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Old 05-17-2003, 11:57 PM   #1
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Airstreams VS. SOB

Well, today, in addition to going to the junkyard for some car parts cheap, I had to go to a local RV dealer for an ignitor for the Atwood furnace. It stopped firing and I broke the old ignitor trying to fix it (FWIW, Atwood changed the two prong ignitors for anyone that is interested--maybe a different post later).

Anyway, this RV dealer does not sell Airstreams. Call me spoiled, or used to the Airstream because we walked through about 8 to 10 RVs both brand new an used and quite frankly, the Airstream (and I am really trying not to be biased here) even with all her flaws, ran multiple circles around what we saw today. I always knew this, but it was raw and in my face today.

It was surreal how bad these units were.

I love the ol' Bambi even more (and I will even more than that once I get the darn furnace fixed! )

Eric
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Old 05-18-2003, 06:58 AM   #2
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Know what you mean.....

Eric, we experienced the same thing at the Cleveland RV Show, this winter. I kept looking at these things, thinking which one would I buy, if I were looking for something other than Airstream. None of them really appealed to me at all. They all look so sterile inside, not relaxing to be in. Glad I have what I have.
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Old 05-18-2003, 07:21 AM   #3
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Eric, it's true, so true..even today, with all the modern advances..they just don't make that Airstream quality..

It's all in what you're willing to spend for a RV, wither it be a travel trailer or, a top of the line motor home. Speaking of which, there's some really nice ones out there. Prevost is but one of the many custom built motor coach on the road. Have you ever seen the inside of one?
This past week there was an article in the New York newspaper abt the life style of the The RV'er and, in particuler the RV park in Indio,CA., called Outdoor Resorts Indio. Worth reading..if you can find it..
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Old 05-18-2003, 08:00 AM   #4
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Smile Quality comparisons...

My folks just bought a 2001 Newmar Dutch Star 38' motorhome on a Spartan Chassis with 330HP Cat diesel pusher with 15k miles on it. The brand new ones are about $212k. That's the first level that I've found that has the same quality of materials and workmanship that you find in the average Airstream.

I realize that the Airstream MHs are in roughly the same price bracket, but it's nice to see the quality carry down into Airstream's smaller offerings as well. That doesn't seem to be the case with most SOBs. Of course, that's also why the A/Ss are so much more expensive per foot than the SOB's offerings in the same sizes.

It was very interesting to hear this SOB dealer talk about how awful Thor's reputation is among retail dealers in the industry though. He told me that basically he'd go out of business before he'd do business with Thor. And this guy is one of the premier dealerships in the midwest! I was kind of surprised to hear that. Anyone know why that might be?
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Old 05-18-2003, 09:00 AM   #5
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they force feed you. i know a ex airstream dealer who said no more . get your units off my lot. he sells sobs. lol
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Old 05-18-2003, 11:07 AM   #6
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Regarding price. Just for reference, there was a 16' SOB on clearance for $15k.

The 13' was going for about $8k.

I was at the RV show in Rosemont, IL (near O'Hare) when I bought the Bambi. I was at first a bit sad not to see Airstream there, but I found them.... one of the most well hidden parts of the show!

At any rate, I saw a ton of RVs before getting to the Airstream location. Back in the day, you could almost always count on a front window. Most new units either have no front window, or the front window is so small you couldn't really get much light or air to pass through it. What I am getting at is that especially after yesterday, is that the SOBs have such a matchbox feel and although the Bambi is no Rolls Royce, comparted to any of the SOBs in it's class or even a bit higher, it really seems like the Rolls Royce of RVs.

When I got the Bambi home, I noticed a few non critical issues that I felt for the premium price, it should have been done....and that is how I felt until yesterday when I caught a refresher as to what is actually out there.

As for Thor, I am not sure I care for Thor. I believe that Thor, although they may have a good business sense, often times, when a company gets too big, or in Thors case own a hell of a lot of high profile nameplates in an industry, things can go really wrong sometimes. For example, could you imagine, GM taking over Ford and Chrysler (sepereated from Diamler/Benz)? I can bet you almost anything that GM would take the two and add it's influence on the other two, in essence taking most of the individual style and processes out of the hands of the folks that made those two companies what they were.

