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Old 07-06-2004, 06:27 PM   #1
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Airstream or less-expensive others?

Hi Folks,

I love the way Airstreams look! I consider myself to be somewhat of a minimalist and I admire conservation, efficiency and quality. My wife and I have been looking for our first travel trailer and we're considering a Bambi. I know I'm writing to the converted but I'd like to know why I should buy the more expensive Airstream versus let's say an Aerolite or similar white box? Do you have any recomendations? Are there any innovative travel trailers out there that focus on light weight and ergonomics?

Will my 98 Jeep Cherokee easily pull a 19 foot Bambi? Will it overheat or overwork the engine going up steep inclines?
Thanks,

Ken
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Old 07-06-2004, 07:23 PM   #2
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Ken, welcome to the forum. I don't pretend to be any sort of an expert, but I've owned other brands of travel trailers and I have experience with most every type of RV. We've now owned two Airstreams and I personally will never own anything else. Why? There are a number of reasons for me. I am certain each and every one of us has our own reasons which differ from person to person, but for me it is as follows:
1) They are simply the best. Yes, you can experience problems with an Airstream just like anything else, but generally the quality is simply excellent.
2) There isn't anything else out there anymore that looks anything like an Airstream. I sort of like that about them. Every other brand looks just like every other brand - except for the Airstream.
3) The floor plans seem to me to be the most efficient in the industry at getting the most out of every square inch. Cabinet quality can't be beat, especially in the older units.
4) A properly maintained Airstream will last forever and hold its value. How many other trailers out there last 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. My trailer is a 1982 and granted it was cared for exceedingly well, but at twenty two years of age I would defy you to tell it from a new one. There are trashed Airstreams, but for the most part Airstream owners take pride in their trailers and keep them maintained. I think they do this primarily because they realize that the trailers will last and last and hold their value. I've probably invested as much over the past year in upgrades and maintenance issues as some other brands one fourth the age of my unit are now worth.
5) How many other trailers have Vintage Clubs where member's trailers have to be 25 years old or older just to be eligible? Read this forum. Attend rallies. You will be surprised at how many Vintage trailers there are out there and they are getting more popular and higher in value all of the time.
6) Again, I am no expert, but I don't know of any other trailer that uses the Henschen axels. They not only offer a lower profile, but are simply a superior product lasting seemingly forever, if not abused.
7) The people. I'm certain they exist, but so far I've never met an Airstream owner I didn't like. I sure can't say that about owners of other brands.
8) Efficiency. Airstream advertises that owners of these trailers can realize a 20% increase in fuel efficiency due to their design and lack of wind resistance. There are those who question these figures, but I am not one of them.
9) I ranch. I pull a trailer of some sort EVERY day -- cattle trailers, equipment trailers, hay trailers, flat beds, utility trailers. Some are gooseneck, some I pull on the bumper and some are coupled to an equilizer hitch. I've pulled other brands of travel trailers. I am here to tell you that I've never pulled a trailer of any size no matter the cargo that pulls as easily as the Airstream. Behind my F-350, I don't know its there. Around the ranch, back and forth to town and short trips around here and there I never exceed 12-14 miles to the gallon. At times I doubt I get 8 miles to the gallon with my 7.3 liter diesel and 4:10 gears. With the Airstream and using the cruise control, I have exceeded 16 miles to the gallon each of the last three years (six trips) going 2500 to 3000 miles from Texas to Colorado, New Mexico, and/or Utah on vacations. Part of that is the fact that I am driving steadily and sanely and not in a stop and go situation as I often am around the ranch, but it still speaks volumes to me as to the efficiency of the design of these trailers.
10) I like the fact that Airstreams don't change all that much in their basic design from one year to another. I think this also adds long term value to them.
I'm relatively certain that as soon as I close this response, other reasons will come to mind as to why I am an Airstream fan, but I will leave those other reasons to my capable cohorts here on the forum. Glad to have you considering becoming a part of this great Airstream community.
GStephens
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Old 07-06-2004, 07:37 PM   #3
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Similar threads...

