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Old 02-16-2005, 09:47 PM   #1
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Are Airstreams that much better - 2005 Classic?

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
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Old 02-16-2005, 09:53 PM   #2
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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
Scott, they are that much better. My Argosy is 32 years old, and many Airstreams are in their fourth and fifth decade of use, you just can't get that in any other brand. These trailers are aluminum skinned, aluminum supported in the walls, instead of the 1x2 wood you will find in any other brand.
I could go on and on about how much better they are, and why, but I am sure others will want to, so I will give them the chance.
Airstreams do have problems, but they are usually annoyances rather than full-fledged disasters.
Terry
PS. If you want to talk to a bunch of Airstreamers about their coaches, and maybe get a deal on a new or used one, come down to the Florida State Rally in Sarasota next weekend, it is just a hop, skip, and jump over the Skyway bridge for you. Bates RV will most likely have a slew of them on display for sale, so bring your checkbook.
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Old 02-16-2005, 10:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hopkin
We tend to keep things until the wheels fall off, which is why I want to buy the right trailer the first time.
Scott,

That's a very good reason to consider an Airstream. There's a fellow here in our snowbird resort with a 1 year old Brand X 5th wheel. He says the unit is falling apart on him ... cabinets falling off the walls, etc. He's not a happy camper.

Airstreams are not perfect ... but when it comes to fit and finish, reasonable weight, towability, wow factor ... and resale value ... I believe they are a superior product.

Best of luck with your decision ... only you know what is right for you.
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Old 02-16-2005, 10:06 PM   #4
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Scott, you hit the nails right on the head. (1) Airstreams are no match for SOBs (Some Other Brands) if your purchase decision is based on price per square foot. Other manufacturers make their RVs cheaper. That's a clue right there.

(2) If you plan to keep your RV "till the wheels come off" , you might be disappointed with an Airstream. Mine have been on the road for 36 and 28 years respectively, and the wheels haven't come off yet! The darned thing might outlive you!

Hope to see you smiling in an Airstream soon,
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Old 02-16-2005, 10:30 PM   #5
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There are many considerations, but the first is how you want to use the coach. While there are many Airstream full-timers, there is no question that motor homes and large fifth wheels are more popular with those who live all or a major part of the year in their RV. You hit on a couple of reasons: size and storage space.

There are some very, very good fivers out there now, but they too are very, very expensive. And very, very heavy - to the point where a medium duty truck is required. I don't believe even the largest, heaviest Airstream requires more than a 3/4 ton truck, van, or suv (your choice).

I think where an Airstream really stands out is traveling lots and lots of miles, seeing the country, year in and year out. There is probably no other brand that can do this sort of thing, not just for years, but for DECADES, like an Airstream. There are Airstreams on the road that went literally 'round the world on caravans 40 years ago or more, and yet are in service today.

But none of this will do you any good if it doesn't hold/carry/store what you want or provide the living space you need.

Good luck,

Mark
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Old 02-16-2005, 10:38 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Scott Hopkin
We tend to keep things until the wheels fall off, which is why I want to buy the right trailer the first time.

Scott Hopkins
Scott,
If you get an Airstream. Let me know if you outlive it. That would be one of the few.
My brother-in-law has inherited my dad's 1973 31 footer. My dad bought it new in Nov. 1972. It has required maintenance but it still runs down the road. Usually in front of me pulling my 1977 Argosy.
My brother and I restored a 1963 back in 1982. We sold it back awhile ago. You will not believe what was on Ebay last September! That little Airstream was! It sold for over $5,000! It was worth it too.
Have you visited the Airstream website? They used to have information on how they are built. I am not sure if they still do.
I am sure that you will get a lot of replies about construction and what-not on here. The forums here are VERY active.
If you do get a silver twinkee, silver bullet, silver egg, etc... you will have a lot of friendship and support on here!
Good luck and God bless!
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Old 02-16-2005, 10:46 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by argosy20
My Argosy is 32 years old, and many Airstreams are in their fourth and fifth decade of use, you just can't get that in any other brand.
To give you an idea...
Sunline just celebrated their 40th Anniversary last year.
They had a contest to find the oldest Sunline still in use. Guess how many 40 year old Sunlines they found. One!
This was posted on their website last year. I got a chuckle out of it. They found ONE WHOLE TRAILER that was 40 years old. Go to any given Airstream rally and I am sure you will find a dozen of them that age and older!
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Old 02-17-2005, 02:40 AM   #8
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Cool Why buy an Airstream?

