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Old 01-25-2013, 04:33 PM   #1
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Choosing an Airstream or towable over a class A

Greetings

I went to the Tampa RV Supershow again this year. It was nice. I got into a long discussion with a Winnebago sales guy who shared with me why I should have purchased a Class A (bus type) instead of my Airstream. He shared the newest offering, the Vista 26 HE as a perfect example for my needs. At the time I was swayed by the external storage space, the livability (space ) inside and the ease of auto level, etc, etc.

Now that a few days have passed and I have pondered the benefits, I have come up with some of my own thoughts on Airstreams that negate or balance the equation. First, THE SPACE. The Vista has 115 cu ft. of external storage. I have 28 cu ft on my 25' twin AS. What I failed to consider at the time was that there is other external storage - the truck bed as it is covered and the rear seat area in the cab- yes all external storage too and easier to access. The bed is 46 cu ft and the rear seat area is around 34 cu ft. in the super crew for a total of 108 cu ft. of space. That certainly changes things. Additionally he shared that his 26HE class A got at best around 9 mpg. I get 12 mpg like many of you at 65 mph and can get better if I slow it down. The internal storage area was minimal- just a few cabinets. The kitchen was two small lockers, under the sink and a small cabinet they called a pantry. My one slide out drawer was about the size of the pantry. The same can be said of the bathroom and the bedroom. His final point was about the benefit of taking a better gas mileage car with me in tow to use when I got where I was going instead of using a truck. Hmm, 3-5 mpg less using the rig would seem to eat that benefit up never mind the maintenance on two vehicles. Then it hit me. All this class A stuff and talk about not having to hitch up and back up. If one has a "toad" you are still towing something that has to be hitched up and as most of you know, the reason there is no back up worries is because you cannot backup with a toad- really. Add to that the non serviceable aspects - no portable LP tanks. etc. and it is just more expense.

Ok, I shared. I am convinced more than ever that a trailer is the most cost effective option- especially if someone wants to "travel" and camp. The towable fifth wheel a second for space in a little to no moving scenario. Airstream has carefully used the interior space and I am sure that there are other benefits that I am unaware. The livability factor remains; however, aside from slide-outs there is nothing that any manufacturer can do but create open spaces in their product. What I believe that would be most beneficial is to design a space that is multi-purpose - dinette, desk, lounge area but one that can be stowed away rather than permanently placed - couch excluded. Airstream has that in particular models- roll away tables, flip up tables but not in seating (if such a thing can be done). The ease of towing is a major factor to consider too as Airstream beats a box with slides.

So, I went in hearing about what Airstream didn't have - storage, convenience and livability but have realized that differences are slight but that operating costs are quite different. Yes, the silver wagon is a good choice still- even in 2013.
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:14 PM   #2
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He was a good saleman but he didn't have much to sell.
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:53 PM   #3
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Who needs practicality, owning an Airstream is an emotional decision above all other reasons.
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Old 01-25-2013, 06:29 PM   #4
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As a friend of mine used to say, "That's why they make chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream". I agree with your choice that an AS is the way to go and am glad with the decision I made. But it is always nice to see the reasons articulated by someone else. Thanks. Great minds think alike!
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Old 01-25-2013, 07:08 PM   #5
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In a perfect world.....

.in which we all won the lottery, I would want a trailer, a motorhome, and a tiny teardrop. There are numerous threads in the forum on the pros and cons
of trailers vs motorhomes, and big vs small. My favorite line was " A trailer is always too big on the road, and too small at the campsite.
I think one of the main advantages of motorhomes is security while you are sleeping. I feel like a sitting duck in a trailer, because you can't make a quick get away. Another advantage is that your passengers can occupy themselves while you are on the move.
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Old 01-25-2013, 07:42 PM   #6
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We looked at all types of RV's. I wanted a tear drop trailer that opened up to a 40' wide slide 5th wheel. Or a class 'B' that opened up to a 40' diesel pusher. They don't make such things.

My favorite two options boiled down to this.

1. A new-ish 30' Classic towed by a F-250 diesel truck with an 8' bed and cap.

2. 37' 5th wheel with big slides towed by a dually.

New AirStream Classic prices almost gave me a heart attack. 82k

New 5th wheel prices did not. 50k

For now we will FT in the 5th wheel. But I will not rule out a future with an AS.

Things I like about an AS
1. It is cool

Things I do not like.
1. No storage outside
2. Not much storage inside
3. Not insulated well
4. Cost too much
5. Can't take hail
6. Shower is small
7. No slides
8. Kinda heavy

To me it is about even - they are COOL.
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Old 01-25-2013, 07:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
Who needs practicality, owning an Airstream is an emotional decision above all other reasons.
Agreed, but . . let someone show us the forty year-old motorhomes in regular use! Thirty? Twenty? Not so many on the road past around ten years for full-timers for the curve falls rapidly at that point. Not like a TT that can be -- owner willing -- a permanent acquisition.

My folks had their Silver Streak twenty-seven years . . and with but two tow vehicles in that time (also daily drivers).