Here are a couple of threads you might want to read:

Need Help Justifying Airstream Brand

What Makes Airstream Such a Legend

Roger
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Old 07-06-2004, 07:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GStephens
Ken, welcome to the forum. I don't pretend to be any sort of an expert, but I've owned other brands of travel trailers and I have experience with most every type of RV. We've now owned two Airstreams and I personally will never own anything else. Why? There are a number of reasons for me. I am certain each and every one of us has our own reasons which differ from person to person, but for me it is as follows:
1) They are simply the best. Yes, you can experience problems with an Airstream just like anything else, but generally the quality is simply excellent.
2) There isn't anything else out there anymore that looks anything like an Airstream. I sort of like that about them. Every other brand looks just like every other brand - except for the Airstream.
3) The floor plans seem to me to be the most efficient in the industry at getting the most out of every square inch. Cabinet quality can't be beat, especially in the older units.
4) A properly maintained Airstream will last forever and hold its value. How many other trailers out there last 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. My trailer is a 1982 and granted it was cared for exceedingly well, but at twenty two years of age I would defy you to tell it from a new one. There are trashed Airstreams, but for the most part Airstream owners take pride in their trailers and keep them maintained. I think they do this primarily because they realize that the trailers will last and last and hold their value. I've probably invested as much over the past year in upgrades and maintenance issues as some other brands one fourth the age of my unit are now worth.
5) How many other trailers have Vintage Clubs where member's trailers have to be 25 years old or older just to be eligible? Read this forum. Attend rallies. You will be surprised at how many Vintage trailers there are out there and they are getting more popular and higher in value all of the time.
6) Again, I am no expert, but I don't know of any other trailer that uses the Henschen axels. They not only offer a lower profile, but are simply a superior product lasting seemingly forever, if not abused.
7) The people. I'm certain they exist, but so far I've never met an Airstream owner I didn't like. I sure can't say that about owners of other brands.
8) Efficiency. Airstream advertises that owners of these trailers can realize a 20% increase in fuel efficiency due to their design and lack of wind resistance. There are those who question these figures, but I am not one of them.
9) I ranch. I pull a trailer of some sort EVERY day -- cattle trailers, equipment trailers, hay trailers, flat beds, utility trailers. Some are gooseneck, some I pull on the bumper and some are coupled to an equilizer hitch. I've pulled other brands of travel trailers. I am here to tell you that I've never pulled a trailer of any size no matter the cargo that pulls as easily as the Airstream. Behind my F-350, I don't know its there. Around the ranch, back and forth to town and short trips around here and there I never exceed 12-14 miles to the gallon. At times I doubt I get 8 miles to the gallon with my 7.3 liter diesel and 4:10 gears. With the Airstream and using the cruise control, I have exceeded 16 miles to the gallon each of the last three years (six trips) going 2500 to 3000 miles from Texas to Colorado, New Mexico, and/or Utah on vacations. Part of that is the fact that I am driving steadily and sanely and not in a stop and go situation as I often am around the ranch, but it still speaks volumes to me as to the efficiency of the design of these trailers.
10) I like the fact that Airstreams don't change all that much in their basic design from one year to another. I think this also adds long term value to them.
I'm relatively certain that as soon as I close this response, other reasons will come to mind as to why I am an Airstream fan, but I will leave those other reasons to my capable cohorts here on the forum. Glad to have you considering becoming a part of this great Airstream community.
GStephens
Dear GStephens,

Wow what a reply! This is my first attempt at participating in a forum. I'm really impressed with your concise answer. Great job! You've hit upon points that are so compeling, I may go out and buy one tomorrow. There is a 2004 Bambi 19 footer at a dealership in my state (NC). They're asking $28000.00. Does that sound like a good price?

Thanks
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Old 07-06-2004, 08:02 PM   #5
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Can't add anything to GStevens other than amen. To your question though on towing...regardless of trailer brand make sure you research not only your tow vehicle tow capacity but more importantly the gross vehicle weight rating. This is the max with tow vehicle, trailer, cargo etc. that you can go with. As far a pricing, it seems like the new ones can be negotiated anywhere from 10-20% off MSRP. Good luck, hope to see you at a rally sometime.
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Old 07-06-2004, 08:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenlad
There is a 2004 Bambi 19 footer at a dealership in my state (NC). They're asking $28000.00. Does that sound like a good price?

Thanks
Depends on the equipment, they seem to go for $27-34,000, depending.
Terry
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Old 07-06-2004, 08:21 PM   #7
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It is important to understand that I mean no disparagement by the following:

You mentioned the option of some lightweight trailers. These units have minimal weight as their primary design goal. Longevity simply does not factor into the equation as it cannot be acheived without the use of materials that are far too expensive for marketability. If you absolutely must have a 28' coach that can be pulled by a small SUV then there is really no alternative, is there? But the lightweights from every manufacturer will simply shake themselves apart in just a few years. Does that make them defective? No.

One possible exception is the Award line. No dealer network anymore, however; you have to go to the plant in Canada.

