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Old 12-06-2015, 08:07 AM   #1
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2013 30' Flying Cloud
Windsor , Ontario
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 5
First time rver: vintage vs late model???


Thanks in advance for your help. Not sure if this is in correct location on the forums or not, so please accept my apologies in advance if this is not the correct spot for this thread.

Ok so we are trying to buy our first Airstream. Further to my only other post, we are a family of 5 with 3 young girls.

We are strongly considering a two or three year old FC 30fb bunk as this layout seems to work. However it's still quite a bit of money so we are now considering restoring an older vintage 31'. We would be hiring this out and we understand you can spend as much as you want on a reno, we have a fairly realistic expectation of finishes, etc that we feel will allow us to achieve our budget. We think we could perhaps renovate an older Airstreams, put in bunks and be say 20k cheaper then a two or three year old 30fb an have something unique and interesting to share with our kids.

So very long story short: two or three year old 30fb or professional restored vintage with a goal of saving 15-20k and getting something unique, etc.

Appreciate everyone's insight and comments in advance.


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Old 12-06-2015, 08:32 AM   #2
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1992 29' Excella
2010 22' Interstate
Van By The River , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,696
Welcome to Air Forums!

Only you can answer the question about vintage vs. newer but there will be lots of comments to this thread that may give you some insight.

Let me suggest that you consider an "old" Airstream versus vintage. True vintage will potentially cost more up front than buying a late 80's or early 90's trailer.

We've seen several trailers from the 80's - 90's time frame that were easily modified to sleep from 5 - 11 people - sounds crazy I know but we know of two families that have done this.

My suggestion is a center bath, rear twin bed arrangement. The twin bed arrangement can easily be modified to include bunk beds so that will suit the girls and a friend that tags along. The front couch can easily be made comfortable for two adults.

The center bath layout allows everyone to access the bathroom without going through the other sleeping area.

Good luck!

Lucius and Danielle
1992 29' Excella Classic
1996 GMC Suburban C2500 7.4L
2005 Chevrolet Suburban K2500 8.1L
Got a cooped-up feeling, gotta get out of town, got those Airstream campin' blues...
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:13 AM   #3
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1986 31' Sovereign
Miami , Florida
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My 1986 31' Sovereign is an example of a unit that would serve well to do what you want. There is a large closest street side that could be converted to bunks with relative ease. The downside is you lose a lot of storage.

My trailer has "male pattern baldness" caused by the plasticote failing and there are some scratches and dents but it is structurally sound. You could probably find one in similar condition for ten to fifteen grand. I have no idea of the skill set of your "professional" but I imagine adding bunks would not be a Herculean task.

If you go that way, I suggest you get everything working, add the bunks, and then go camping before you make any other changes. Lots of folks get their trailer, rip it apart and then fail to ever finish it (you'll often see stripped trailers for sale) or do something that later turns out to be unworkable. If you give yourself some time camping, you will have lots of home improvement ideas.

Read this forum until your eyes water, be very patient in your purchase odyssey, and then go have fun!

new (usually dirty) Nissan Titan XD (hardly paid for)
Old (enhanced with "male pattern baldness") Sovereign
Young, lovely bride
Goofy dog, dismissive cat
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:50 AM   #4

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , Milky Way
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Thumbs up Welcome Aboard....

I would recommend the newest model year you can afford if your goal is to enjoy the Airstream experience with your three young daughters.

Vintage could very well be Honeymoon time.

Sweet Streams.....

“Not enjoying the Network News Broadcasts ?…ask your Doctor." 🤪

"The hardest thing about Airstreaming, clearing your head and accepting how others feel it’s supposed to be done"…..

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Old 12-06-2015, 11:01 AM   #5
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1986 25' Sovereign
2008 F350, 6.4L diesel , Oak Harbor, WA
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I agree with the idea of getting the new to you trailer and then trying it out. AS are easy to modify, you could likely purchase parts from Amazon to convert to bunks.

There will be plenty to learn as it is, which would likely drive your final plans. I have observed many folks bridge the sleep gap by adding a tent. You could start that way.
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Old 12-06-2015, 11:04 AM   #6
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2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
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Virginia Beach , Virginia
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Look at an older AVION too. It's a "vintage kin" and IMHO has better bones than Airtreams. I bought a used mid-1980's 10 meter (35 feet) one for $9K, and am spending less than $35K getting it professionally redone. Nothing hugely fancy, and boy the bucks are adding up fast - but way less costly than a vintage Airstream.
Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 12-06-2015, 11:31 AM   #7
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1993 29' Excella
Brighton , Ontario
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[QUOTE=nvestysly;1719853]Welcome to Air Forums!

My suggestion is a center bath, rear twin bed arrangement. The twin bed arrangement can easily be modified to include bunk beds so that will suit the girls and a friend that tags along. The front couch can easily be made comfortable for two adults.

The center bath layout allows everyone to access the bathroom without going through the other sleeping area.

