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Old 05-24-2015, 11:13 AM   #1
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Vintage or New?

My husband and I have decided to make the Airstream leap. (So excited!) We're heading out to Alumapalooza later this week, and can't wait to meet folks. Here's the question we've been wrestling with: should we go new or vintage?

Our preference is to purchase a vintage shell and get it restored exactly as we would like it. We would have the work done professionally. We are, however, concerned about what to look for in a vintage -- e.g., are there "deal killers" that would make a vintage trailer a "no go"? We are so new to this, that we have no idea. Also, what can we expect a restoration to come in at or below the cost for "new"? We do want all the bells and whistles -- e.g., nice kitchen and bath -- but can we restore for about the same cost as new?

The new Airstreams are lovely, but not nearly as "special" to me. They feel so cookie-cutter. We want something we can truly make our own. Any advice, as well as leads on who does reliable restorations, would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 05-24-2015, 12:14 PM   #2
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Just my "opinion" here, but if you don't want to do the restoration yourself, or cannot for whatever reason, I'd buy new, or newer. Think it would be cost prohibitive to have a vintage trailer restored and totally redone.

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Old 05-24-2015, 12:26 PM   #3
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A very tough decision to make, but given equal amounts of money spent on either choice, I guess I would go new and then customize it as you find the changes you want to make.

I have had a lot of older vintage Airstream and Argosy trailers, and loved each and every one of them. But I have to admit that my 2014 is pretty nice too. I have been making custom adjustments to it, but starting with a new rig is very nice vs. and older one which needs repair, renovation, restoration, and it is still never quite right.
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Old 05-25-2015, 12:41 AM   #4
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Im bias towards vintage. I've never had a new AS but i like the idea of having a blank canvas to work with. We are a year and a half into a full renovation and i would say that all the features(floor plans, tech,etc) and bells and whistle were exactly as I want it. Having a one of a kind custom AS is what we are going for.
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Old 05-25-2015, 03:29 AM   #5
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I am also bias toward the vintage Airstream's.

As far as costing more to purchase and renovate a vintage unit. I think you can do the math for yourself.

New 2016 Airstream International Signature 28FB is $92,855.00

I think you can rebuild a better trailer for less $$.

Used/vintage Airstream will vary in condition and cost. If you want to make a better than new trailer I would look for a unit with descent exterior. Expect to drop at least 30k to 50k, for a ground up rebuild. Just think, Hydronic heating, instant/continuous hot water. Huge refrigerator/freezer, extra large holding tanks, custom (real) wood cabinetry, anything and everything you can imagine can be done.

It can take some time to get it done. But worth it to me.


-Dennis
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Old 05-25-2015, 03:46 AM   #6
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Taking on the restoration/rebuilding of an old Airstream requires considerable time, patience, effort, and a LOT of money. And in the end, you will have a trailer that still won't have the value nor reliability of a new model.

In my view... you will spend a lot of money either way: new or remaking vintage to closer to new. It all depends on how you want to spend the time and effort and how comfortable you are with the value of the final result.

A number of years ago I bought a late 60's Overlander with the intention of restoring it to being the latest/greatest. Once I fully realized what would be required in time, effort, and money to get it there, I decided to let the Overland rest in the field and I bought a new 5th wheel, instead. I just didn't have the time, patience, nor funding required to take the '65 Overlander to the required state of being that I had in mind for it.

I'd say that unless you are really deeply committed to the restoration effort and all that it will entail, just buy a late model Airstream and begin enjoying it sooner, rather than later.
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Old 05-25-2015, 07:26 AM   #7
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Or check out the possibilities at Seattle Airstream. They do some work with "blank" units to customize. If you are already comfortable with spending what a new larger unit will cost, perhaps this may interest you.

IMHO, in the end, if you are expecting the performance of new, it will be less costly to buy new from the start than to bring old up to new.
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Old 05-25-2015, 07:34 AM   #8
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If you are going to pay someone to do the work, as long as it is a reputable shop, I say go for it. It will be expensive, it will never be new, but It will be what you want. Be sure to get a completion date and be sure they stick with it. These things can drag out for years and you have nothing to camp in. My advice would be to add at least thirty percent on the redo price. Also I don't think you can get a loan, unless you use a home equity one to have this done. If you have cash and the time and patience to do this then good luck. I hope it turns out well. Jim
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Old 05-25-2015, 07:37 AM   #9
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Good point about the loan Avionstream.

