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Old 02-17-2005, 09:13 PM   #15
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Are Airstreams that much better?

Greetings Scott!

Welcome to the Forums!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hopkin
We are going to buy a fifth wheel or travel trailer. Have heard nothing but good things about airstreams. I don't want to make the mistake of buying something because it looks good, only to find out that the quality is lacking. Airstreams are expensive and lack the space of many other models the same size. The question is; why are they so much better and so much more expensive? We tend to keep things until the wheels fall off, which is why I want to buy the right trailer the first time. Your opinions and experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Scott Hopkins
If you plan to "keep the coach until the wheels fall off", the Airstream is among a small group of RVs that have the potential of living up to that expectation. When I decided to purchase my first travel trailer after several tent campers, I listened to relatives who advised to buy new and purchased a Nomad Light Weight Special 19' in 1980 - - that coach virtually self-destructed in less than ten years. I was so disappointed in that coach that it was several years before I even considered another coach.

It was in 1995 when I decided to buy another travel trailer and I knew it would have to be an Airstream, but the model year was a question mark as I even considered a new Safari. It seemed almost destined to happen when my '64 Overlander found me through a blind advertisement in a "shopper" classified. About six months later, we discovered that it was the coach that I went on my first camping trip in 1964 (when I was five years old). In 1964 the Overlander's list price was in the vicinity of $6,600 (the coach is 26' 8"). Friends of my family speical ordered the coach new and kept it until the early 1980s when they retired from traveling - - I would hate to try to estimate the number of miles that it covered while they owned the coach - - it made at least one and usually two trips to South Dakota (from Illinois) each year along with numerous WBCCI caravans and rallys each year - - I know that during their ownership the coach visited all of the lower-48 states as well as much of Mexico and Canada (it has yet to make a trip to Alaska). When the original owners sold the coach in the early '80s, the sale price was $4,000 (only about $2,000 less than they had paid for the coach in '64). The coach changed hands twice before I purchased it in '95 when I paid nearly what the original owners had paid when they purchased the coach new in '64. Today, I wouldn't consider selling the coach for several times the original list price as it is a member of the family. I guess that you could say that the "wheels have been run off" on this coach as the next project is a new set of axles with the disc brake upgrade (probably in two to three years).

I have attached photos of my coach - - the one with the '75 Eldorado towcar was take about eighteen months ago - - the second was taken in 1966 when the coach's original owners were visiting my family's farm (I am the one leading the pony).

There are at least two or three members of the VAC who have heirloom coaches that have been in their families for two, or three generations.

Good luck with your research!

Kevin
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Old 02-17-2005, 09:28 PM   #16
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I can vouch for the longevity. Everyone in this picture except the girl far right and the boy far left and the little one in the stroller are dead. The one in the stroller is now 44 years old. The airstream to the right is my '59 Tradewind. I have no idea what happened to the one in the background.

Mark Doane is third from the left.
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Old 02-18-2005, 06:55 AM   #17
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You know there is just some magical feeling folks get when it comes to Airstreams. As a kid, we'd count them as we went down the road. At no time did I ever think I'd own one.

Years passed and we went to an RV show to "look". Saw some nice coaches. Having come from family trips with a '75 Lark (Travel Equiment Corp) and a 1982 Jayco, both comfortable well built trailers, I was fairly disappointed when I saw Jaycos and other boxy SOBs (Larks are long gone). They creaked and would flex just walking down the floorplan. True there were some better than others, but the overall feeling was that most felt cheap and not well built. At this point, I had remembered all the Airstreams we had seen and counted when we were on vacation as kids. I looked but didn't see an Airstream dealer at the RV show.....until I rounded the last corner. There they were for 2003! So we walked into a few of them and right out of the gate, there was a different feel. So we bought a 19' Bambi. Nice coach, but a bit small after a season of camping. Additionally, a lot of small QC issues. Traded up to a 25' Safari, and love this coach. Solid, easy to tow, lots of room, a few small QC issues, but from the look of the other brands we saw, I'd say far less.

