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Old 04-07-2015, 01:27 AM   #1
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If doing any repairs, keep 1990 Excella 25' close to stock for future vintage value?

My 1990 Airstream Excella 25' is in mostly stock, original and very good, but used condition. Definitely not showroom new, but definitely not beat up or in need of a restoration. I'm sure as time goes on, I'll need to replace parts or have the desire to modify something. Being that my Airstream is now 25 years old, it's inching towards being considered vintage instead of just an old trailer.

Looking at 1960s models, often times originality is highly coveted. People go to great lengths to find one that is in original, unmodified condition, or restore it to original condition. The exception being an Airstream that is so far gone that it needs to be gutted and little, if anything, can be saved, in which case it often gets a custom layout, custom cabinets, etc.

When I bought my Airstream just over a year ago, I almost gave in to getting the dated upholstery on the sofa changed for something more modern. Maybe newer flooring to replace the parquet hardwood. Paint or replace the solid oak cabinets. Put in a stainless steel backsplash. Upgrade the fridge to one that would run on solar power. Change out the AM/FM/Cassette with separate CD changer for a touch screen satellite radio unit. But I'm so glad I didn't. All I did was put on new tires (Michelin light truck radials to replace old, weather cracked trailer tires), a solar panel and an extra battery (now I have two), new custom made mattress for comfort, cleanliness and peace of mind and a new power tongue jack since the original one quit working. Previous owner painted the roof white and installed a TV bracket for a 24" flat screen TV, so I mounted a television on that bracket. So, overall it's still quite original, and found that it didn't detract much from my overall experience using the trailer.

I'm learning to embrace the dated - I mean, vintage look. If I want a newer look, I'll get a newer Airstream. But I've got my 1990 Airstream Excella 25 Double, in very good, mostly original condition. Although it's a 1990, it's got a late 80s look to it, especially the interior. It's at the point where it's not quite desirable vintage, but not just an "older" trailer in good condition. Sort of in that in-between stage of no longer new, or even newish, not sought after vintage, but edging out of the "old" or "older" stage of its life. I'm sure than in time, maybe another 10 or 15 years, it will be appreciated like a well restored or preserved 1960s model. Kind of like a time capsule.

So, if I should need to replace anything, or want to upgrade, should I aim to replace it with the same kind of original part? Or at least a part that can be easily swapped back, like LED lights to incandescent bulbs. I just don't have the space or desire to store old parts. Or should I enjoy it for what it's worth and do what I like to it without worrying about future resale value? Because I think as long as it's not all beat up, there will always be resale value in my Airstream. Maybe the difference in value will be small for an all-original vs good, but not quite original?

I can't seem to insert a picture, but here's a link to one in my gallery here on Airforums:

Living Room In 1990 Airstream Excella 25 - My dog on the couch! Photo Gallery
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Old 04-07-2015, 09:46 AM   #2
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If doing any repairs, keep 1990 Excella 25' close to stock for future vintage...

I might be wrong, but I don't think that 1990s, 80's, or 70s Airstreams will ever carry the nostalgia of the 60s units to the point where detail oriented originality will trump functionality and eye appeal.

I think everyone should do with their trailer just exactly what they desire, and there is certainly no shame in liking a trailer rock stock or not stock at all!


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Old 04-07-2015, 03:05 PM   #3
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1990 25' Excella
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
I might be wrong, but I don't think that 1990s, 80's, or 70s Airstreams will ever carry the nostalgia of the 60s units to the point where detail oriented originality will trump functionality and eye appeal.

I think everyone should do with their trailer just exactly what they desire, and there is certainly no shame in liking a trailer rock stock or not stock at all!


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I guess there's really no way anyone can predict what the future will hold. But I think part of it may depend on the next generation. Kind of like with cars. Those who grew up driving 50s and 60s cars when they were in high school are now of an age, and have enough disposable income to buy and restore, or buy original or restored 50s and 60s American muscle cars. But we're starting to see the younger generation who grew up driving 70s and 80s American and Japanese cars do the same thing. Twenty years ago, we would have never imagined people would lust after, and pay top dollar for an old Pacer, Pinto, Volare, Datsun Z or 510, Caprice, Regal, Sentra, etc. I've seen people pay insane amounts of money for those cars.