I am surprised that for all the cheepo brands Thor has, that the Airstream has not fallen further.

Still, I know now beyond a shadow of a doubt where I'm going to next should I need to upgrade my RV....

Eric
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Old 05-18-2003, 11:39 AM   #7
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Interestingly, the dealer's take on Thor and Airstream was that Thor just plans to run Airstream down to the point that the Airstream marque will be worthless and no one would ever buy one because of the poor quality. And the company would be worthless because of the poor reputation.

Another AMF-Harley Davidson story...

Is the quality of the new ones going downhill?
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Old 05-18-2003, 01:13 PM   #8
 
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What you always wanted to know about Thor, but were afraid to ask

I am not going to give my personal opinion. I just want to share with you what I have read on other forums. It seems that Thor is one of the most popular topic.

In the end, it is argued that Thor gets so may people complaining, because so many units are sold, and their customer service is generally pretty poor. It varies by dealers, but a lot of complaints come from dealing with the company itself.

Even though a lot of people are satisfied with their products, this does not excuse the many problems some have encounter. A lot of very unhappy campers out there. They are of course the most vocal, who can blame them?

Hearing from people that have had bad experiences with a particular brand is as much useful to those looking to buy, as hearing from the people that have only good things to say. Buyers need to have as much information as possible so they can make a decision, and then avoid bad surprises.

As someone said in a not too elegant way, but to the point:
"If you have had nothing but a positive experience with your trailer.... then that's great. So stop getting your feelings hurt because you own a decent product from a manufacturer that scr**ed someone else over royally. No one's implying you're an idiot who bought a piece of crap - they're just sharing their misfortune of owning a piece of crap"

The next one I like, as it confirms my idea of current product quality: "Why is it that a farmer buys a tractor to last for decades and a RV last a couple of years before it is traded off? Because the farmer demands quality and the RV buyer in general buys gingerbread"


Shamelessly stolen from other Forums, just a brief summary on Thor:

1_ "In other threads you'll see folks arguing whether Thor or Fleetwood build the worse rolling junkyards.
It seems that Thor quality is very variable depending on which Thor factory built the rig. Thor in California seems to get the most bad press"

2_ "During the past year, there have been a lot of posts about Thor Industries...... Of course, Thor has many divisions. Thor California isn't the same as Thor Industries as far as the product line goes. I think one needs to be careful before lumping all products together."

a lot of unhappy customers out there:

3_ "one of the reasons dealers or service centers fail to adequately repair our rigs is that Thor dictates the repair costs and labor hours they will reimburse. I personally fought with Thor for almost 3 years to get my rig fixed, correctly."

4_ "Product line aside, the lucky ones who have not had trouble with their Thor units have no idea what it is like to tangle with their customer service departments, warranty departments or even the president of Thor California. If I can spread the word about their condescending, not our problem, could care less about your trouble attitude and prevent one person from considering purchasing a Thor Tahoe TT I've done my job."

5_ "Thor Mirage 2800 Disaster - updated" (RV frorum - 129 posts):
".... filing against THOR CALIFORNIA for a defective product. We sent 3 letters and 4 faxes to THOR California and did not receive any replies from management personnel until we notified them we had retained an attorney."

6_ "We purchased a Cub 2000 last July. As of this date [4/26/01], we have YET to enjoy it. This is a fairly new model manufactured by Thor Industries. Our first use of it, the front and rear pull-out beds leaked. .... Had to literally mop up the water, as the rain fell outside.
It has been back to the dealership 3 times, and still not repaired. In fact, the repairs were horrendous. Have sent letters to Thor, and have not even received the first acknowledgement from them."

7_ "The entire closet inside had collasped.... Upon inspection by a local carpenter, we found that there was only one (1) screw that had hit any and all braces.... when closet had been built. We contacted Thor and they have never called us back.
... the cabinets above the recliners had collasped....there was no screws in them to hold them up at all, evidently they had placed them in place, meaning to go back and screw them in and never did. We also found none on the cabinets over the dining area or in the kitchen had any screws except 1 in one corner. "


That explains a lot about all the little "differences" we are having with our 1990. I feel better, it could be worse (?)
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Old 05-18-2003, 01:30 PM   #9
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It is amazing to me what people will tolerate when they are buying for personal amusement. You see this in vacation condos as well - people who hire the best architects and demand the best construction and materials for their homes will plunk down enormous sums for a condominium made entirely of matchsticks and promises.