Now that we got an upgraded tow vehicle, we're thinking of one last upgrade...to a 31 footer. May or may not do it, but I will tell you one thing, once you get it all shaken down, and get over the fact that you're gonna spend as much money as some folks paid for thier first house, it's a decision that I feel you won't regret. If I had to do it all over again, I'd still have bought an Airstream, but I would have had the right tow vehicle first, then got the coach I wanted in the first place.
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Old 03-13-2005, 11:15 AM   #18
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Hi Scott,

Like you, I am also trying to decide between an Airstream and 5th wheel to spend several months a year in. I also want (and am willing to pay for) a quality product. There is a lot of trailer junk out there for sale. I really feel sorry for people that buy that stuff thinking they are getting a deal. Airstreams were superior to anything I looked at early on in my search.

I finally realized, there are so many brands out there; I needed help narrowing the field down. From what I read, the RV Consumer Group was a reliable source of information. I figured the cost of joining is insignificant to the amount of money I will be spending.

I looked at a couple of the top 5th wheels based on the RVCG, and I was very impressed. The attention to detail and quality was obvious, and was comparable to that found in a fine home.

BUT, as already mentioned, they are almost twice as heavy as an Airstream, and not as aerodynamic. AND, they do not have that cool curved aluminum shell, which I really like. Lets face it, that beautiful shinny durable shell is what differentiates an Airstream from all others. And I think its the shell design, and lack of any "shell design" competition that keeps the price of an AS high. If Airstream paid as much attention to quality on their interior as I saw in brand x and y 5th wheels, then this decision would be simple.

I for one would like to know what you decide on.

Good Luck
Dale
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Old 03-13-2005, 11:39 AM   #19
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We recently went to an rv show that featured primarily used SOB rigs. It was a real eye opener. Trailers that were just a couple of years old were faling apart. Seals shot, siding coming loose, roofs leaking, and unspeakable interiors. Those "gently used" relatively new trailers wwere in worse shape than our 25 year old Trailer was BEFORE we fixed it up. I'm sooo glad we chose an Airstream.
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Old 03-15-2005, 10:14 AM   #20
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Results of research

We did the research, looked at everything out there and decided on an Airstream Classic 30. We bought a 2005 model complete with the new disc brakes and heavy duty axles. We pick it up on March 30. Why? Past experience with boats and motorcycles. We had a couple of boats before we finally broke down and bought a Boston Whaler. That was 16 years ago and I fully intend for my grandson to inherit the boat. Same with motorcycles, had several that became outdated before I broke down and bought a BMW. That was 18 years and 124,000 miles ago and I still have no intention of buying a new one. The reason we bought an Airstream is that we did not want to make the same mistakes we did with the boats and motorcycles. This time we just decided to start out with the best to begin with. Besides, it was the first thing my wife and I have ever bought in 36 years that we both loved and neither of us had to compromise. Oh yea, we ruled out 5th wheels early on for several reasons. They are just too heavy and cumbersome looking, not to mention that the styles change. They are nice, but Airstreams are engineered for the long haul and have 70 years of historical records to prove it. No, they are not as fancy, but I will take functional quality over stylish any day.

Good luck in your search.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky
Hi Scott,

Like you, I am also trying to decide between an Airstream and 5th wheel to spend several months a year in. I also want (and am willing to pay for) a quality product. There is a lot of trailer junk out there for sale. I really feel sorry for people that buy that stuff thinking they are getting a deal. Airstreams were superior to anything I looked at early on in my search.

I finally realized, there are so many brands out there; I needed help narrowing the field down. From what I read, the RV Consumer Group was a reliable source of information. I figured the cost of joining is insignificant to the amount of money I will be spending.

I looked at a couple of the top 5th wheels based on the RVCG, and I was very impressed. The attention to detail and quality was obvious, and was comparable to that found in a fine home.

