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Old 09-05-2006, 07:48 AM   #1
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Airstream Relative Cost and Value

Hi All...now that I have done some research it appears that an AS costs significantly more than other "quality" (if there are any!) TTs?

It appears the difference...particularly in the 28'+ "premium" AS Classic/Limited is much more and perhaps $10K-$20K more than a Sunline or Sunnybrook for example (among others), of similar size and options. Same is true of 2-3 year used AS (obviously a resale bene).

While I understand that AS resale offsets some of the premium...and I appreciate the "lifestyle" that comes with an AS (my wife and I are Harley riders)...what are the tangible benefits in construction and amenities of an AS over the other high(er) end TTs?

I would appreciate specific comments form some of you that have owned some of the other higher end TTs before your AS...what are the tangible differences...other than the skin/shap/and "lifestyle"

Or is it like the Harley owners say..."If I have to tell you...you just won't understand."

Thanks...Still Learnin! ...Tom R in Northern Minnesota
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Old 09-05-2006, 08:07 AM   #2
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Tom,
Having been involved in RV's for quite few years and torn more than my fair share apart I will attempt to answer your questions.
Airstream construction is unique in the current RV market, it uses "aircraft style" construction. It has a proven track record of durability and repairability. Don't get me wrong, I like the Sunline TT for what they are, which is a conventionally built wood framed travel trailer, and they are not cheap compared to say a Keystone Springdale. But they will not take the kind of over the road miles and constant use that an Airstream will. Also you won't see too many, if any 30+ year old Sunline's still traveling like 30+ year old Airstreams. FWIW I have a 1976 Pace Arrow MoHo that I aquired. I am amazed that the thing still is in one piece. It spent a good part of it's life in a barn which I am sure contributed to it's longevity. I have 2 Airstreams that have not been pampered. In fact one of them has suffered a fair amount of neglect and abuse over the years, and was still usable when I purchased it. When I get done with the rebuild, I will have a trailer that with basic maintenance should be good for another 20+ years of regular use. If you use some of the less expensive better built trailers like a lot of us use our Airstreams you are only going to get 5-10 years out of them, before they are totally used up.

Aaron
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Old 09-05-2006, 08:09 AM   #3
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Hard Tellin' Not Knowin'

I like the way it looks.
While you might buy and sell a unit to make money, overall, Airstreams are not a wise investment choice. There are exceptions of course but "talk is cheap, Airstrreams aren't," seems appropriate. People run into them, expensive parts wear out, people steal parts, owners attract attention and there are a few snobs about.
This forum reinforces my affinity for Airstream; it is a life style choice.

R
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Old 09-05-2006, 08:50 AM   #4
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hi all,
i bought an AS last month and am in the middle of finding out what i need to bring it back to being operational and clean. the PO was originally rough on the unit, and then it sat for 12 years in the florida sun.

now i don't want to start a war here - but two years ago i bought an avion...
the AS is 1978 and the avion is a 1982 and was well taken care of by the older couple who owned it. i do not know if the trailer industry improved during the four years difference in these two trailer's ages, but the avion is twice the trailer this older AS is. and i'm not talking about optional things, i'm looking at design and ease for repairs -- access -- usable space for storage -- ??? i have been told the owners of avion broke away from AS and i'm wondering what others think of the two manufacturer's standards???
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Old 09-05-2006, 09:10 AM   #5
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Charlie,
Avion was/is a very well built trailer. In many ways I prefer it over the Airstream. I don't know if Avion "broke away" from Airstream. I think not. Airstream was marketed much more than Avion ever was. Also the when Avion was purchased by Fleecewood it was the death of that brand. If you recall Airstream almost didn't make it a couple of times, it was bailed out once by Beatrice Foods, and then again by Thor.

Aaron
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Old 09-05-2006, 09:18 AM   #6
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Avions are great trailers, and some of them have beautiful workmanship. I love them; however, I own a 1978 Argosy that has been used but not abused. It is in excellemt shape with everything working when I got it. I have replaced a few things, by choice, but overall it's a wonderful, well made trailer. Avions are probably as good, but if you want an AS, you want an AS. I had a 67 long ago and I wanted another AS. You would not go wrong with an Avion. Get what you want.
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Old 09-05-2006, 09:31 AM   #7
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Quote:Or is it like the Harley owners say..."If I have to tell you...you just won't understand."

TomR--Tom your quote is close but should be ,"If I had to explain it you wouldn't understand it anyway". Having had Harleys all my life I can tell you there is a mistique thats surounds both Harley and Airstream. Both have survived an onslaught of competion, hundreds of competitors, that has come and gone, war and rumors of wars, depressions and good times. Probably the most attractive thing to me is how both retained their identity yet have updated themselve into state of the art products. People who have never been camping ,know absolutly nothing about trailering, or could care less, know an Airstream by name when they see one just as they know a harley when they hear that identifiable sound. It may not be important to everyone but in a world of throw-away products it's just good to find something that has lasting design and value----pieman
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Old 09-05-2006, 09:56 AM   #8
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TomR,

I started the Airstream experience with a 1969 Airstream International 31 footer in 1983. I owned it for sixteen years and enjoyed it, even though there were some issues I had to deal with (wiring messed up by the previous owner, sagging rear-end, etc.). I bought my í92 thirty-four foot Limited in 1999 and sold the old one for more than I paid for it.

The matter of, ďIs it worth it,Ē is completely subjective. Personally, Iíd never be able to justify the cost of a new Limited. Mine was seven years old when I bought it and I got a good deal on the price (just a bit over one-third of the price the original owner had paid). However, many of the members of this forum buy new and are completely happy and well satisfied.

