One of the things to consider when thinking in terms of a pre-owned Airstream travel trailer is whether you want Vintage (25-years old or older) or a more recent model.
Originally Posted by mack-in-nc
But what about trailers? Other than options and ordering exactly what you want is there any real advantage in getting new one over a used. You check for wear, yes, but isn't one of the advantages of Airstream trailer is they really seldom wear out? Isn't why there are so many vintage AS out there?
If you are thinking about a late-model pre-owned Airstream travel trailer, you can expect to gain the economic advantage of allowing the first owner(s) to absorb the big hit of initial depreciation. Probably the biggest unknown with a coach upon which the two-year manufacturers' warranty has expired, is just how vigilant the first owner(s) were in pursuing the resolution of any warranty issues encountered during the critical first two-years. Where the first owner's vigilantly followed up on warranty repair issue resolutions and kept up with routine maintenance, a late-model, pre-owned coach can provide great value.
The older the coach that you examine, the more care that will be required as there will be a higher probability of issues that might be present resulting from postponed maintenance -- floor rot issues, rear end/front end separation issues, frame rot issues, window and body penetration sealing issues, bad torsion axles, etc.. In addition, like household appliances, RV appliances also have a built-in obsolescence factor so once they reach a certain age, the usual recommendation of repair technicians is to replace rather than repair -- and it seems that age is usually around ten years of age for most appliances to no more than twenty years -- on the older vintage coaches (pre-1980), many of the appliances were more rebuildable (PAR water pump, Armstrong Bay Breeze Air Conditioner, Dometic RV Refrigerators, etc.), but even those appliance have a finite life expectancy.
Beyond budget, there are other reasons that some people consider and purchase pre-owned or Vintage Airstream travel trailers. There is the appeal of the older coaches with their 1960s/1970s design themes and nostalgia; as well as the availability of certain floorplans that can't be duplicated in current model coaches. Despite, the undeserved (IMHO) bad reputation of the Vintage coaches with rear bathrooms, I wouldn't have an Airstream travel trailer without the rear bathroom because I find the additional bathroom space provided in this floorplan to be worth any additional maintenance required to maintain the sealing on the coach. The initial reason that I purchased my 1964
Overlander rather than a new 1995 25' Airstream was that I couldn't tolerate the mid-bath floorplans in the new Airstreams and looked until I found my '64 Overlander that was in ready-to-camp condition. The initial condition of my Overlander allowed me to spread its restoration/refurbishment over a period of nearly five years while I retained the use of the coach throughout the process -- as all of the restoration work was confined to the off-season which allowed me to take advantage of specials offered by vendors during their off-season for projects that may have been too complicated for their shops during the busy camping season.
A key component to the new versus pre-owned is how particular you are about the combination of floorplan, interior color scheme/decorator plan, required factory options, etc. Purchasing pre-owned generally means being a little more flexible about colors and options to get a desired floorplan, but with perseverence, just about anything desired can be found given a generous time-line and a willingness to travel to find the desired coach.
Good luck with your investigation!