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Old 10-23-2012, 07:50 PM   #1
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Future Classic MHs being built today?

In the 70s and 80s, we had Argosy/Airstream, Blue Bird, and GMC units being built. Those units were unique, very well built, and are still sought after today.

I have a real problem with today's motorhomes. None of them are unique and certainly none of them are well built. The only ones possibly one the future classic list might be Prevost motorhomes but somehow I don't think a 40' 70,000 pound monster is going to be a "classic". I just don't see anyone building a high quality coach.

Any thoughts on what coaches being built today will be tomorrow's classics?
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Old 10-24-2012, 01:31 AM   #2
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The vehicles that I've watched achieve collectible status in my lifetime seemed to possess a few common denominators; stand-out style, exceptional performance (not necessarily speed alone), and novel or break through engineering being among them. Achieving higher performance of any type usually equates to a reduction of amenities or higher price. Either of these translate to lower demand, yielding lower production volume, which equals rarity.

A Prevost coach probably fits much of this description, but given the extraordinary costs of their purchase, maintenance, and operation, I doubt that many of us will ever be members of the "Prevost Collectors Club". I think its more likely that these coaches will be supported by people who want to drive them down to Newport, Rhode Island where they're docking their restored Twelve Meter Yacht for the season. When we get to the point that Diesel is selling for $20, $30, $40 per gallon it will be quite a novelty to see a Prevost rolling down the road. That may be some time from now, but remember when gasoline was twenty cents a gallon?

It's also possible that their operating costs could render them obsolete as road going machines, and most of them would be permanently parked as static homes. Then, a hundred years from now, our grandchildren might discover them overgrown by trees and forgotten in back yards, and set about restoring them. By that time, someone will have figured out how to produce diesel oil from chicken crap, and it will be back down to seventeen cents a gallon at the local Perdue Filling Station.

Or maybe the time will come when all of the standards that have ensured "collectible status" thus far will be turned upside down.

Given today's reality of mass manufactured "throwaway" products, perhaps it will be these virtually disposable items that will become tomorrow's treasures, based solely upon the most unlikely possibility that they could have lasted more than a few years. Could that cheesy white fiberglass rig (that none of us want to be caught dead in) be destined for collector status?
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Old 10-24-2012, 01:50 AM   #3
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Any thoughts on what coaches being built today will be tomorrow's classics?
Some Class C units like Born Free are well made and will remain popular. Quality, as we know from Airstream floor experience, is hard to judge.

I feel that slideout issues will kill many of the motorhomes built today. It is very very hard to build a long lasting, leak free slideout and we know what water intrusion does to RV's.

I had a GMC motorhome for a few years, but the problems of reliability for any rig that old killed it for me. Too hard to keep up, and always had something wrong when I was on a trip. I like the power separated from the coach, as in a TV and trailer. I keep the trailer, trade in the TV when technology advances. Trailer technology has not changed much, still a bath, kitchen, bedroom and wheels and brakes. But engine and transmissions, safety equipment and all of that have made major strides since the '70s.
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Old 10-24-2012, 06:45 AM   #4
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And with THOR being the owner of Airstream at the moment, I doubt that we'll ever see Airstream producing motorhomes again. THOR produces several lines of RV's, many of them motorhomes. Why would they spend the $ on an Airstream motorhome when they are selling the SOB motorhomes already.
Let's face it, when Airstream produced the Classic motorhome, they were produced in realitively small numbers. High initial purchase price (relative to the year it was manufactured) kept the Classis production down.
"IF" there are more Classic motorhomes produced, I'd be happy to be one of the first on the waiting list......
Just my .02.
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Old 10-24-2012, 08:58 AM   #5
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Achieving higher performance of any type usually equates to a reduction of amenities or higher price. Either of these translate to lower demand, yielding lower production volume, which equals rarity.
And yet the Airstream Interstate outsells the Winnebago ERA, Roadtrek Adventurous, Great West Legend, and Pleasureway Plateau, all of which are based on identical Mercedes Benz Sprinter 3500 chassis. This despite the fact that the Airstream Interstate has a list price about 20~25% higher than the others. It's clear that in the Class B market, at least, people are willing to pay more for higher quality.

In the Class A market, the problem is that the higher-quality offerings also tend to be more ostentatious, with more flash and glitter, and less timeless elegance. Class A designers apparently have yet to learn the old adages "Form follows function," and "Less is more."