Maybe with 70s, 80s, and 90s Airstreams, their time will come. But that kind of answers my question. If and when the time comes (and I'm sure it will), that time may not be for a while. And the people who are willing to pay top dollar for one will probably not be the people who prefer the 50s and 60s Airstreams. Who knows. So, I think I'll make a compromise... if I do any repairs or modifications, I'll only do things that use original parts when possible, to preserve the originality, or if upgrading or modifying, only things the can be easily changed back to original. Seeing as mine is nice, but not mint, I won't stress about it too much, I just want to enjoy it. And if I really want newer amenities, I'll buy a newer Airstream!
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:12 PM   #4
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Did you buy it for yourself or the next guy?
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:49 PM   #5
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My thought is more along the line of "they dont build them like they used to".

I believe the 60s had a 3/4" ply floor, stout frame, solid wood cabinets, flushing toilet, etc.

Stock 70s trailer has 1/2" ply floors, crappy, fake woodgrain cabinets, cheap plastic everywhere.

80s goes to chip board flooring I think, fiber board cabinets, lots of plastic and laminate.

My thought is that the 70s 80s & 90s I'm not a huge fan of the manufacturing "efficiency" that developed over the years, but they can be updated to put back in some of the quality, with a modern touch.

OR if you prefer to keep it true to the era, simply upgrade the quality, but keep the look.

I guess for me, its about the quality of the build, not the look of the era.
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:54 PM   #6
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We bought our 1988 with similar floorplan (then called "Rear Queen") in 2003.. Loved the real Oak interior, but not so fond of pink curtains/blinds and fuchsia and white flowered upholstery or tired brown carpeting.. Decided to upgrade to more neutral and modern look (couch, carpet, blinds, curtains, fabric panels, bedspread, etc..) and have no regrets.. If some future owner doesn't like it, we'll still have gotten all the value we hoped for out of it, and didn't have to live with awful '80's décor.. Similarly most of the '70's trailers featured some of the harvest gold/avocado/dark wood look of interior fashions, and I'd never be upset with anyone that modernized...
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobzdar View Post
Did you buy it for yourself or the next guy?
Haha! Good question! A bit of both really.... I bought it for myself, but I don't want to hurt the resale value. But there's some flexibility. If I do anything that would only cause a minor devaluation, but be a great help or improvement in my eyes, I would do it. I'm just not sure where to draw that line. It would probably be different if I had an Airstream that was already considered antique and highly desirable. If I had a 50s or 60s Airstream in very good overall original condition - a time capsule of sorts - I might be more hesitant to change anything, even if there was something I didn't like.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mixter View Post
My thought is more along the line of "they dont build them like they used to".

I believe the 60s had a 3/4" ply floor, stout frame, solid wood cabinets, flushing toilet, etc.

Stock 70s trailer has 1/2" ply floors, crappy, fake woodgrain cabinets, cheap plastic everywhere.

80s goes to chip board flooring I think, fiber board cabinets, lots of plastic and laminate.

My thought is that the 70s 80s & 90s I'm not a huge fan of the manufacturing "efficiency" that developed over the years, but they can be updated to put back in some of the quality, with a modern touch.

OR if you prefer to keep it true to the era, simply upgrade the quality, but keep the look.

I guess for me, its about the quality of the build, not the look of the era.
If it ever comes to improving the quality of the build, I would definitely do that, especially since I'm using the Airstream. For example, when I got it, the tires were basic trailer tires with a good amount of tread, but according to the date code, were over 10 years old. I've heard those tires (might have been Marathons), were not always the best to begin with. So, since I had to replace the tires anyways, I went with Michelin LTX light truck radials.

Perhaps since my Airstream is an Excella model, it came with the solid oak cabinets, but I'm not sure what kind of floor it has. Could be chipboard. Having done some research before buying, I knew that rotting floors and frame separation was common, and the RV dealer, Can Am, assured me it was fine. I took that to mean that it had been repaired, or was still original in acceptable condition.

But, even if the build quality isn't as sturdy as some of the older Airstreams, sooner or later, there will be a generation of people who are all nostalgic for this era of Airstreams anyways. We could compare to cars. The sheet metal was much thicker in the 50s and 60s, and although subjective, we could say the styling was better than the 70s, 80s, 90s. As a trade-off, cars tended to get safety features, a better level of standard equipment and reliability improvements as time went on. Even today there are people who are very nostalgic over 70s, 80s and 90s cars and some of the older ones (and newer rare models) are selling for outrageously high prices, even though people who grew up with the older cars didn't find them as appealing. Someone will. I'm sure there's a similar trend with the Airstreams. Just a thought. I don't know. I could be wrong. Or partly right, and if so, it could be a long time before 80s and 90s Airstreams come into their own and garner the same kind of respect and desirability of the 50s and 60s Airstreams.