Scott,

We do not own an Airstream (yet) but we have been researching RV's for the past two years. We started out looking at Airstreams, and we have looked at everything from there to $250k diesel pushers. We could not find the level of workmanship, the solidity of design, the retention of resale value, the lack of obsolescence, and the "cool" factor that the Airstream has anywhere else. We are probably a few days away from ordering a 2005 28' International CCD. Yes it has less storage than SOB's, but do you need all that storage? I am not sure, but I think buying an Airstream is about realizing that taking more stuff along does not always matter. It is about the experience! We are about to find out, how about you?

Tim & Randi
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Old 02-17-2005, 03:28 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redeagle313
Scott,

We do not own an Airstream (yet) but we have been researching RV's for the past two years. We started out looking at Airstreams, and we have looked at everything from there to $250k diesel pushers. We could not find the level of workmanship, the solidity of design, the retention of resale value, the lack of obsolescence, and the "cool" factor that the Airstream has anywhere else. We are probably a few days away from ordering a 2005 28' International CCD. Yes it has less storage than SOB's, but do you need all that storage? I am not sure, but I think buying an Airstream is about realizing that taking more stuff along does not always matter. It is about the experience! We are about to find out, how about you?

Tim & Randi
We are newbies to trailering and AS's! We took posession of a 22' ccd April 4, 2004 and traveled extensively, enjoying every minute! We loved the interior styling and quickly decided we needed more room for longer trips! We took possession of a 28' ccd today! We are very excited about our purchase....and plan on traveling extensively! We are Happy Campers!!

Jim & Cheryl
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Old 02-17-2005, 05:41 AM   #10
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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
Scott -

As you can surmise from these responses, there are some very passionate Airstream owners in this community. However, not all of us are totally objective, IMO, and many of us have significantly different perceptions about what constitutes value and quality (as is normal).

You say you have heard nothing but good things about Airstreams...well, there are a number of us who purchased Airstreams within the past several years that are way less than 100% satisfied with their Airstreams, including the product, as well as the dealer and the company service after the sale. A lot of the people who have glowing things to say about Airstreams, and rightfully so, own models that were built in an era when the quality of manufacture was superior to today (again, based on my observations).

The quality of Airstreams manufactured within the past several years have been inconsistent. One owner will tell you he is 100% satisfied with his unit, while the next one should never have left the factory (I happened to have purchased one of the latter). I was at the Tampa RV show last month and saw a new 2005 Classic model, for example, that was so poorly built that both Airstream and Bates should have been ashamed to have had it on display.

(So, "your mileage may vary...")

Why are Airstreams so expensive? It is a combination of factors. One, it costs a lot more to build the aluminum outside shell of an Airstream than it would cost to build a rectangular shaped box of the same size. All of that bending, forming and riveting comes with a cost. On the other hand, it probably adds structural strength and integrity (I'm not an engineer and don't have the proof for this belief though). Some of Airstream's component parts, inside and out, are also more costly than what other manufacturers use -- however, you can also buy a 5th wheel with similar components and pay twice what any Airstream costs - it all depends on what you want and can afford to spend.

Another reason that Airstreams cost as much as they do, in part, is because they are a hot product just now. Look at today's TV programs and advertisers - many of them show Airstreams. Let's face it, they are a beautiful product that appeals to many potential consumers. Airstream is fully pricing their product to take advantage of this demand.

