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Old 07-14-2006, 10:39 AM   #1
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Buying an '85 345 MH ?


From my reading it appears the 345 has a pretty loyal following w/out mention of major disappointments/problems, well built, etc. What's the history on these rigs? What should I be watching out for?

We're going to go look @ a 1985 345 Airstream motorhome w/ the gas chevy 454 in it. This 345 has been FT'd in it 3 times by 3 families. The most-recent owner put in all-new appliances, but it has the orig. interior/upholstery, the rooftop A/C's have been bench-serviced & resealed. It has very moderate mileage for its age ( < 65k).

We're looking at FTing for half a year starting next month, so the propane furnace appeals to me.

Also, I know the 345's don't have as much room as other RV's, not being boxy, but I also understand that they handle better. Is this b/c of the suspension and the airstream 'shape?' Is the tradeoff in space worth the improvement in ride & driveability. I'm also looking at Class C's, but the ground clearance on most of them is poor.


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Old 07-14-2006, 12:14 PM   #2
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do a search here for the motorhome buyers check list. It has many items to look for mechanically and more.

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Old 07-14-2006, 02:30 PM   #3
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Louisville , Kentucky
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I'm a bit partial to the 345 myself. As Alan mentioned, a search for the checklist will help you know what to look out for when inspecting a unit. The good news is that the P30 chassis have a god reputation and highly available and inexpensive parts supply in the automotive aftermarket. For more information about the models, years, layouts, and some history check out another member's website:

Airstream motorhomes definately do not have a lot of storage. They are narrow, low in height and you are correct in that the rounded curves mean no large overhead lockers and no "baggage" door lockers on the outside. Despite this, they can carry quite a bit of gear (we typically travel on short trips as a family of five) but you'll learn to pack well and come up with tricks to maximize storage ideas (a closet rod in the shower for example doubles as a closet most of the day).

As far as the handling goes, I've driven other SOB motorhomes, same year on the P30 and absolutely believe the Airstream behave better and are less stressful to drive. They aren't a diesel pusher, but there are much better than most other brands on the same chassis built during those years. I would say however that a modern gas motorhome on a W22/W24 would out perform the classic, but who has $150K for a gas motorhome?

I think it's the combination of air bag assist along with the tag axles and the lower profile, lighter weight of the Airstreams. After driving one particularly "boxy" SOB across Mo, I can also say there is a lot to be said for curved sidewalls allowing ar to "flow" around the body.

Keep us posted on your search. We've all spent a lot of time driving, camping, sleeping, eating and working on in around and sometimes under our Classics. You'll get a lot of good advice around here.
Steven Webster
1986 Airstream 345 Classic Motorhome
AIR 1760
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Old 07-14-2006, 03:29 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by swebster
you'll learn to pack well and come up with tricks to maximize storage ideas (a closet rod in the shower for example doubles as a closet most of the day).
Who needs a shower every day??

Originally Posted by swebster
As far as the handling goes, I've driven other SOB motorhomes,
OK, google finally revealed "Some Other Brand." Heh.

All good to know. I've read the length of the 345 might prove a minor obstacle in some parks, but we need a similar length whether it's a Class C or whatever.

The fact that the chasis is standard GMC is a help, altho it appears A.S. has a rep for otherwise custom/proprietary parts elsewhere - none of which comes as a shock considering the age & the prospect of future refit work....

A coupla more q's... Any idea how many of these were built in '85? They were pretty pricey for the times. How many end up in salvage yards?

The last NADA price I saw for a 345 was for the 1990, the last year of 345 production it appears. Any thoughts on how much should I discount for the extra 5 years of age?

And ... if I put some more refurb work into it, will it help the resale?

Thanks in advance, wish me luck.....

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Old 07-18-2006, 02:40 PM   #5
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1985 34.5' Airstream 345
Tujunga , California
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We bought our 85 345 for 20K in May 2006 and have put over 10K into it: tires 2200, new generator 6500, all new shocks, ice maker replaced, water heater worked on, and one furnance out of service for now. We love it and will keep it forever. It is very easy to drive, does drag the tail on some driveways.
Ron and Debbie Lawrence
1985 345 Motorhome...... delightfully tacky......yet unrefined
AIR 7992
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