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Originally Posted by Condoluminum View Post
We bought our 1988 with similar floorplan (then called "Rear Queen") in 2003.. Loved the real Oak interior, but not so fond of pink curtains/blinds and fuchsia and white flowered upholstery or tired brown carpeting.. Decided to upgrade to more neutral and modern look (couch, carpet, blinds, curtains, fabric panels, bedspread, etc..) and have no regrets.. If some future owner doesn't like it, we'll still have gotten all the value we hoped for out of it, and didn't have to live with awful '80's décor.. Similarly most of the '70's trailers featured some of the harvest gold/avocado/dark wood look of interior fashions, and I'd never be upset with anyone that modernized...
Mine has the rear queen too! I also like the real oak interior mine has - well, at least the cupboards. The folding tables at the front are laminated particleboard. Being that mine is a 1990, I managed to escape the pink and fuchsia interior, and instead ended up with more neutral beige/gray curtains and a baby blue with white pattern sofa. It's that sofa along with the parquet hardwood floor that make it look dated, but not so bad that I can't live with it. At first I wanted to change it, but I've gotten used to it, and have actually come to embrace the "retro-ness" of it, and have convinced myself that one day it will be a classic. I recall 50s and 60s items being looked upon as dated looking and inferior quality compared to things (especially furniture) that came a few decades before. But now, clothes and furniture from the 50s and 60s are all the rage. I got some from my parents, and bought some (at top dollar) recently, which confirms how trendy and sought after it has become, especially on the west coast.

But the 80s/90s decor in Airstream travel trailers is not old enough to be seen as a desirable classic yet. It's no longer new or the current trend. It's kind of stuck in that "old and outdated" part of the timeline. I'd say give it another 15 or 20 years and it will become desirable. So, maybe I should just leave it alone and only replace or upgrade what absolutely has to, and not do anything for the sake of an "updated" look. Except if it means a safety or efficiency improvement, like LED lightbulbs inside and maybe for the tail lights.
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:49 PM   #8
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My approach is to keep things appropriate to the way they were, or might be, done by the factory. Stay within the boundaries of something Airstream would do.

So, painting cabinets ... eh, I don't think Airstream would have done that.

But changing parquet flooring for something else like carpet, marmoleum or vinyl. .. Why not?

Essentially, when you walk in, can you believe it came from the factory like that? I would be willing to borrow from Airstream designs or techniques of all vintages, old or new.
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Old 04-08-2015, 02:08 PM   #9
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If doing any repairs, keep 1990 Excella 25' close to stock for future vintage...

Here is a synopsis of my journey on "factory stock".

When I was young, but just old enough to have an opinion I was of the mind that all cars and such should be as they left the factory..

then I turned a 180 and thought that everything should be modified.

At my current state I think that modifying any mass produced product in good taste is just fine. I lean away from "trendy" at every opportunity, instead I embrace what I might call "classic" and rustic styling for renovations and rebuilds.

When talking about mass produced things, I figure that there are always going to be nice survivors and nice restorations done with preservation in mind. I did away with my interior aluminum walls, fake wood and plastic tambours in favor of a warm design that makes me feel good. (although I left ALL of this stuff in my 75)

I respect those who are intent on maintaining a factory fresh look, but it just isn't something that is important to me personally. Mass produced items are kind of like Doritos, they made more....

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You know if my trailer had been a really nice survivor instead of a well used and worn instrument of practical camping, I might have had reservations about stripping the trailer out and changing everything, but I would have done it anyway, because I knew exactly what I was going to do when I bought it, good, bad, or ugly...


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Old 04-08-2015, 03:17 PM   #10
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Cute dog on couch! Don't paint those nice real wood cabinets! Update the upholstery fabrics if you want for a fresh look!
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Old 04-08-2015, 03:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Lynch View Post
My approach is to keep things appropriate to the way they were, or might be, done by the factory. Stay within the boundaries of something Airstream would do.

So, painting cabinets ... eh, I don't think Airstream would have done that.

But changing parquet flooring for something else like carpet, marmoleum or vinyl. .. Why not?

Essentially, when you walk in, can you believe it came from the factory like that? I would be willing to borrow from Airstream designs or techniques of all vintages, old or new.
Yes, good plan. That's what I would like to do, for the most part. Obviously a 1990 would not have come from the factory with LED lights, but aside from that, I think it's possible to do something tasteful that looks like it came that way from the factory - and hopefully preserve the integrity of the design. If it's too personalized, that might not work. So far, there's nothing I really want to do that's so drastic it would look obviously custom. I always like things to look like a factory installed option, or at least a factory upgrade.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
Here is a synopsis of my journey on "factory stock".

