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Old 02-04-2013, 03:00 PM   #1
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How many used AS did you check out before you purchased?

For those of you that bought used Airstreams, how many did you look at in person before you bought it? Is it one of those cases where you "just knew?" I'm just wondering what the average number would be.

Since there aren't a lot of vintage Airstreams in one place, I'm picturing quite a few road trips (or at least asking an Airstream expert to do an inspection in my place). What should be the realistic expectation?
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Old 02-04-2013, 03:07 PM   #2
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I looked at 3 used ones at my dealership. The first one had been through a tornado. While it had a few scuffs from flying debris, it wasn't too bad. Interestingly enough there were pieces of roof shingles wedged between the awning and the body.

The second one wasn't bad until I went through and found the former owner had put screws in the walls where ever he wanted to hang something. Not very nice.

I forgot what I didn't like about the third one but finally the dealer told me kiddingly that obviously I wouldn't be satisfied unless the trailer was new. I agreed and three months later bought a new one.

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Old 02-04-2013, 03:16 PM   #3
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I may be an outlier on the low end, but I bought the 3rd trailer I looked at after "getting serious" and only the 2nd trailer I did a full-on inspection checklist. The way the purchase happened still seems weird, but nearly 2 years in I haven't had a moment when I regretted it.

I think when you're looking at used units, it's going to depend on the luck of the draw and what you're looking for. I was open to all sorts of options, but I wanted something that would be ready to camp in without a lot of work. While I've done some upgrades and improvements, our first several camping trips were done pretty much as it came to us from the previous owner, with the only real problem being some drippy waste valves that I got corrected right away.
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Old 02-04-2013, 03:18 PM   #4
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If you are thinking about buying a used one that is only a few years old, then I suggest you take the great advice these forums gave us: go to a dealer and spend some time in every model. Try the bed. Spend time in the dinette and/or lounge area to see how comfortable it is for longer periods. Visualize how you will use it.

It is a lot like buying a (little) house -- it has to be right for you, and you will know when it is.
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Old 02-04-2013, 03:42 PM   #5
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Full disclosure about my 2nd-serious-inspection experience: I had been a somewhat-rabid reader of AIRForums for a few years before I was in a position to look seriously at trailers, so I'm not normal (ask anyone who knows me, they'll probably agree. )
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Old 02-04-2013, 04:03 PM   #6
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Old #1: Purchased the first Airstream we looked at.
Old #2: Purchased the first time we looked at it while Old #1 was being serviced.
Old #3: Purchased the first time we went looking after selling Old #2
Old #4: Purchased on the internet, and had it delivered to Albuquerque.
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Old 02-04-2013, 04:09 PM   #7
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We bought the first one we looked at too...our 1964 GlobeTrotter. It was the 1st Airstream I ever stepped foot in. We had it for about 8 years before selling it. We've since looked at every trailer we could at rallies & on the road looking for "our next project" & "the perfect plan". We bought our 1956 Safari pretty much sight unseen because we knew we liked the layout & the outside was in pretty good shape. We've also bought a couple of vintage kin - "right place, right time, right price"...we tend to be a bit impulsive.

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Old 02-04-2013, 04:24 PM   #8
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Since "impulsive" is my middle name, that's good to know, Shari!!

But seriously, I am in savings mode just trying to get up the cash so that when the time to make a move is right, then I'm ready. I do have a couple that if the funds were there at the moment, I think I'd be calling on the inspectors to go do a look-see. Hoping to have myself in a better situation by mid-summer! (As you can see, I'm already chomping at the bit...trying to get as much info as possible).
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Old 02-04-2013, 04:31 PM   #9
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Bought the first and only Airstream we had ever seen. Later we bought another one. Only 2 for sale I have ever looked at. Both had probelems. Both cost a bit of money to fix. But they now work fine. I knew nothing to "check out" when we started.
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:04 PM   #10
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I have purchased 2 used Airstreams in the past few years. My first one was a 2003 Bambi (19ft) purchased in mid-2010. It was advertised in our small town daily newspaper for about 6 weeks at what I now know was a very low price. About a month after the ad first appeared, the price was reduced by $2,000 so I decided to go look at it...about 30 miles away. It looked brand new, and though I knew absolutely nothing about travel trailers or Airstreams, my wife always wanted a Bambi, so we bought it. We were not disappointed.

We used it for two years, logging over 15,000 miles, but one week in the Spring of 2012 spent in the Florida Panhandle with "no-seeums" convinced us we needed something a little larger if we were ever forced by weather or bugs to stay inside (with our two dogs) for long periods of time.

