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Old 03-11-2015, 09:54 PM   #1
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Missoula , Montana
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Best Year/Model Airstreams as a investment

We are new the Airstream world, and although not expecting to make a fortune with purchasing an Airstream, we are interested in gathering information to help us in selecting a model we can enjoy, and will fit our needs, and also has a good potential to maintain or increase in value.

Sorry, if we are being naive about all of this, but not only are we going to purchase and Airstream because we love them, but it seems to make sense to become informed about the collectable and investment side of them.

We are intending to use this on the ranch own in Montana, and travel with it around the states about half of the year. Right now we are leaning toward around a 20 foot model, and are open to owning both vintage models, or models up to about 2005.

Thank you for your insights, and looking forward to meeting some of you soon. Gary and Evelyn
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:16 PM   #2
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I think the best you can hope for is to get most of your money back. The days of Airstreams apreciating is long over. Just like cars they start depreciating as soon as you drive them off the lot.
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Old 03-11-2015, 11:00 PM   #3
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If you want a 20ft 'bus' you also are restricted to 1974-1977 (74-75 for rear bed, 76-77 for rear bath), or a van conversion (and my two cents is there are better SOB van conversions in your year range). If you go to a 24ft then your have many more options (in terms of models and years).

In general Airstream motorhomes are about the equivalent investment to owning a boat....and anyone who owns a boat knows it stands for 'break out another thousand'. The money you put in will never be seen again, so make sure you get that value of enjoyment out.
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Old 03-12-2015, 09:57 AM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
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Welcome to the Forums!

I see you posted this question in the RV and Motorhome section of the forums--just to confirm, are you looking at getting a trailer, or a motorhome?

As to value and collectability of Airstreams, the older they are, typically the rarer they become, and the more "collectable." That being said, a 60 year old wreck is still a wreck. The value is easily as much in the condition as in the age. The smaller trailers are also the more sought after.

If you buy anything that is "modern" (say 1980's or newer), the valuation will work like it does with automobiles, ie., they depreciate as they get older, and there is not much value placed on collectability.

So buy the trailer/motorhome that is right for you (size, features, condition, appearance, etc.), and don't sweat the "investment" value. It is a rare occasion when anyone actually profits when they sell their Airstream.

Good luck!
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Old 03-12-2015, 11:03 AM   #5
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What he said
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Old 03-12-2015, 11:15 AM   #6
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I think the only way to actually make a profit is to find an older (69 or earlier) trailer in as-found condition and polish/restore to your liking. When you are ready to move on you might make some $$. It worked for me with a 64 Bambi II. Smaller trailers seem to be the best investment.
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Old 03-12-2015, 11:53 AM   #7
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If you are interested in making money in the Airstream world nowadays then find someone who will pay you to work on their unit. Only a select few will sell for more than what they invest: typically, they are the folks who sell it immediately after restoration without the benefit of use :-)
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Old 03-12-2015, 11:54 AM   #8
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Thanks. Ive been someone who has enjoyed the hunt for something special, and great deals all my life, so seldom if every buy anything off a lot. Im just educating myself on the more collectable and desirable models, so I can have a decent idea of what is a real find and great deal. For example, I like the late 50's models. Any thought on what to look for in those. Im guessing that maybe the suspension, brakes can be expensive to work on...but I have a 47 dodge and lots of those things are easier to work on than the newer ones. What is the secondary market like for parts access ? ...or parts in general for those older models...AND.a really basic question about the mirror like finish on some..what is the process for that...lots of elbow grease ? or does it take a certian kind of exterior to start with ?

Another thing Im wondering about is what kind of impact renovations of interiors has on the collectable values. Im guessing that keeping them as close to original as possible is best?

Thanks.
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Old 03-12-2015, 11:56 AM   #9
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Thanks. Ill look for the section on Trailers, that is what we are looking for.

Ive been someone who has enjoyed the hunt for something special, and great deals all my life, so seldom if every buy anything off a lot. Im just educating myself on the more collectable and desirable models, so I can have a decent idea of what is a real find and great deal. For example, I like the late 50's models. Any thought on what to look for in those. Im guessing that maybe the suspension, brakes can be expensive to work on...but I have a 47 dodge and lots of those things are easier to work on than the newer ones. What is the secondary market like for parts access ? ...or parts in general for those older models...AND.a really basic question about the mirror like finish on some..what is the process for that...lots of elbow grease ? or does it take a certian kind of exterior to start with ?

Another thing Im wondering about is what kind of impact renovations of interiors has on the collectable values. Im guessing that keeping them as close to original as possible is best?

Thanks.
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Old 03-12-2015, 12:52 PM   #10
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There are the folks that place a "premium" on originality and would prefer to have a 50's trailer that looks just like it rolled out of the factory. Then there are those of us who prefer the modern conveniences, perhaps with a "retro" look or feel. At the end of the day, it all boils down to a matter of taste.

There are members on this forum who have rennovated or restored trailers from the 40's to present, so rest assured that anything is possible, it is just a matter of time and money. The folks who buy a 50's vintage trailer that has been parked in a field for the last 50 years for a song, completely rebuild it from the ground up, and immediately sell it might come out ahead comparing sales price to money invested, but if they put any dollar value on their time (and there will be a lot of time involved), then it is hard to imagine they do more than break even.

As for the mirror shine, the trailers that take the best shine were made of aircraft aluminum (2024 T3 Al-clad), and that sheet metal was phased out in the very early 1970's. That is not to say you can't put a mirror shine on a later 70's vintage trailer. Just realize getting and keeping a mirror shine on the newer trailers is not as achieveable as those with Alclad. Either way, it takes a lot of time and elbow grease.

good luck!
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Old 03-12-2015, 01:20 PM   #11
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RV's are not investments. RV's are for fun and lifestyle. No Airstream or any other RV will appreciate in value.
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Old 03-12-2015, 02:21 PM   #12
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1978 31' Sovereign
Hot Springs , Arkansas
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Find the size and floor plan you like best. Shop for one with your desired amenities. Call out in this forum for someone in the area to do an inspection on your find.
Buy it, hug it, and take it home.
I got my 78 31 Sovereign for a song. A couple of thousand dollars more into it, I will be at a point of diminishing returns. (As far as resale at fair market value) But mine is a keeper, so I can shovel money at it as long as I want to.
Find one that you like the best. You will at a minimum break even if you sell.
Welcome and I hope you find what you are looking for.
Clayton
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Old 03-12-2015, 02:42 PM   #13
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1978 31' Excella 500
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Poor Income Choice

I'm sorry to say, your better off with another Investment. We love our 1978 Excel 500 31' but it's not making us money to put in the Truck for Gas to pull it! We've dropped over $20k into it with maintenance and restoration cost's, in the last 3 years. We are glad to do it compared to purchasing a New One.

But getting our money back out of it. No way. (will do it again)

Enjoy your Rig and see the country!!!
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Old 03-12-2015, 03:58 PM   #14
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Yes, I have gotten rid of the scalloped cornice boards and many other things. My 1999 has been changed to be us. Do I think I can sell it for what we paid..actually think so. We live in it full-time so yes there are decorating and maintenance..just like a bricks and sticks.
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