When I was young, but just old enough to have an opinion I was of the mind that all cars and such should be as they left the factory..

then I turned a 180 and thought that everything should be modified.

At my current state I think that modifying any mass produced product in good taste is just fine. I lean away from "trendy" at every opportunity, instead I embrace what I might call "classic" and rustic styling for renovations and rebuilds.

When talking about mass produced things, I figure that there are always going to be nice survivors and nice restorations done with preservation in mind. I did away with my interior aluminum walls, fake wood and plastic tambours in favor of a warm design that makes me feel good. (although I left ALL of this stuff in my 75)

I respect those who are intent on maintaining a factory fresh look, but it just isn't something that is important to me personally. Mass produced items are kind of like Doritos, they made more....

You know if my trailer had been a really nice survivor instead of a well used and worn instrument of practical camping, I might have had reservations about stripping the trailer out and changing everything, but I would have done it anyway, because I knew exactly what I was going to do when I bought it, good, bad, or ugly...
I don't like modifying to the point that there's no turning back, unless it was a badly neglected or damaged Airstream than needed a full gut job anyways. At that point, might as well go either way. It won't be a factory original anymore, so you could either restore it to factory specs, or do a full custom interior. I've seen a few episodes of a TV show, something like "Pimp My Ride" but for RVs. Might be called "Rock My RV" or something like that. They tend to so drastic things that permanently change an RV. Definitely a huge custom job. There's no turning back - you're committed to it.

I like my Airstream the way it is, for the most part. It's not a mint condition unit, but a very well cared for, but used a bit, Airstream. I'd actually be surprised if there are too many more of the same vintage in nicer condition. Might be a few where someone bought it, used it a few times and parked never to be used again, or used sparingly. Or maybe someone bought one with the intent of keeping it as a collector's item. I don't know. But since mine is in pretty good overall, original condition, that's why I'm hesitant to make any serious changes to it. Or at least anything that can't be easily changed back if desired.

Airstreams are mass produced, true. But not in very high numbers. I'm thinking Airstreams and Winnebagos... kind of like Bentleys and Chevys. Well, maybe not quite such a gap in terms of price or even production numbers, but I think you get the idea.

Anyways, all of this discussion is good. It's helping me decide what to do with my Airstream. I think I'll try to keep it close to stock, or only change things that can be returned to stock form. Or upgrade if it looks (or could have been) factory installed. Either that, or I'll go hog wild and do a full custom job knowing that it will never be considered a factory original anymore. But, I'd be more likely to just buy a newer Airstream that has the features or layout I want if it comes to that.
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Old 04-08-2015, 04:43 PM   #12
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Cute dog on couch! Don't paint those nice real wood cabinets! Update the upholstery fabrics if you want for a fresh look!
Thanks! That's my little buddy Zak on the couch.

When I first got the Airstream, I was going to get the couch reupholstered and paint the cupboards white. Glad I didn't. I've gotten used to the cupboards, and it would be hard to strip the paint off if I ever decided to go back to original. As for the couch, the upholstery is in excellent condition. I had it steam cleaned for good measure. When I was buying the Airstream, I had to stop somewhere with the spending. I had already installed solar, new tires and had to get the hitch and brake controller for my tow vehicle, so that was part of the reason I didn't spend any more.
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Old 08-16-2015, 12:28 PM   #13
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Vintage or Reno?

It's been a couple of months since this conversation stopped, but I'm hoping to revive it as I could use some more thoughts on the subject.

I am the proud owner of a 1961 Bambi, California style. Overall, it's in good shape. I have had to replace the pink toilet so it is now white. The upholstery and curtains were shot, so they're changed and I've removed the awful bambo flooring someone put in. The refrig needs to be replaced along with the hot water heater and furnace. So, bottom line, all of the "behind the walls" stuff will be new. I'm probably going to go ahead and do the shell-off. Afterwards, the functionality of it will be "new".

My question really pertains to the woodworking...the closet, drawers, cupboards and bed/couches. It's in decent shape but certainly not particularly attractive. I don't want to change the layout. I'm just wondering if I replace the wood with new, how have I affected the value? Or, have I already affected the value by changing out the water, electrical, floor and appliances so much that changing the wood won't matter? If I change out the wood, it will look like brand new '61 with '15 wood tone.

What has highest value and demand--total vintage or more dependable and attractive reno that is true to the original? Now that it will be dependable, I can live with either wood finish. Thank you!
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