Yet, I do think it is getting better, in general. Slowly, to be sure. Companies like Thor, Western RV, Monaco Coach, Fleetwood, and others cannot help but see what is happening with Wanderlodge, Prevost, and the like. I think back to 70's era Winnebagos and shudder.

But there is still far too much money to be made on quick and dirty construction, a weekend RV show, and low, low financing.

The question, "Is Thor killing Airstream?" seems to come up a lot. If so, they are doing it very slowly. Thor bought Airstream in, what, 1979 or so?

Mark
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Old 05-18-2003, 02:09 PM   #10
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a conspiracy?

I think what a lot of people fail to realize is the impact buying an Airstream has on swoopy colored graphic decals. Those Americans in the swoopy colored graphic decal industry would suffer immensely if too many Airstreams were purchased. Where would these people go? With fewer and fewer Japanese pickup trucks placing swoopy colored graphic decals on the sides, the SOB market seems to be the last place left for the intrepid small independent swoopy colored graphic decal manufacturer.
With regards to Thor however, it actually may be a conspiracy. It is entirely possible that Thor has huge stockpiles of swoopy colored graphic decals and the only way to get rid of them is to drive down Airstream market share and increase the amount of large slab sided fiberglass boxes on the road to create more swoopy colored graphic decal placement opportunities, but this remains to be proven. Thor's documentation on their current swoopy colored graphic inventory is held a closely guarded secret. Just try asking a dealer how many swoopy colored graphic decals Thor has at its headquarter. They will first treat you like you are crazy, then they will give you the run around claiming they get none of that information from Thor (I believe this is the standard reaction coming from talking points distributed to dealers from Thors' public relations department). If you don't believe in the possibility of a cover up to maintain Thors' continued attempts at maintaining a market to lower their huge swoopy colored graphic decal inventory, just try calling a dealer, and I will bet you get this same reaction.
I know, I know, some people may say the mob has swoopy colored graphic decal connections and the CIA has its fingerprints all over the swoopy colored graphic decals black markets, at least overseas, but I think that may be a little far-fetched. I think we only need to look as close as American corporations.
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Old 05-18-2003, 03:16 PM   #11
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Talking Re: a conspiracy?

Quote:
Originally posted by amfab
Thor has huge stockpiles of swoopy colored graphic decals and the only way to get rid of them is to drive down Airstream market share and increase the amount of large slab sided fiberglass boxes on the road to create more swoopy colored graphic decal placement opportunities, but this remains to be proven.
I know, I know, some people may say the mob has swoopy colored graphic decal connections and the CIA has its fingerprints all over the swoopy colored graphic decals black markets, at least overseas, but I think that may be a little far-fetched. I think we only need to look as close as American corporations.

THIS IS WONDERFUL!!!!! I'M STILL LAUGHING!!!
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Old 05-18-2003, 07:23 PM   #12
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not so fast!

i'm laughing too!

however, airstream is not exempt from swoopy graphics.

sorry for the poor quality, it is from an old brochure...

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Old 05-18-2003, 07:41 PM   #13
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AHA!
That photo PROVES how an early attempt at swoopy colored graphic decals did not work on Airstreams. For an over 30 foot trailer, that was the only place they could find for swoopy colored graphic decals?!

It was just such attempts that proved how the Airstream is not a viable way to clear the excess swoopy graphic inventory at Thor!

An exectutive decision must have been made in the fiberglass resin vapor filled back rooms at Thor. Push the SOBs! its the only way out!

You see, every where you turn, more and more evidence seems to point to a conspiracy
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Old 05-18-2003, 07:43 PM   #14
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John ~

Dont you know....they aren't just simple "swoopy graphics" anymore...they're "swoopy colored graphic decals"!



Shari
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