For better build quality, you must have a certain amount of weight. And there are several companies out there that build very fine units indeed. It is reasonable to buy one of several brands and have it last 15, even 20 years, with some care. But an Airstream will go far beyond that, even with minimal care.

For towablility, space utilization, retention of value, and just the sheer pleasure of use the Airstream line cannot be beat.

Mark
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Old 07-06-2004, 09:36 PM   #8
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Hi,

I would also have to agree with GStephens comments as well. I to have owned other brands of travel trailers and they don`t have the quality, useable space ,or the ease of towing that Airstream has.I now have a 34ft trailer and it tows just as easy as my 31 ft trailer did. Good Luck Shopping and when you buy one join your local WBCCI unit and that will make it even more pleasurable to own an Airstream. Davis
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Old 07-06-2004, 10:14 PM   #9
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Airstream or less-expensive others?

Greetings Ken!

Welcome to the Forums!

Quote:
Originally Posted by kenlad
Hi Folks,

I love the way Airstreams look! I consider myself to be somewhat of a minimalist and I admire conservation, efficiency and quality. My wife and I have been looking for our first travel trailer and we're considering a Bambi. I know I'm writing to the converted but I'd like to know why I should buy the more expensive Airstream versus let's say an Aerolite or similar white box? Do you have any recomendations? Are there any innovative travel trailers out there that focus on light weight and ergonomics?

Will my 98 Jeep Cherokee easily pull a 19 foot Bambi? Will it overheat or overwork the engine going up steep inclines?
Thanks,

Ken
My experience echoes that of several of the earlier posters. I too have owned Airstream as well as coaches from two less expensive brands. The less expensive brands were both box type coaches. I owned neither of the competing brands for more than five years - - in both cases the repair shop trips increased exponentially after the warranties expired. One of the coaches had been so under-engineered to save weight that it was beginning to come apart at the seams by the time it was three years old. (Both of these experiences occurred prior to 1995 so may not be indicative of what might be expected of the current crop of light-weight box-type coaches.)

Both of my Brand X trailers were purchased new while both my Airstream Overlander and Argosy were purchased used (Overlander was 31 years old while Minuet was 24 years old). In both cases the used Airstreams were in more serviceable condition than either of their predecessors when the brand X trailers were less than 5 years old.

The one thing that I have noticed is that the dealers with whom I dealt during my years with Brand X trailers was that the service department lost interest in doing much more than "make-do" repairs once the coach hit 4 years of age. My Airstream dealer, on the other hand, takes pride in quality repairs on my Vintage coaches - - I have never had anything but praise for the overall quality of the service and repair work that my Airstream dealer has performed on either the Overlander or the Minuet.

Good luck with your decision!

Kevin
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Old 07-06-2004, 10:34 PM   #10
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What alternative? We never considered anything else and don't regret the selection a minute! We show up just about anywhere with our trailer and we can barely get out of the truck before someone we never met wants to know about it. But the bottom line is the quality and the uniqueness of the product. Be sure to evaluate the technical specifications to assure your Jeep can handle the weight of the trailer you are considering also consider getting both sway control and weight distribution to make the towing experience easier (there are many threads on this). Good Luck!
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:42 PM   #11
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We love our Airstream, one of the best investments we have made. There is one problem with a washed an clean Airstream in the bright sun. You need sun glasses to stare at it's beauty so you won't go blind by the reflection.
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Old 07-08-2004, 12:45 AM   #12
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We are members of the converted! BUT...our first 'real' travel trailer was a Casita (17'-SD). We learned to love RVing with it before making the plunge into an Airstream. Having done it that way we have NO regrets about either purchase. If we were to downsize now it would be a Bambi 19.
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Old 07-18-2004, 04:54 PM   #13
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We love our Bambi!

Hi, Ken,

My husband and I are thrilled with our 2003 Bambi. It's perfect for the two of us, and our only regret is that we don't get enough time off to use it enough. But the good news is, when we retire, we have no doubt it will be in at least as good condition as the day we purchased it. All the fixtures and appliances are top notch, and the materials inside are great.

We pulled our Bambi only once or twice (just taking it from home to winter storage) with a Jeep Cherokee, and we felt the weight was a bit much for that vehicle. Granted, we didn't have the Reese hitch and friction sway bar (which we just had installed last week at Jackson Center) on the Jeep, and I'm sure that makes a difference. We're about to embark on our first trip with this new gear hooked to a Ford 150. The Reese additions should make us much safer, and we look forward to experiencing the difference vs. pulling without it.

$28K for a 2004 sure sounds like a good price to me, considering some dealers around here were asking up to $32K for a 2003 last year. In any case, good luck with your decision!

Cherie
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