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Old 01-08-2012, 10:36 PM   #1
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'71 Airstream Sovereign Value?

I have dreams of becoming an Airstream owner and would like some advice on what to buy. I'm searching for a vintage trailer that I can gut and remodel to make into a full time residence that will be parked semi-permanently on a piece of land. I hope to hook the Airstream up to permanent sewer, water, and electric connections to simplify the systems in the trailer. I'm not afraid of (but maybe should be) stripping the trailer all the way down to the frame as I would like to insulate and run new wiring, plumbing, etc. However, I would like to find a trailer that has a good shell so I can just focus on the interior.

I looked at an Airstream that is for sale locally that appears to be what I am looking for, but would like some advice on what it is worth. The Airstream is a 71 Land Yacht Sovereign that appears to be in good original condition from what I can tell. The exterior is pretty clean without any dents or damage, all the covers are present and glass is intact. I've read about the rear end separation and jumped up and down on the rear bumper and it maybe moves 1/4" so I'm thinking that it is probably ok (considering I only plan on towing the trailer within a 10 mile radius).

The owner bought the trailer about 5 years ago from California, towed it to CO with hopes of doing some work to it himself to make it usable but quickly found that he was in over his head. He purchased a new Dometic refrigerator for it and tried to install it with little success and gave up. He doesn't know if anything works on the trailer. All he knows is that it towed fine when he brought it home. He said that he purchased the trailer for $5k and spent another $2k on the fridge. His current asking price is $5k(includes fridge). There is a decent set of tires to go with as well that are being stored in the garage. I don't really care about anything working because I plan to gut the trailer anyways but would like to get a solid frame and shell to work with at a fair price. What do you think? Any advice is appreciated as I am new to Airstreams.

Here are pics- http://www.flickr.com/photos/7382548...7628768947195/
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:43 AM   #2
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Sorry, I can't figure out how to get the pics to show up. Here is a link to the album.

71 Airstream - a set on Flickr
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Old 01-09-2012, 10:16 AM   #3
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It appears that the current owner has the trailer supported on jack stands that are bearing on one of the axle tubes, which is a no-no. It may be less of an issue for you since you don't plan on traveling with the trailer, but it's something to consider. The trailer probably needed new axles anyway, they always seem to.

I guess you have to decide what the refrigerator is worth TO YOU, since for a trailer that's used in a permanent spot with electricity, a compressor refrigerator may be more convenient and cheaper. For me, I think the price is high considering its condition and the axles-on-jack-stands problem.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:21 AM   #4
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Thanks for the input. I didn't think about the fridge that way, but it probably isn't worth much to me. I wish I could talk the owner into $3k without the fridge... Would it be a good deal then?
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Old 01-10-2012, 12:22 PM   #5
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Airstreams don't always make the best full-time residence for a number of reasons, especially in Gunnison where they make "cold" and export it throughout the southwest.

Airstreams are "travel" trailers. We love them because they tow well. Among other reasons they tow well because they have aluminum, monocot construction. This means we have an aluminum exterior skin, and an aluminum interior skin on an aluminum skeleton with very inadequate insulation between the skins.
Aluminum is a great thermal conductor.
This in why Airstreams can be so uncomfortable when outside temperature drop below freezing. Any heat you generate inside is quickly conducted outside.

Airstreams tow well because they because they have a rounded, aerodynamic shape.
This makes a poor choice for full-timing.
They make you feel claustrophobic after about 7-10 days of winter weather.
Ever heard of cabin fever?
Airstream fever is worse.

All this being said, the Airstream as described is worth $3000 to $5000 tops.

The axles if original are shot.

If the tires are more than 5 years old, they are shot no matter how good they may look.

The "new" fridge only cost $750.00 and may have been damaged by the PO from the sounds of it.

Hope this helps.

Suggest you look for an SOB with 2X4 construction. Though they don't tow as well, they make a better permanent dwelling, and with their box shape they accommodate domestic refrigerators easier and offer more cabinet space.
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Old 01-10-2012, 12:35 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forums, COSilver.

In general the early 1970s Sovereigns are usually the lowest priced used Airstreams on the market. It is not unusual to find ones in more or less "ready to camp" condition -- that is, with everything present and the major systems in demonstrably working order -- for around $5000. As such one with a partially missing floor and a nonworking fridge would probably not be a great deal at that price.

The question then becomes one of how long you're willing to look and how far you're willing to travel to find something better. Having a trailer that is local and available when you want it is worth something, maybe quite a bit. Even if you plan to renovate the trailer there are things like the air conditioner and furnace and perhaps water heater that you will probably not want to replace unless necessary, so you would want to confirm that those work.
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Old 01-11-2012, 03:37 PM   #7
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It really does not look that bad inside. The outside looks good other than clear coat damage. It looks almost mint inside accept for the missing carpet. If the floor under the bathroom is not rotten you probably have a good one. The floor being sound is a rare thing in an old trailer. If you find one you are 90% there as far as restoration goes. Look under the sink in the back. The bumper plate leaks and rots the floor in the back. Pull up carpet and look. Carpet will cover a lot of floor rot. Also look to the righ of the front door for damage.

Perry
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Old 01-12-2012, 03:18 PM   #8
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I appreciate the thoughts from everyone!

Alumaholic- Thanks for the concern on trying to full-time in an airstream in Gunnison. I agree that a stock airstream would not be livable here in the winter. However, my plan would be to strip it down to the frame(from the inside) and spray closed-cell foam into the framing cavity against the exterior skin and then re-attach the interior skin. This would create a thermal break in the wall of the trailer and would make it easy to heat since the trailer is small. I would also need to skirt the trailer to keep the underside and plumbing connections warm. Then I will need some ventilation so I don't end up with condensation issues inside. I realize this might not even make the trailer comfortable for the winter in which case I would only use the trailer 9 months or less out of the year and seek shelter in a more permanent structure for the winter.


I don't think the trailer is going anywhere soon so maybe I'll keep looking for now. I would also like to talk to the owner and see if he would keep the fridge and consider $3000 for the trailer. That seems like a more reasonable price.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:39 PM   #9
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Offer him $3000 for it. This time of year folks are broke.

Perry
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:45 AM   #10
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Perry is Correct...

Quote:
Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
Offer him $3000 for it. This time of year folks are broke.
Perry
...but don't offer anything until you have looked around a bit more.
Just ponder how much better informed you are now than ten days ago.
Give yourself more time to become better informed day by day.
As Perry implies, That Airstream isn't going anywhere soon.
Keep reading this forum.
Keep asking questions.
Once you buy it, you'll be married to it, for better and for worse, and believe me they almost always get worse before they get better. (See InsideOut's of Law of Airstream Restoration)
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Old 01-13-2012, 10:19 AM   #11
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The axles are shot those can go for $1000+ each the interior looks pretty clean but I would watch out for those windows rehabing them is not fun. Im sure all the gaskets around the openings and vents need to be replaced. I would offfer no more than 3K the 70's trailers are all over the place in decent condition.
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