True classics weren't designed to be all things to all people; they were designed to fill a specific niche, and they filled that niche well enough to endure while other offerings came and went. Modern Class A motorhomes are still in search of their niche.
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:01 AM   #6
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I'm waiting for the Interstates to depreciate a bit, then I'm trading in the 310.
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Old 10-24-2012, 12:07 PM   #7
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Another great classic is the Barthmobile...
Airstream initiated a study(well, that was a rumor I never verified) about a limited re-issue of the classics, but the cost was deemed unrealistic. My 89 had a sticker price of $157 K...can't imagine todays translation...
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Old 10-24-2012, 04:19 PM   #8
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About $300k, give or take. But the problem of quality, then and now, is much more than asking price.

Some of the motorhomes (above) are so far above the A/S coaches as to render that comparison meaningless.

As to what people will pay for, well . . . ?

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Old 10-25-2012, 11:48 AM   #9
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I agree Fred with your review of the lack of desirable motorhomes available today. The problem seems to be the quality being produced, the asking price, the lack of confidence that parts will be available for an extended period, and the lack of practical usability of the units being pushed out today.

Usually for those that buy new, longevity is not in question, as most owners that can afford new units, plan on recycling every 5 years or so.

"Any thoughts on what coaches being built today will be tomorrow's classics?[/QUOTE]

Somethings I would suggest, for those that might want to buy a new motorhome, would be to look for OEM suppliers that will support your need for parts for years to come.
Buy a unit with a HD Chassis that is supplied by a proven OEM. Do not buy a light chassis that will have a maxed out GVW every time you use it.

Same goes for the engine, and my preference is Cummins for world wide service.

The body framework must be aluminium or stainless. (your price point?)

Stay away from welded steel construction. OEM's will sell the strength advantages of steel construction, but after a few years of trapped moisture within the body cavity, there will be no strength left from the rust dust remaining.

"The only ones possibly on the future classic list might be Prevost motorhomes but somehow I don't think a 40' 70,000 pound monster is going to be a "classic"."

Prevost make a nice OEM structure, that should be reliable for years to come, but the question mark falls on the few remaining qualified motorhome body suppliers that must install the quality basics before that glitz finish is installed.
If you are going for the Prevost, go for the 45' over a shorter model, as you loose basement with the 3rd axle, and you will need the storage. (you have lots of NCC on these units and you will carry everything you ever wanted and still get the same mileage because you have the chassis/drive train built to do it.)

Dave





[QUOTE=1985air345;1219407]In the 70s and 80s, we had Argosy/Airstream, Blue Bird, and GMC units being built. Those units were unique, very well built, and are still sought after today.

I have a real problem with today's motorhomes. None of them are unique and certainly none of them are well built. The only ones possibly one the future classic list might be Prevost motorhomes but somehow I don't think a 40' 70,000 pound monster is going to be a "classic". I just don't see anyone building a high quality coach.
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Old 10-25-2012, 12:05 PM   #10
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Could that cheesy white fiberglass rig (that none of us want to be caught dead in) be destined for collector status?[/QUOTE]

I generally agree with you but I have some problem with this statement stream.

I would never buy an Airstream Tin Can as they are presently manufactured, but I respect your decision to own one if you so desire.

If you want to freeze in the cold, sweat in the hot, wipe down the drips in the humidity, have no storage capacity while traveling, own a light duty chassis that cannot even be stored without additional support, then that is your decision.

Just don't belittle other Airstream product owners that have seen the light.

Dave



Quote:
Originally Posted by streamquest View Post
The vehicles that I've watched achieve collectible status in my lifetime seemed to possess a few common denominators; stand-out style, exceptional performance (not necessarily speed alone), and novel or break through engineering being among them. Achieving higher performance of any type usually equates to a reduction of amenities or higher price. Either of these translate to lower demand, yielding lower production volume, which equals rarity.

A Prevost coach probably fits much of this description, but given the extraordinary costs of their purchase, maintenance, and operation, I doubt that many of us will ever be members of the "Prevost Collectors Club". I think its more likely that these coaches will be supported by people who want to drive them down to Newport, Rhode Island where they're docking their restored Twelve Meter Yacht for the season. When we get to the point that Diesel is selling for $20, $30, $40 per gallon it will be quite a novelty to see a Prevost rolling down the road. That may be some time from now, but remember when gasoline was twenty cents a gallon?

