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Old 03-04-2012, 10:56 PM   #1
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Need Help Deciding on Airstream

After looking at nearly every brand of 5th wheel and travel trailer on the market I stumbled across AS. I immediately realized that this was what I was looking for all along. I'm extremely interested in buying an airstream and camping across the country. I'm self-employed and own several successful online companies that allow me the freedom of countless hobbies (otherwise I'd go crazy). I have a Tundra 5.7 liter V8 and I think it is capable of handling the weight of most AS responsibly.

I'm really trying to ease into this with something that is usable and livable. I'm not terribly interested in spending $100k at this point. The thought of boondocking with solar is very appealing to me. I've looked at nearly every available AS for sale today and I've come up with a list of about 15 I like. Barring the new ones at a dealership, these are some of my favorites:

1973 26' Airstream Travel Trailer

2005 Airstream Classic , Clearwater FL - 102358371 -

1980 Airstream Excella, Travel Trailers RV For Sale in Corona, California | Southwest Coaches - Corona | - 58892

As you might've noticed - given the examples above - I am struggling with spending a boatload of money on a newer model or spending less money on an older model with the understanding that there will be upgrades and fixes required.

Any suggestions on the 1973 model? It seems like a lot of work was done on this AS. I've read this forum quite a bit on AS made in this era and it seems like floor rot is a big problem. If there's anyone in Harris County willing to ride up there with me to check on the 1973 AS I'll buy lunch (and beer) and pick you up - provided you know what you're talking about. :-)

Any help by anyone else here is welcomed. I'm very new to this, but I look forward to meeting like-minded adventurers.


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Old 03-05-2012, 05:36 AM   #2
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1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
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Welcome to the forums.
Have you checked the classifieds here? There are a lot of Airstreams offered there. Personally, I think that 1973 29' Ambassador is way high. It looks like the car lot has taken the trailer on consignment, and either the owner has some overblown idea of what the trailer is worth, or the dealer is adding on huge consigning fees.
The Caravel is more than I would expect, as well, though strangely enough, the 2005 seems to be priced more within reason.

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Old 03-05-2012, 05:46 AM   #3
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Ours is a 70' model. It had been taken care of and everything worked in it (and still does) - when we got it about five years ago. But like I mentioned, new carpet was in place etc. ..well we paid close to 14K for it but it was worth it. Just above all else, you make sure before purchase - that everything including water and plumbing work right.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:26 AM   #4
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I think the '73 is pretty nice looking- polished, nicely remodeled, etc. But it probably needs new axles unless it has had that done already. If it is as nice as it looks, with all systems functioning perfectly, weathertight with no leaks, no rear-end sag, etc., then I'd give it a serious look if that's the era/look you're after. The '05 looks really nice, too. Good luck!
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:46 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by tphan View Post
I think the '73 is pretty nice looking- polished, nicely remodeled, etc. But it probably needs new axles unless it has had that done already. If it is as nice as it looks, with all systems functioning perfectly, weathertight with no leaks, no rear-end sag, etc., then I'd give it a serious look if that's the era/look you're after. The '05 looks really nice, too. Good luck!
That 73 won't have a grey waste water tank originally installed. I would find out if they had one installed.
What I don't see is any mention of the sub floor/frame repairs be repaired.
Whenever I see an ad for any unit of this vintage w/ hardwood flooring installed and no mention of sub-floor repaired I would be wary of it. Hardwood flooring can hide some serious floor rot.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:48 AM   #6
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I cant really tell from the angle but those axles look "iffy". Just know that any vintage type trailer needs a bit more than just lipstick. Check all the doors windows gaskets vents acess doors etc. Some times those leaks can go undetected for years. Then you will have a big renovation on your hands. 70's trailers are among the most common on the market. Just do a ebay and CR search. Just so you know those axles can go for $600 and up a piece! Are you handy? Do you just want to purchase and camp? Maybe a little fixer upper? I started my shell off full monty almost 2 years ago, still working on it!
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:01 AM   #7
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Don't know about the price, but the 2005 looks good to me. Good size fridge with seperate freezer appeals to me. That is what we have in our '84 Excella. We use the freezer alot. Also, the seperate shower is the way to go IMHO. We paid $5000.00 for ours three years ago. We replaced the tires and greased the axles, but everything else was in working order. We've had WAY more than $5000.00 worth of fun in it and hope to have much more in the years to come!
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Old 03-05-2012, 12:51 PM   #8

2003 25' Classic
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I'm biased...but the 25 Classic looks to be the best overall value if you want to pay and go.

You would want to get up on the roof and check all vents, fans, and skylight for leaks also rear "trunk" carpet all storage compartments. windows and seams.

Also plan on new tires if it still has the OEM's. Same for the batteries.

Make sure EVERYTHING werks.

Looks a lot like ours 'cept for the rear bed.

We love the size and have 'docked with four two leggers and two four leggers and still had room for a good time. rear trunk, but still ck real good for leaks.

AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 03-05-2012, 01:21 PM   #9
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The 2005 is likely the least risky purchase. The 25' is a very popular size and the Classics have great features standard. Much of the depreciation is gone.

Travel trailers are prone to water leaks and plywood floor rotting, so is this one. The Airstream has lots of exposed metal making it susceptible to corrosion. Look closely in, under, and around the trailer for these problems. Some corrosion is reality, decide if its too severe to fix or maintain. Floor rot is expensive to fix.

doug k
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Old 03-05-2012, 01:51 PM   #10
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I also think that the 2005 Classic is the best way to go here, especially for full-timing. Haggle down the price, and then pay for the upgrades (solar, more batteries) that you want. That's easier than paying to fix the issues lurking in a nearly-40-year-old trailer.

Like Doug and Bob said, this is a very handy size and a well-finished trailer.

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Old 03-05-2012, 02:40 PM   #11
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Welcome to the Forums. The 25' looks very nice. But, I would take months looking and ask a ton of questions on this very resourceful forum. Good luck!!!
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Old 03-05-2012, 02:47 PM   #12
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There is an 89 Excella 25' advertised on this forum for $10,800 that has lots of upgrades and looks to be in absolutely excellent condition and is, IMHO, a STEAL at that price. Take a look. I would buy it in a minute if I hadn't already dumped a lot of money in to my 85.
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Old 03-05-2012, 02:53 PM   #13
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If I was in your shoes I would give the most serious consideration to the 25. Much less risk. I couldn't buy an Airstream new but we knew what we wanted and waited for the right unit to become available. Best of luck in your search.
John & Lisa
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Old 03-05-2012, 03:00 PM   #14
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Dear Smith - you said "interested in camping across the country".

Didn't hear anything about woodworking skills or being "Mr. Handyman" around the house.

That makes the 2005 - or even something newer - a NO BRAINER.

The problem with fulltiming is that you have to LIVE IN your Airstream... and if you find out post purchase that you need major repairs or even the full monte? Even assuming you can go to the factory and git-er-dun in 10 days or so it would still be a pain in the neck and the wallet.

INSPECT ANYTHING YOU BUY - even new if it's sat on the dealer lot for a couple of months.

Happy Trails, Paula

Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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