Emotions play their part. And savvy thinking means doing just as much, but using less to do it. That ought to make anyone happy.

.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:00 PM   #8
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To me the big pluses are the windows and tasteful interiors. I'll take all the windows including the vista views in Airstreams any day of the week over the "crown molding" and other stuff in the motorhomes.

Light, bright and tasteful.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:12 PM   #9
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The key to owning anything over a longer time frame is MAINTENANCE. (even works with relationships ) If you are going to use any vehicle/RV occasionally and park it in the storage lot the rest of the time, without constant attention, you can't expect it to be in perfect shape after 10 years.

Unfortunately, many of those that buy high end RV's, are at the upper end of the age and driving curve. Often, after just a few short years, these units basically sit neglected for some time before they are sold.

The only advantage of buying a 25 year old trailer, verses, an Class A, is the huge advancement in power train technology that has made the older Class A units rather ancient in the power and efficiency categories. On the other hand, the older Class A's can still be worked on in the back yard, where the newer ones tell on you if you do that.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowmover View Post
Agreed, but . . let someone show us the forty year-old motorhomes in regular use! Thirty? Twenty? Not so many on the road past around ten years for full-timers for the curve falls rapidly at that point. Not like a TT that can be -- owner willing -- a permanent acquisition.

My folks had their Silver Streak twenty-seven years . . and with but two tow vehicles in that time (also daily drivers).

Emotions play their part. And savvy thinking means doing just as much, but using less to do it. That ought to make anyone happy.

.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:24 PM   #10
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New AirStream Classic prices almost gave me a heart attack. 82k
This is true; however, the model I was shown was on a promotion at $70K and said to be going to $87K in the near future. I can see the merit in a five-r in price and space in certain situations but I would not want to tow such a monster around the country touring. It just seems like they make sense when going one place for a while - a second home spot, etc., just not nomad-type traveling like the AS offers as an option.

With everything that I have learned on this forum- both positives and negatives, I still find that Airstreams are a great choice for traveling and camping. I heard so many speaking highly of the giant monster five-rs and the large Class A motorhomes but personally I could not afford to wheel one of those around the country and also pay for all the specialized maintenance. I heard negative comments while walking around looking at the new AS- either price or narrowness. I believe that people are not thinking it through with narrowness comments. After all it is about towing around more than a permanent home. People see those massive rigs then look at a camping trailer and make such comments. Airstreams today are mostly flat across the ceiling and so even the curve has little effect on interior height or loss of space. Price is another matter- again comparison of premium class to economy bargain class offerings. Coleman is not Airstream/ Airstream is not Coleman. Oh, another thing, my father is beginning to look for a rig. We looked at used Class A motorhomes. Something I noticed as a point of surprise was the depreciation - steep drop compared to a trailer or at least Airstream it seems.

Oh and you Airstream motor coach people, I still think of you as Airstream first and not necessarily the same as the SOB motorhome but...special.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:37 PM   #11
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Oh and you Airstream motor coach people, I still think of you as Airstream first and not necessarily the same as the SOB motorhome but...special.

Yes, they are special . . even when the short bus is shiny silver in color.

.
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:32 PM   #12
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Yes, the silver wagon is a good choice still- even in 2013.
I hope so , I just sold my 37' Beaver Class A DP and bought a 22' Sport.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:23 PM   #13
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As far as I'm concerned, the decision to NOT get a Class A can be made very simply, by looking at studies by a varoiety of travel agencies, such as the ones I read while doing my research before buying my Interstate.

In terms of cost per vacation day, a Class A motorhome— that was purchased new from a dealer— is the most expensive vacation there is, by the time you lump in depreciation, insurance, fuel, maintenance, interest on the purchase, etc. and only spread the cost out over the days you actually use it. And that's even considering that someday you'll sell it or trade it in, thus reducing the net cost.

If memory serves (but my memory may not serve, so don't take this as gospel), the breakdown on vacation cost per day, from highest cost to lowest cost, was:

Class A motorhome;
Ocean cruise (includes flying to departure port);
Flying to destination, hotel, and rental car;
Driving to destination, hotel;
5th Wheel trailer;
Class B motorhome;
Travel trailer;
Popup trailer;
Tent camping.

Not included in the studies were owning a vacation home, owning a yacht, or a time-share condo, so I don't know how those rank. Still, the idea that your vacation cost per day is higher for owning a Class A than for going on a cruise…

My Airstream Interstate costs more— per vacation day— than an Airstream trailer, and only competes in terms of cost by also being able to serve as my daily driver when my other car is in the shop, thus ensuring that I can spread the cost of ownership over more than just the vacation days when comparing vacation costs.

Some full-timers might dispute that ranking, but full-timers are a special case (being on year-round vacation), and weren't considered in the studies I read. Amortizing only over the number of days of use, a full-timer brings the per-vacation-day cost way down.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:28 PM   #14
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Bottom line is -------- Joy/satisfaction of ownership, not cost!! Whatever rings your bell. No two people have the same needs. Sometimes even one person can't figure it out. Every form of the above list of vacation choices is today still a large industry.


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