It's also possible that their operating costs could render them obsolete as road going machines, and most of them would be permanently parked as static homes. Then, a hundred years from now, our grandchildren might discover them overgrown by trees and forgotten in back yards, and set about restoring them. By that time, someone will have figured out how to produce diesel oil from chicken crap, and it will be back down to seventeen cents a gallon at the local Perdue Filling Station.

Or maybe the time will come when all of the standards that have ensured "collectible status" thus far will be turned upside down.

Given today's reality of mass manufactured "throwaway" products, perhaps it will be these virtually disposable items that will become tomorrow's treasures, based solely upon the most unlikely possibility that they could have lasted more than a few years. Could that cheesy white fiberglass rig (that none of us want to be caught dead in) be destined for collector status?
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Old 10-25-2012, 12:06 PM   #11
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:22 AM   #12
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I generally agree with you but I have some problem with this statement stream.

I would never buy an Airstream Tin Can as they are presently manufactured, but I respect your decision to own one if you so desire.

If you want to freeze in the cold, sweat in the hot, wipe down the drips in the humidity, have no storage capacity while traveling, own a light duty chassis that cannot even be stored without additional support, then that is your decision.

Just don't belittle other Airstream product owners that have seen the light.

Dave
Hi Dave,

I don't really care if anyone agrees with my thoughts or opinions. We all have opinions. Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we don't. What absolutely kills me though, is to be misunderstood, and I think you've misinterpreted my comments. The last thing I am is some kind of "Aluminum-Snob", and it is absolutely not my intention to take a cheap shot at anyone for any reason, least of all for the car, bike or motorhome that they drive.

This thread is a discussion about the qualities of a vehicle that might suggest it would one day become "a collectable". It is not a discussion of colors, or materials, or insulation value, or moisture control, or even necessarily the functionality, sensibility, practicality, or quality of its design or execution.

Prevost's flagship coach is sided with reinforced fiber panels, not aluminum, but that's not what makes it great.

'54 Corvettes are fiberglass, not aluminum. It is not the material itself, but rather the novelty of its very usage that set it apart.

The old Dodge Travco Coaches are fiberglass bodied (molded in two halves and glued together straight down the centerline). Butt ugly, but great concept. I love those things.

The greatest high performance cars of our time are being made of carbon composites. Glass fiber, kevlar fiber, and carbon fiber are all pretty similar conceptually. The collectibility of these cars will not about the specific materials, but rather about the evolution and application of technologies.

Some things achieve collectible status for the vision they represented in their time, and some for their sheer magnificence, while others attain it by virtue of their failure and absurdity. I can't think of too many examples that gain it through high production volume and mediocrity except maybe Henry Ford's first cars, but the machine itself of course paled in comparison to the glimpse of the future that it represented.

The first trailer that Hawley Bowlus built was pipe framed and skinned with canvas. If not for his interest in aviation (being the shop foreman at Ryan Aeronautics during the construction of the Spirit of St. Louis), who can say when someone else might have built the first aluminum skinned trailer?

If not for WWII, and the enormous surplus of aircraft aluminum and trained craftsmen that could work with it, who is to say what the future of the mobile home industry might have been?

This is the relevance of aluminum to Airstream, and don't think their marketing department doesn't know it, and struggle with it. The higher cost of the material itself, not to mention the complexity of assembly, has got to be killing them, but how can they let it go? The value of the material to Airstream is in its historical DNA. It is that connection to America's Modern History that in my opinion makes an aluminum Airstream a "Collectible Classic". The value of the Airstream brand is rooted more so in the past, than in the present.

Bowlus, Curtis Wright, Silver Streak, etc, etc, are all long gone, and Airstream is the last man standing, but who can say how much more expensive an aluminum Airstream Trailer can become before there will be no one left to buy it? Just like the Classic Motorhomes, it's eventually going to happen, and when it does, they will lose much of their value as a "collectible brand" unless they can find another way to vastly differentiate themselves from their competitors.

No hard feelings I hope.
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:43 AM   #13
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And I agree with everything you said here again!

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Old 10-26-2012, 09:48 AM   #14
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The vehicles that I've watched achieve collectible status in my lifetime seemed to possess a few common denominators; stand-out style, exceptional performance (not necessarily speed alone), and novel or break through engineering being among them.
I do agree with that list.

I certainly did not intend to start a debate about RVs made with aluminum vs. any other material. In fact, I strongly believe that Airstream should make a molded fiberglass unit to compete with Casita. Airstream has to be careful not to define their market niche as aluminum riveted RVs.

I just don't see any other units being made today that stand out.
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