If you purchase new and finance, the interest is like a home mortgage deduction as far as your tax picture is concerned.
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Old 05-25-2015, 08:19 AM   #10
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One thing to consider when thinking of a total rennovation of a vintage unit is that back in the day, the trailers' claim to fame was how light they were, which means that the frames were not made to support the kind of weight that you find in modern trailers. So if you imagine that you will take a trailer that was built in the 60's and rebuild it with all the features found in modern trailers (ie., granite counter tops), then you are going to have to start the rebuild by replacing the frame with something much beefier.

Note also that vintage trailers aren't quite the "blank canvas" that they may seem to be. Unless you want to put a bunch of unsightly patches on your trailer, there are a lot of shell penetrations (ie., windows, vents, exhaust holes for furnace, access to water and water heater, etc.) that will dictate how the finished trailer will be laid out.

As to cost, if you have the work done at a reputable business, you can expect to pay as much for the rennovated trailer as you would for a new one. Why? because it is a new trailer--the only thing that will survive from that vintage trailer you bought is the shell. On top of that, everything has to be custom made to fit in that shell. It isn't like a modern trailer where the facotry tech just goes and gets a shower stall from off the shelf and puts it in place.

Good luck with your decision!
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Old 05-25-2015, 08:46 AM   #11
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Some of us had the pleasure to tour the 1965 Trade Wind that Airstream Jackson Center built "for fun". It was fabulous! The asking price was $65k.

So to have a good shop build you a new vintage Airstream will be over 50k and maybe more. Since you will customize it to your tastes, finding buyers with similar tastes may be more difficult. I would suggest a professionally rebuilt and renovated vintage Airstream is still worth quite a bit judging from the classifieds I read.

I think one of the disadvantages of a vintage Airstream renovation is the fact that the vintage Airstream will still have the old windows and doors. Everything else can be changed. My 66 Trade Wind will always have those leaky Corning curved glass windows even with a 50K renovation.

The decision is a toss up in terms of dollars. A renovated vintage Airstream might take up to a year once the project starts. A new one can be had sooner. The comment on a stronger frame to handle the weight of the amenities is valid. The Airstream body style changed significantly in 1969. It want from "twinkie" shape to "loaf" shape. Note the caravan photo at the top of the Air Forums page. The last trailer in line is a 1960s twinkie, the other trailers are more rounded "loaf" shape. The loaf shape had a bit more interior space.

David
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Old 05-25-2015, 08:46 AM   #12
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We also started our search with a strong bias towards the vintage trailers -- but we bought newer trailers for one reason: the light and the views created by more and larger windows.

I would never tell anyone which trailer would be best for them, because only they can judge that. I do suggest that you add to your consideration how you are going to use it, and how important the bigger views and the brighter feel are to you.
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Old 05-26-2015, 09:37 AM   #13
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Thanks to all who have provided feedback. Some outstanding points made here in this thread. We realized that a renovation would be work and costly, but we hadn't yet considered issues related to carrying weight, size (and sealing) of windows, tanks, etc. (Well, my husband was probably thinking about it, but I was pretty gunge hoe on renovation.) Based on what we've read here, I think we're going to take another look at the newer models. And what better place to do that than at Alumapalooza later this week! Hope to meet many of you there! Thanks again...
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Old 05-26-2015, 10:08 AM   #14
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Personal choice

Quote:
Originally Posted by DHart View Post
Taking on the restoration/rebuilding of an old Airstream requires considerable time, patience, effort, and a LOT of money. And in the end, you will have a trailer that still won't have the value nor reliability of a new model.

In my view... you will spend a lot of money either way: new or remaking vintage to closer to new. It all depends on how you want to spend the time and effort and how comfortable you are with the value of the final result.

A number of years ago I bought a late 60's Overlander with the intention of restoring it to being the latest/greatest. Once I fully realized what would be required in time, effort, and money to get it there, I decided to let the Overland rest in the field and I bought a new 5th wheel, instead. I just didn't have the time, patience, nor funding required to take the '65 Overlander to the required state of being that I had in mind for it.

I'd say that unless you are really deeply committed to the restoration effort and all that it will entail, just buy a late model Airstream and begin enjoying it sooner, rather than later.
And in the end, you will have a trailer that still won't have the value nor reliability of a new model.

I think "value" is in the eye of the beholder. IMHO a restored vintage trailer will hold its resale value far better than a new trailer. Having restored two vintage trailers, I am biased and would say it is definitely a personal choice with no "right" answer.
Good luck and happy camping!
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