You can buy a Sunline 5th wheel, for example, for 1/2 - 1/3 the cost of an Airstream. Many of the component parts in the Sunline are less costly than those used in some Airstream models (formica counter tops versus Corian for example). Typically, Sunlines have a much better overall "fit and finish" in the manufacturing process than Airstream, if that's important to you. You will have more storage space in the Sunline, and could be more comfortable, in some respects, living in it. (I've owned 2 Sunlines -- the couch, chairs, dinette, and shower in them, for example, were far more comfortable than those in my new Airstream.) On the other hand, there are many things about the Airstream that are much better than the Sunlines - I love the Moen filtering faucet, the windows and the window shades, in my Airstream, for example, but they are also more expensive components than what Sunline uses. I also get 10-20% better gas mileage towing my Airstream even though it weighs 50% more.

While it is probably true that some parts of an Airstream will outlive those of other brands - Airstream's aluminum roof should last a lot longer than the 10-12 year life expectancy that we get here in PA on rubber roofs, for example, and rubber roofs in the Fl sun probably won't even last that long. Other Airstream components, however, won't last any longer - the furnace, air conditioner, refrigerator, tires and water heater and are identical to those used by many other manufacturers.

In the final analysis, I think you have to make your own decision. There are lots of trade-offs, plus and minus. For myself personally, would I buy another Airstream? You betcha! I just love their design.

John
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Old 02-17-2005, 05:57 AM   #11
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In response to a part of flyfshr's post, thae exterior design of an Airstream, as well as the aluminum framework holding it rigid, helps make them very strong. There was a small Airstream on our favorite online auction site a while back that had rolled over, and was still more or less structurally intact, with the exception of some windows and such. Try rolling over another brand of trailer, and you will most likely have a pile of kindling littering the Interstate.

Airstreams are currently being churned out as fast as the factory can throw them together, there is that much demand for them. I would personally prefer to see them make 5-10% fewer per year, and have better quality control. Most owners of newer Airstreams would agree with me, but Corporate America being what it is, I don't think it will happen.
Terry
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Old 02-17-2005, 02:54 PM   #12
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Last year I upgraded to an Airstream 22' CCD. My previous trailer was a 22' Jayco KIWI.
Things to consider:
While, AS is not perfect, it's a lot more solid trailer. The hard aluminum shell is built to last. I doubt that KIWI will be around in 10-15 years.
Maintenance on the structure is less, and I feel that more of the components are better quality and will hold up alot longer. Some examples: 1)The Zip-Dee awning and it's aluminum cover don't require me to scrub mildew off. The KIWI's awning soaked up water even when it was rolled up dry! 2) My Moen faucets beat those plastic ones on the KIWI. 3) No rubber roofs to worry about. 4) Cheap wooden framing, stapled together started to loosen.

That Jayco depreciated 50% in a year and a half! I wanted a trailer that would be worth something a few years out in case I wanted to move up. Ask some Airstreamers that have sold an AS after 1-5 years and see what % of their original purchase price they got. Then ask a SOB owner the same thing. Resale of the AS is alot better I'm sure.
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Old 02-17-2005, 08:24 PM   #13
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We love our Classic Airstream even with the foibles that comes with mass production quality control. Should we have to buy another travel trailer it will be an Airstream. One question. If Airstreams are so great and durable and we love them so much, why don't we see more of them on the road while taking trips. We can tow our unit on a major interstate for 1000 miles and never see another Airstream while spotting hundreds of SOB's.
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Old 02-17-2005, 08:36 PM   #14
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If Airstreams are so great and durable and we love them so much, why don't we see more of them on the road while taking trips. We can tow our unit on a major interstate for 1000 miles and never see another Airstream while spotting hundreds of SOB's.
I once heard, but have now forgotten how many RVs are sold each year. Seems like it is something just over one million - popups to Prevosts. Airstream builds about 900 trailers a year.

For a more realistic picture, go to www.rvtadersonline.com and do a search for trailers for sale built between, say 1960 and 1980. Last time I did that over 1/3 were Airstreams or Argosys.

Mark
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