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Old 09-02-2006, 08:35 PM   #1
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1983 31' Airstream310
Iowa City , Iowa
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Expert opinion on 310 for sale...

My husband is retiring soon and has a very serious case of aluminitis!! What is frustrating is that most of the pictures in the ads hide damage and condition is often inflated. I know...caveat emptor, but what did some of you folks do to get a decent moho classic at a fair price. Or did you????

We just got back from a 2 day trip to look at a 290 for $21.5k that was described as good condition and "ready to go". That was getting to the top of our budget. Alas, it was a disappointment. There was a breech in the skin that caused a leak. The engine was in poor shape (very weak power) and the ride was as my husband said, "like a lumber truck". This was our second trip to see a unit that wasn't worth the repairs at the price. Someone here said that you'll look at a dozen before you find some you like. That is a daunting idea.

We just came across this one on eBay. We can't figure out why the buy it now price is so low. Is it even worth messing with? What would you adk about it? We would like to hear some opinions.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Class...QQcmdZViewItem
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Old 09-02-2006, 08:44 PM   #2
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Auretrvr, welcome to the forums! I actually saw that on eBay today too. The buyitnow price is actually almost twice what they owe...so. Without seeing it who really knows. With a rebuild on the motor it may be a very good buy. I like the single axle versions vs. the tag axles as they are much easier to turn around in tighter areas.
The photos look nice.
Gas is bringing prices down on older rv's so it's a buyers market.
I'd offer to go look at it for you but I'm off to Charlotte tomorrow and have a five week series of shows that will not take me that direction.
Keep your eye on it and see where the bidding goes. You might steal it cheap...especially knowing what they have for a payoff.
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Old 09-02-2006, 08:55 PM   #3
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It looks like a good buy, depending on how nice or how far up you want to bring the condition. 310's rarely go for such low money, even needing the assorted things this one does. With what looks to be no major damage, just a lot of smaller things to be done. But until you get there, who knows about all the things that are not seen. With a close up look it could go either way.
I personally could buy that unit, spend a bunch of sweat and hours on it and make it look a whole lot better. That is if it runs out well and all systems are go.
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Old 09-02-2006, 08:58 PM   #4
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If your husband can do a lot of the work, and you can assist in the details, or you can spend a lot of cash on it to have it done, you might go for it. I am in GA too but too far to look at this one for you. There is a member with motorhome experience near there, maybe they can.
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Old 09-02-2006, 11:58 PM   #5
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Louisville , Kentucky
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Auretrvr,
It is true that you have to kiss a lot of frogs when you're looking for a Classic Airstream Motorhome. The fact is, there weren't that many made (as compared to trailers) and with all of the additional systems included in a motorhome of this age they all tend to need work.

A few "general rules":

1. Shorter motorhomes go for more money as fewer are available and they tend to be more popular than the longer floorplans (specifically 325s and 345s which both have tag axles).
2. Rear bedroom units in shorter floorplans (310s) tend to be the most desirable combination of length and layout and therefore the most expensive.
3. Larger units like the 345 are more "available" and therefore less expensive.
4. Later model units will likely have less wear and tear than older units
5. Scratches, dents, repairs, mechanical issue are to be expected in any motorhome of this age. You need to plan for this in your inspection and in your budget.
6. Honestly, 21K for a quality motorhome like a Classic is not a lot of money when you compare it to the price of a cheapo mid 90s Class C with absolutely no "curb appeal"
7. Mechanicals and systems can be (relatively) easily repaired or replaced but body damage, especially in the corners and caps, can be very expensive to repair. Looks for good shells and complete working units...then work up from there.
8. Prices tend to be coming down given the glut of motorhome sales and rising gas prices. I expect the recent reduction in pump prices to drive up confidence and moho purchase again so keep that in mind.
9. Dealers are often more negotiable than private sellers as they have a more "business (read realistic) perspective" about unit value. Many times they will take a trade on a Classic for very little actual cash to get an upgrade to a six figure coach. They also don't like old inventory so prices can be very negotiable. Private sellers often know the market value is beyond the book value (from sites like this one) and can ask "demand value" for their coach - especially nice ones.
10. There are deals out there to be had. In the last year I've seen a 96 360 go for 15K a 79 Argosy go for $1500 and a very nice 280 go for under 20K.
11. (bonus)....like the old real estate saying, but a little different; Condition, Condition, Condition. While many systems and mechanicals are available and repairable, especially if you're handy, the overall condition and maintenance history of the coach will utlimately dictate the price. Compare this to what you really want. If price is an issue but sweat equity is a possibility then don't be afraid of the fixer uppers, but if all you want to do is travel and don't know which end of the screwdriver is up then pay more for a complete unit, with solid maintenance and newer (already replaced) systems. I've seen workable 345s go for $10K and perfect ones go for $45K. Condition is everything.

Basically, you need to keep looking. I looked at many units before I found "the one". Granted I was seeking a basket case in a good shell. But, after looking at more than a few (one as far a 1000 miles from my home) I knew the right one as soon as I saw it. Make sure you qualify sellers with lots and lots of pictures and as much disclosure as possible. Skins can be repaired...but I agree than a unit with major body damage and a bad engine is not something that should be in the 20K plus range.

Good luck with your search. Make sure you hit the classifieds section on this site as well as www.airstreammotorhomes.com and www.rvtraderonline.com in addition to eBay as resources for units up for sale.
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Old 09-03-2006, 07:44 AM   #6
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Of the squawks mentioned I'd bet the wiper problem is electical. As may be the a/c problem with the blower motor. Dents are "beauty marks" on these units.
The engine and Banks add on are worth the asking price.
If I where looking I'd be in deep discussion with the owner over the phone or email.
Take a look at the photos again. Shot of the rear bed setup leads me to think water coming off the driver side rear window...take a look. This isn't a deal buster but a place to check floor and general area around it.
Richmond Hill is just south of Savanah GA, so easy to fly in to. Got Frequent Flyer Miles?? BTW already one offer made... try a low ball and see what happens.
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Old 09-03-2006, 09:48 AM   #7
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1983 31' Airstream310
Iowa City , Iowa
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On closer inspection...

I think this unit has a serious crease all along the curbside at the top. The center awning support is missing and there is a section that looks as if the skin may be torn. I can sure understand how the ubiquitous top end corner dents happen, but this damage must have been amazing to trail all along the side!
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