surry’s are heavy, so they are only used when necessary in the southern Indiana hills. The man may use a 2 wheel cart to get around as they are light and therefore faster. They also have a buggy roughly equivalent to the old west buckboard called the hack. It is used like a pickup truck. Extra seats are added for a open ride with guests when it does not rain. (you hope, plans sometimes go arry). With carts and hacks, you get wet if it rains, umbrellas don’t work too well, especially if you are alone(been there, done that).
Judging by our gas prices out here in Washington state, I’ve commented to my husband on more than one occasion that we’d be better off with a horse and buggy! We’d probably have the nicest yard with all that horsey fertilizer, and it’d be priceless to see the look on the gate guards’ faces if I took my husband to work on the Navy base in a buggy…LOL!
I have found Amish buggies fascinating and would like to learn more about Amish buggies. Could anyone offer some possible informative websites, and literature related to Amish buggies?
My goodness, where do the Amish get the money to afford all of these things? I realize they farm, have businesses, and alot of the young people have jobs outside the home, but do they really make that much?
Lance, you said the Dad usually pays for the boy’s first open top buggy when he’s old enough and that he gets to keep it even when he marries. What happens when there is 5 boys in the family? Does the Dad buy each one of them their first open top buggy when they come of age? If so, how does he afford it?
I guess I’ve always thought the way the Amish obtained most things ( land, homes, animals, buggies, etc.) was by inheriting or having it passed down to them, or by sharing, as in the case of multiple families living on the same property. I know some do make pretty decent money through thriving businesses, or working at certain jobs outside the community, but what happens to those who are not so well off financially? How would they afford a new buggy for their son(s)?
Hi Debbie, a great question.
We have to keep in mind that Amish generally have lower living expenses.
They wear uniform clothes which never go out of style and are passed down from one child to the next. They grow a lot of their own food, and the food the do buy is often purchased in bulk and at bent ‘n’ dent stores. They also probably have lower entertainment expenses when we eliminate trips to the movies, monthly internet charges, tickets to the game, etc. We can cut out car operating expenses as well.
Some of these are offset by other expenses (feeding the horse and others as mentioned in the comments above), but if we just look at how much we spend in these categories alone, I think it is pretty significant.
Also, children go to work after finishing school at age 14-15 and typically contribute money to the household until age 21. So that is a pretty big one too.
To whoever asked how many in a buggy 🙂 As many as you can fit!! Last Sunday that I was with the Amish we had 9 in a surrey (double buggy). Dad, Mom and 2 little ones in the front and 5 children (ages 9-17) in the back seat 🙂 It was full but it works!
As to the price Lancaster is a lot higher in price than here but I figure that is because they allow a lot more. Here on buggies normally come from IN so they could be more ‘fancy’ but a lot of things aren’t allowed. Extras here range from a shiney coat on the buggy, interior seating, tinted buggy windows, how many lights etc. My older “brother” is 21 and is an adult now as the Amish view it. He’ll get a buggy of his own and with the workings he chose it will be around $5000 for a new buggy and this is just 1 seat. But buggies last a lot longer than cars do or at least AMish don’t buy them as often as people seem to buy cars. This buggy will prob. last him until he’s married with 3 children, Lord Willing.
I enjoyed your picture and information on the Amish buying new buggies. I agree, it’s like us buying a new car. They are expensive at $5000 to $8000. I wouldn’t trade my car in for a buggy and horse, though.
Yes, 5 boys would mean 5 buggies. Until a child is 21 or married(rarely before 21), all of the child’s wages go to the parents. They get it back with the buggy and help starting their own household by helping with the down payment on the farm. Some parents put all of the children’s wages in an individual bank account for each child. The child gets the bank account at 21. All that hard work pays off in the end. The kids are not cheap, but they don’t lazy around either, they work.
Girls are no cheaper than boys. The bride’s parents pay for the wedding and help pay for the newlywed’s new homestead too.
Tom: Get a copy of the book “Plain Buggies” by Stephen Scott – very comprehensive.
Regarding prices, New Wilmington (PA) buggies, being less advanced (no dashboard, single seat) will go for around 3500 new at auction. I am betting this would be close for Geauga County OH as well for their similar version. Used prices are about one third of new, so quite a savings. New 2 seat open hacks in New Wilmington were around 1700 2 years ago.
Rick, Thank You for the suggested reading.
Tom I would second Rick’s recommendation. Plain Buggies is about the best book out there. Steve S. knows his buggies, and it’s nice in that it includes not only Amish buggies but Old Order Mennonite, Old Colony Mennonite, etc.
Rick, thanks for the info on buggy prices in your neck of the woods. These are definitely cheaper than the Lancaster models. Though there is not as much to a New Wilmington buggy as you pointed out.
Given gas prices and Peak Oil, I wonder when we’ll start seeing significant numbers of non-Amish folk using buggies… or has that already happened somewhere?
Not that I know of Stephen…I kind of think that with how much we love and rely on cars we’d figure out just about any other energy solution before taking a step back to buggies!
Buggy seat belts?
Loretta as to your question why aren’t buggies required to have seat belts…
I don’t really have an answer except to speculate that a) probably due to top speeds of buggies (10 maybe 15 mph with pedal to the metal) they are not really necessary from the standpoint of a buggy colliding with something (though if a buggy wheel say caught in a ditch and it rolled as can happen, I can see where it might help), and b) I’m not sure of this but I believe that in the event of a rear-end collision (the most common type of buggy accident) it actually may be safer to be thrown from the buggy rather than be strapped in and potentially crushed by a 2-ton vehicle. Though neither option sounds good.
I really enjoyed the picture of buggy shopping. It reminded
me of the Edgewood Buggy Shop on Springfield Road between
Arcola and Arthur, Illinois. The first time I drove by there,
I had to stop my car on the road and “gaze” a little bit. I thought
“this reminds me of a used car lot,” but really not at all, because
it was so neat and clean and the buggies and carriages were all neatly parked and displayed. I’m going to that area in May and am going to see if it’s still there. There are so many good Amish stores on Springfield Road and the sideroads directly off of it.
Thanks for the me odies everyone! My first buggy cost about $6,000. My first car was $18,000. Wow
Make that memories. I had my iPod set to Spanish. Lol.
How much does a buggy weigh?
I’m interested in knowing how much a buggy weighs. I’ve seen people pull them before, but I’m wondering if they are light enough that you could re-design one to be converted to some sort of pedal-powered rickshaw? If this is possible, would it be legal to ride one in a large city? If this is not possible, does anyone know how I could somehow build my own buggy “box”?
Also, does anyone know where the cheapest buggies are sold in the Ohio area? (Preferably ones that are still usable, nothing fancy)
Strange questions, I know 🙂
Where can i find a Wheelwright in amish country
I am looking to buy 3 buggy wheels for buggies that i am restoring. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada and will be travelling through PA after the 10th of March and would like to purchase these wheels so i can complete my restoration projects.. tks so much
We live in Washington State and have acquired an old order Amish buggy in disrepair. We are hoping to restore it starting with wheels. Is there a way to get wheels in this area that will be correct for this buggy?