It was then that I began to search the Airstream Classifieds. I searched daily, sometimes twice a day, looking for a 23 foot Airstream. By then I knew the Airstream Classifieds existed...I am sure the Bambi never appeared there...just in the local paper. After a couple of months, and some phone calls and e-mails I came across just what I had been looking for. After learning more from the seller we drove about 10 hours to have a look (cashier's check in hand), and we came back with a 2006 Safari (23 ft), in June of 2012. It was just like our Bambi, with a four foot addition in front of the kitchen. We were home with our new Airstream for less than a week before we were scheduled to leave for a 6 week vacation in the Canadian Maritimes in our new Airstream.

Both units were relatively new (6-7 years old) when we bought them. Both were on their second set of tires. I had each inspected by a local RV repair shop with Airstream experience (after I bought them). No big problems. We had some work done on each unit after a time, new brakes, pack wheel bearings, new batteries, etc.

I sold the Bambi on the Airstream Classifieds. Interesting experience. The buyer was a broker who treated the purchase (and sale I presume) much as a commodity. He asked for pictures, talked me around the unit asking questions as we went around it) and then after getting a fax copy of my title (which said "void" all over it since it was a xerox copy) he was satisfied that I actually owned the unit and he wired the money to my bank account. All of this happened within 18 hours of listing the Bambi on the Classifieds! Two days later a driver picked up the unit at my house and left for the Midwest! Two days after that we left for Canada.

Probably not a typical experience.
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:18 PM   #11
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I bought ours from pictures online! There were none close to us and one popped up in Williamsburg VA and it took several weeks but after I found a great member close by he and his wife looked it over and told me it was close to perfect! We purchased it with a cashiers check (through our banks) and the bank held the title until they felt comfortable that the check was indeed real and sent me my title. I felt good about the people we bought it from and having another meet them and inspect the trailer made me rest easy at night. I drove 2400 miles round trip though, rain sleet, ice and snow but got her home three years ago and haven't regretted ever since! Take your time and dealing in person is best but this way worked for us. Good luck and keep dreaming! Half the fun is the HUNT!
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:23 PM   #12
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We searched casually for several years, then finally bought a new one; because we couldn't find one that we liked. Most of the good, used ones seem to be passed down to family members or snatched up by next door neighbors; and they never make it to the classified ads. The rest seemed like they needed to be restored, which is OK if that's what you intend.
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:20 PM   #13
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We actually looked at three used Airstreams before we bought. We lucked into just the right one only half an hour away. Just what we wanted, good price. But the looking is loads of fun!
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:34 PM   #14
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Bought mine while driving home... saw it with for sale sign in window about a mile from house in rural area. Someone was getting a tour and I was asked by owner to join in with any questions... Decided to wait at the side until possible buyer was finished... When done without looking inside offered 66% of what the buyer wanted... We agreed on that price... Figured by the way it is built anything wrong could be fixed if cost was right after all it's an AIRSTREAM , right. 1984 AS 345. When the seller delivered it two days later finally got a look at the inside.

Maybe not the smartest way to buy but got the price to be able to rebuild it the way I want
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:44 PM   #15
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Great feedback, folks. I love hearing all of your success stories!
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:47 PM   #16
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How many used AS did you check out before you purchased?

My purchase dates back to 1995 so there wasn't much assistance from the Internet even though I had Internet access at work. The search involved scanning every "Trader" publication that I could find as well as the classifieds in the Madison, Wisconsin and DuBuque, Iowa weekend newspapers for nearly a year. My search had begun with new Airstreams, but I couldn't find an acceptable floorplan as I insisted upon a rear bathroom arrangement. It only took one trip to the dealer to confirm that the new Airstreams weren't offering what I wanted.

During the year that I searched, I traveled in excess of 3,000 miles to inspect 12 Airstreams. The newest that I considered was a 1988 and the oldest was the 1964 Overlander that I purchased. In the end, my decision came down to two coaches . . . a 1977 Airstream Caravanner and the 1964 Overlander. I came very close to calling and cancelling my appointment to look at the 1964 Overlander, but something about its picture in the Trader kept drawing me back. The next day, I was on the road to inspect the Overlander.

Within minutes of entering the door of the 1964 Overlander, I knew that it was the Airstream of my dreams. Within an hour, I was making a good-faith deposit with arrangements made to tow the Overlander home five days later. I couldn't identify precisely why it had "instant" appeal, but over the years I came to understand its original appeal. Several weeks after purchasing the Overlander, I was towing it to my family's farm about 500 miles from where I lived at the time. My route took me near the home of a friend of my family who's parents had introduced me to camping in 1964. While visiting that family friend, I learned that this 1964 Overlander was the same one that those friends had just purchased prior to inviting me on that first camping trip . . . the Overlander had been brand new at the time and it had been towed by a 1957 Mercury Monterey. The Overlander was identified by the curtains that had been made by the original owner shortly before the trailer was sold in 1980.