On the matter of whether Airstreams are better quality than others; this also is a very subjective question. Iím sold on Airstream construction, but there is nothing built by man that is without flaws. All you have to do to verify that this statement includes Airstreams is to read through the posts on this site. Many discuss issues of the quality of new trailers.

One of the complaints about Airstreams is headroom (here is where you pay for the superior air resistance qualities). Iím 6í3Ē and am not bothered by it. Another drawback is less storage. We get along fine, but have no kids. Donít know your age, but youíll need thick skin because of the myth that the Airstream is an ďOld Coot Trailer.Ē I qualify as an Old Coot so it doesnít bother me; I just smile and think of my great fuel mileage and the timeless character of the silver bullet.

I enjoy my thirty-four footer, but to tell the truth, Iíd get more practical use from a shorter model since there are some places I just canít (or donít choose) to go, due to the length. Also, I weighed the issue of a fifth-wheel vs TT when I bought my first Airstream. I chose the TT largely because I wanted to haul my motorcycle on the truck. Iím very happy with my choice; but different strokes for different folks!

Gene
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Old 09-05-2006, 09:56 AM   #9
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Thanks Pieman...I clearly understand the pride of owning a Harley...or and Airstream vs "the rest".

What I am curious about is what are the actual construction/fit and finish quality benefits of owning an AS vs "the rest"?

Example...someone earlier said "aircraft" construction...what does that entail? I recognize the aluminum skin as a major advantage...what about other elements of construction.

Are the axels better/different? Is the frame superior? What about the floor?...I read of tounge and groove marine plywood...is that what AS uses or does AS use something better?

Perhaps it is just a subjective "premium" on an AS TT? I imagine there are actual, defineable premium construction/fit and finish features of an AS?

Let's have it...is it more than a legend and a lifestyle? If not...I CAN understand! Tom R in Northern Minnesota
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Old 09-05-2006, 10:22 AM   #10
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Are you intending to buy new or vintage? There is a real difference in design and materials. Very old Airstreams were light and intended to be pulled by cars. Newer high end Airstreams are delux condos on wheels and intended to be pulled by trucks. If you are camping and boondocking you want an earlier (but not too old) Airstream that has solid floors and good size tanks. If you are just going south for the winter and are parking in a resort, you want one of the 6 wheelers and wide body, if you can afford it. Like many things the Airstream legend is bigger than reality. Most of the appliances and other things that can go bad are common to most other high end trailers. The all aluminum upper monocoup construction is better designed for durability than most other trailers. The newer 5 inch frames are very durable. Old smaller frames with big overhangs can be a problem. The "Airstream lifestyle" is something you will fit in with or maybe not. There are alot of different uses for any travel trailer. The WBCCI lifestyle is one for older retired people with time to attend all the events that are available. The VAC section of the club is a bit younger and the people may be more compatible with you if you are younger and have kids along for the ride.
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Old 09-05-2006, 10:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomR
Thanks Pieman...I clearly understand the pride of owning a Harley...or and Airstream vs "the rest".

What I am curious about is what are the actual construction/fit and finish quality benefits of owning an AS vs "the rest"?

Example...someone earlier said "aircraft" construction...what does that entail? I recognize the aluminum skin as a major advantage...what about other elements of construction.
It also has aluminum ribs, the skins (both inner and outer) are riveted to the ribs. The body is monoque, it provides the necessary support for the frame. To the best of my knowledge no other trailer manufacturer uses this technique at the moment. The main frame is steel, and could use some improvement in coating choice, IMHO.

Quote:
Are the axels better/different? Is the frame superior? What about the floor?...I read of tounge and groove marine plywood...is that what AS uses or does AS use something better?
They use torsion axles, theses are used by other brands, they are more expensive than your basic spring axle used on typical trailers. The belly is enclosed in a full pan. This exists in other brands, but not all of them. The floor has been a weak link in some of the older units, in that it rots away when leaks go unrepaired affecting structural integrity. However on something like a Sunline a 10 year leak is fatal, on an Airstream it just requires some indepth repairs.

They also tow better than a similarly sized SOB. I have towed my 31' with a 1/2 ton truck with no issues at highway speeds. Towing a smaller boxy trailer was, by contrast no fun. It was obviously there and very subject to side winds and passing semis. Not so obvious with the Airstream.


Aaron
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Old 09-05-2006, 07:42 PM   #12
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My comments on TomR’s inquiry about: Airstream Relative Cost and Value
1.) Yes, it cost more than most quality SOBs, but it has good resale value. That is due to the fact that it has a time-tested record of durability, which means that it should have lower long term life-cycle (O&M) costs.
2.) It has “quality” engineering design & unique construction but not always the highest quality in the fit & finish.
3.) It’s classic style & legacy together with the WBCCI organization helps define it as partly a lifestyle choice.
4.) Remember its not an investment. Its a depreciating asset.
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Old 09-05-2006, 08:01 PM   #13
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Airstream...

A couple of years ago my wife said that she would like to get back into trailer camping now that it is just the two of us again. We visited several different dealers. When I got the salesmen off the the side where we could talk one on one I asked the question "if I wanted to buy a travel trailer that I could use for 10 to 15 years and possible give to my kids and they could use it without much work to it, what should I be looking at?" The answer I got from all of them was Airstream.
Haven't had a regret yet.
I bought a used one because the new ones were way out of my reach.
I got mine April of 2005.
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Old 09-05-2006, 08:03 PM   #14
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Lots of good info...sorry Dwight I should have said I am primarily looking at either new...or more likely 2-3 years "slightly used"...probably need/want 25'++ for a walk around queen, a dinnette (sleeper for the grandkids) and a lounge/sitting area.

Sure do like the new Hickory in the C2007 Classic Limited!

Thanks...Tom R in Two Harbors, MN

P.S. Any for sale up here in the Northland... Tom R
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