BUT, as already mentioned, they are almost twice as heavy as an Airstream, and not as aerodynamic. AND, they do not have that cool curved aluminum shell, which I really like. Lets face it, that beautiful shinny durable shell is what differentiates an Airstream from all others. And I think its the shell design, and lack of any "shell design" competition that keeps the price of an AS high. If Airstream paid as much attention to quality on their interior as I saw in brand x and y 5th wheels, then this decision would be simple.

I for one would like to know what you decide on.

Good Luck
Dale
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Old 03-15-2005, 04:39 PM   #21
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Cool

Congratulations on your purchase! Enjoy!

We will probably get our new Airstream in the next couple weeks, it is being built this week.
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Old 03-15-2005, 05:02 PM   #22
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My first trailer was a 2002 Jayco KIWI 21C Hybrid (foldout canvas bunk ends). It was manufactured for me in August 2001. I unloaded it in January 2004 when I got my Airstream. It was starting to show its wear, even though I took good care of it. I expect it is practically worthless pricewise today and will be on the scrape heap in the next 10 years or so. I'm sure my CCD will be around for my chilren to enjoy after I've gone to the "Great Campground in the Sky" (an Airstream Park, I hope).
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Old 03-15-2005, 05:14 PM   #23
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Congrats, Scott!!! You picked the best floorplan ....but then I am more than a little biased. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

PS: I am jealous of the disk brakes.
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Old 03-15-2005, 05:42 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hopkin
... Same with motorcycles, had several that became outdated before I broke down and bought a BMW. That was 18 years and 124,000 miles ago and I still have no intention of buying a new one.
Scott ... when it comes to RVs and motorcycles ... we have a lot in common!

Here's a a shot of me and my very last motorcycle project. I sold it just a few days before taking off on our fulltime adventure.
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Old 10-15-2006, 10:47 AM   #25
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Scott,
i have had my 31' sovereign for only 3 weeks, i have had 4 people on the highway give a thumbs up and two people ask to look inside. this is a blast, it is exciting to see another one on the road. what a great experience, hope you join the group
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Old 07-10-2014, 09:32 AM   #26
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Back in the late 60's my wife and I bought a little Scotty (12 ft) camper trailer. We travelled and camped in it for a year, and decided we needed something a little bigger.

We found and bought a '63 Bambi. Wow, it had a fridge that made ice from water, instead of an ice box! We loved that little Airstream, but with a toddler, we needed a bit more space.

So, we bought a 23 ft Caravaner, I think it was called. Lots of room for a small trailer, and it had that Airstream quality we had grown to love. We used that little trailer right up into the '80s. Then we were seduced by the dark side and went to motorhomes.

I will admit that motorhomes are great when you have kids. However, we are now empty nesters. Last year I gave the 35 ft Southwind to my youngest daughter. When my wife asked "what are we going to do now?", I told her I was going to buy another Airstream.

We looked and looked. We drove all over the country, looking for just the right one. We started thinking a 23 footer would be the size, but soon found that 23 ft was WAY too small for us.

I finally found a 2002 31 ft Classic down in Springfield, MO that was perfect. It was easy to see that this unit had been loved and was in great shape.

So, after 30 some years with the dark side we are back! It feels SO good to be home again. I can attest to the fact that Airstreams are better. I can give you all kinds of examples to prove it.

However, the real advantage to owning an Airstream, is not the quality, or the better gas mileage, or the ease of towing. The real advantage of owning the world's most recognized trailer is Airstream People. You have "family" everywhere you go.

Good luck with your decision. All of us here would love to welcome a new Airstreamer to the family.
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Old 07-10-2014, 10:53 AM   #27
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Holy thread resurrection!

Nice story and welcome home!
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Old 07-10-2014, 11:52 AM   #28
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The original poster hasn't posted since 2006. I wonder if he still has an AS.
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