Totally agree with this comment even though there's only the two of us. We just like lots of room and storage. Above all else the late 80's early 90's were built like tanks. Very little in the way of problems for our '93 29' Excella over the last 10 years. Knockin' on some wood here.
Hans Grim
1993 29' Excella
2011 GMC Sierra 2500 HD 6.0L
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Old 12-06-2015, 11:37 AM   #8
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2014 27' FB Eddie Bauer
Chelsea , Michigan
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If your primary concern is budget, then I would get the newest working Airstream that you can afford and go camping.

A restoration project is fraught with unknowns and cost overruns which your budget may not be able to handle. Most successful restoration projects are completed by do it yourselfers who approach this as a labor of love over a period of many months or even years. Those who are successful with a professional restoration company usually do not have budget constraints.
Bob Martel
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Old 12-06-2015, 11:38 AM   #9
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2007 23' Safari SE
Central , Connecticut
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A few thoughts:

- I was really happy that we cut our RVing teeth on an almost new trailer. It let us learn whether we actually liked RVing or not, without the added variables and stress of dealing with an older trailer.

- How handy are you? RVs almost always need something fixed. The chance of this goes up considerably with a vintage trailer. I know this from experience: we had a vintage Argosy that, despite considerable updates done by a professional, still managed to have a bug list after most trips. (In contrast, we've had several surprisingly reliable seasons of camping with our late-model AS, after a period of debugging.)

- Is there a style of Airstream - new or vintage - that you prefer? As much as I admire vintage trailers (and I'm frequently tempted to do it again), that runs counter to the fact that my wife and I simply prefer how the new trailers look inside and out.

Restoring vintage - done right - is a hefty investment in money and time. Look at as many trailers as possible, new and old, before making that decision.

If the budget for an almost-new Bunkhouse scares you off (fair enough!), and if you want to prioritize getting out and camping over a restoration, another option is a mid-2000s 30' bunkhouse (similar layout, but less snazzy than the newer trailer) or maybe a Safari 25SS (sleeps six).

Hope this helps.
Now: 2007 Safari SE 23' "Anne" towed by 2011 Dodge Durango "Herman"
Before: Argosy Minuet and T@B, towed by various Honda Odysseys
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Old 12-06-2015, 11:55 AM   #10
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2014 30' Classic
Princeton , Iowa
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I love our Airstream. We started with a 2000 30' Classic and moved up to a 2014 Classic. What I want to say is that the difference was great. The new is so much better. Now I am 73 and started out with nothing and can spend a little now on nice things. When I was raising my family buying a fairly new Airstream would have been a great danger to my future life, I could have done it, but it would have taken away my chance for a good retirement which I am enjoying now. So you must stay in you budget. I am an airstream man, but I know you can buy some "white boxs" out their that your family can have a lot of fun in for 1/3 the cost of an equal Airstream. Now is the time to buy.
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Old 12-06-2015, 11:57 AM   #11
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El Dorado Hills , California
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Agree with the buy newest you can afford. While I applaud the rebuild the vintage crowd I have no idea where they get the time or energy to tackle such a daunting project. I assume you work full time like I do. I'm out of the house at 7:00am returning home at 6:00pm. If errands involved getting home even later. After spending time with family in the evening and soccer etc on the weekends so forth, its hard to imagine where the time to tackle such a project would come from. Be realistic.
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Old 12-06-2015, 12:34 PM   #12
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2003 28' Safari S/O
Atlanta Burbs , Georgia
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The comments above are honest insight gained from ownership. We bought our first unit using the "the newest you can afford" approach. I highly recommend it.

There are some very nice units in the mid-$20s which should serve your initial needs and be a livable balance between repair and use time. Bouncing a 'house' behind a vehicle will always result in something failing to perform as expected so some handyman skills are necessary between trips besides regular maintenance. The fix-it item list may be small or large on any given trip, but the frequency isn't that bad for the days of bonding with your family.

Luckily, I am retired now and have the time to expand my trailer projects to customization and remodeling efforts. It takes way more time/resources to complete each upgrade than most predict and what is necessary to transition from project trailer to useful unit is inevitably more than budgeted/envisioned.
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Old 12-06-2015, 12:35 PM   #13
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a bird in the hand

Writing now as a guy who built his house (years ago) and has owned and worked on many truly vintage (1950s) trailer coaches, I gotta say: the process of having your project trailer refurbished, renovated, remodeled, remanufactured -- restored! -- is fraught with peril. Everything takes longer than estimated, everything costs more than imagined, everything is loaded with surprises -- and every bit of the process (if you have a budget) will be appallingly maddening. Sure it'll look great (hopefully) but at what emotional and financial cost?

Contrast that with buying something that fits, that works, that satisfies your needs -- and most importantly -- that actually exists, as opposed to something you (or your dollars) must create. Buy something that is close to what you want, and tackle a small remodel job if you must.
"Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands... A journey, in fact, appeals to Imagination, to Memory, to Hope,—the three sister Graces of our moral being.’
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Old 12-06-2015, 12:43 PM   #14
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1987 32' Excella
1999 33' Land Yacht
Clear Lake , Minnesota
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Very well said. I would suggest looking at the 98-2000 Excella 30-31 fts. with dinette. Wardrobe will be minimal, but there is still lots of storage. Mid 25k will buy you a reasonably nice one and well worth the investment.

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