My Minuet was a much different story. I wasn't really actively shopping for another Airstream, but had been intrigued by the first 6.0 Metre Minuet that I had seen at the 2000 WBCCI International Rally. It was during that Rally when I had the opportunity to meet the Minuet's owner who was a retired college professor. We spent quite some time talking about the little trailer, and in the end, I made a casual remark that I might be interested should he ever consider selling. A couple of years later, I received an e-mail from the professor indicating that he was going to sell the Minuet and upgrade to an Airstream Tradewind. Initially, I passed on the offer, but that decision bugged me for two days . . . I called and made an appointment to inspect the trailer. I knew as soon as I set foot in the little coach that it had to come home with me . . . I left a cash deposit and returned four days later with the balance due and towed her home.

I have never regretted the purchase of either coach.

Kevin
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:51 PM   #17
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Bought the first one we actually looked at but did some long distance looking prior. Couple of surprises but overall we got a good trailer that needed some repair work and the price was within reason. I knew I would be replacing axles, they were original, so with the cost factored in, it was still fair.

Unless you are willing to wait a long time or travel a long way, getting the "perfect" trailer may be very elusive and if you find one with a decent price in good shape, don't sleep on it too long or somebody else will be driving it home.
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:11 PM   #18
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Good questions. I started my quest about a year and a half before buying. I planned on shopping and saving for about three years or so. I started by reading about RVs. I had rented an RV (Mercedes View-like motorhome) for a trip in New Zealand and loved it. I started with those but the more I read, I realized that a trailer was in many ways a better choice. I still looked at 5th wheels, used class A types and more trailers. Then I focused on Airstream by visiting Bates RV in Tampa. I looked at new ones and fell in love with two models - the 23C and the 25FB twin. Then sticker shock came. I thought of used but when the sales person showed me 3 used ones (two were really old and rough) I was overtaken with learning how to build trailers! It was too much for me to rebuild one with no place to tear it apart and limited funds (they weren't that cheap). I went to the Tampa Super RV show in 2012 to look at other options. I found two - an earthbound and a galileo trailer. The turning point for me was talking with a Winnebago executive at the show. I was told by a local man about the new Winnebago One that was coming out and it would be fantastic. When I went to see it the Winnebago man asked me some questions about what I was looking for and where I lived, etc. He then told me that if I lived in FL the best decision I could make would be to get a rig with a metal or fiberglass roof and his was not either!! I told him about my findings regarding roof type and immediately he said Airstream or Galileo would be his advice. So, Airstream and used became my mantra. I then began the quest for a twin later model used. I was told that twins in newer models were not common and it may be a while. Then ONE MONTH LATER someone traded one in. I went to look at it. I spent over two hours looking at it. I was emailing people on this forum like crazy leaving posts, etc.

You see, all the Airstreams I had ever seen had silver walls inside and panoramic windows and called Flying Cloud or International. I had not seen the front panel window or the type of dark tinted windows that were on the Safari model I was looking at. So, that took me a while to consider if I liked it or not. Right next to it was another used one they got a 2007 Safari SE FB. I looked at that too but it was $10K more and I could not see that difference for me. I have now grown to like the insulated walls and ceiling (like a classic model) and the windows do not bother me at all. I added fantastic fans in the front and rear and ordered special lids. The one in the front is clear so there is added light and the rear is the translucent for light but not as much. It is a lot brighter than it was inside and I like it better. The fan motor blocks the direct sun but the light is still there as with the skylight. I believe you have to figure out what you want first, then when a used one comes along that meets MOST of your criteria you will know if it is in decent shape. Mine was scratched on the side and the bumper was pulled but I have fixed it up and it is all mine- more than I can say If I had purchased new holding a payment book! My compromise was initially the walls and windows. Now it does not matter I am enjoying camping and making it mine. Pick your size and layout. How big can you go?/How small can you go? How handy you are will determine how old you can buy? I wanted to stay in the 4-7 year old range.
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:41 PM   #19
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Very insightful! Yes, I have concluded that we are going to need to go vintage for weight purposes. We're going to need to keep it between 16'-22'. I haven't really determined which layout I prefer...mostly because I am a hands on type person. I'd have to step foot in it to see how I like it. While I'm not handy in electrical or plumbing, I'm hoping I can handle any other types of interior restore necessary. (Meanwhile, I'm already lining up friends and family that ARE handy with the aforementioned). I've also got someone that has volunteered to go cross country pick up for me if need be I guess they just want an excuse for a cross country trip.
Anyhoo, I'm in the wee stages of searching, so I'm putting the proverbial trailer before the truck. I just like finding out how it went for all you seasoned vets out there!
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:56 PM   #20
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How many used AS did you check out before you purchased?


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