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Old 03-01-2003, 03:45 PM   #1
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Smile New vs used??

Greetings everyone! My wife and I are investigating the Airstream as we have grown tired of the "white box" TT's! We are wondering about the quality and longevity of a new AS vs the vintage AS. What is the forum consensus about the new (2001 and up) Airstreams?

We are considering something around 25' to tow with our 2001 Tahoe (with Trailer package, 3:73 rear). We have a 28' white box now and use the Hensley Arrow. Nothing wrong with the white box; we just don't see it lasting 20 years - plus the wind resistance is a real issue as gas prices continue to go up! (I might as well attach a parachute to my truck to equal the wind resistance from the front of the white box!)

Our local dealer seems quite impressed with the quality, but then again, he's trying to sell them!

Anxious for your input!

Doug in Colorado

Doug in Colorado
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Old 03-01-2003, 03:57 PM   #2
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After almost 3 years of looking for a good used Safari 25C we finally bit the bullet and ordered a 2003. We only found 2 trailers in that time frame and both of them would have required some work to adapt them to our tastes/likes. Hence the new order. Now only 7 weeks to go until it is delivered.

I have read comments that the new trailers are not the same standards as the old/vintage trailers, but they are IMHO heads and shoulders over the SOBs out there.

Whatever you end up with I am sure you will be pleased.


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Old 03-01-2003, 04:55 PM   #3
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Greetings Doug!

There isn't a tremendous quality difference among the various vintages of Airstreams; rather an evolutionary change of function and style (IMHO). The biggest issue to assess with a Vintage unit is its previous maintenance history - - a well maintained coach maintains its quality while a poorly maintained coach can quickly become an albatross for its owner. A point that often can be overlooked is just how much time (or money) one wants to put into the restoration/refurbishment of a Vintage coach. From personal experience, as a non-do-it-yourselfer, the cost of restoration/refurbishment will soon approach the cost of a similarly sized late model Airstream - - the total restoration cost on my '64 Overlander was just short of $25,750 not including the original purchase price of the coach. You might ask whether I am sorry that I went through with the restoration - - the answer is a resounding NO - - the coach was exactly what I wanted and the cost of the restoration was about what I expected - - a side factor was that this was the coach that I first went camping in as a five year old when the Overlander was new and owned by friend's of my family.

My suggestion would be to look at a number of coaches including new, late model, and representatives of the Vintage coaches to get a feel for the aesthetic differences. You may find that the newer coaches requiring less in the way of restoration/refurbishment will better suit your lifestyle; then again, you might find that Vintage coach that is "just calling your name".

There are some very nice vintage coaches out there that have been well maintained by caring owners that would require little to be roadworthy and camp-ready; but with a vintage coach you need to be prepared for the likely system failures due to age/use that wouldn't necessarily be an immediate concern with a late model coach. It is also possible to find a fully restored coach offered for sale as well; but the prices asked usually reflect the amount of work and materials necessary for the refurbishment.

A little firsthand research should help you to identify the best answer to the question of Vintage or late model that will best suit your lifestyle and needs.

Just as an example, this is my '64 Overlander before its restoration refurbishment was completed:

This is a photo taken after the restoration was completed:

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 03-01-2003, 05:09 PM   #4
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I personally think the 25' is an excellent size. But then, I have a '87 25' Sovereign. We tow with a 1/2 ton Chevy pickup with the 6.5 diesel and 3.73 gearing. It is... adequate.

You will want to check the weight of your Thor against the 25' Safari and Classic to get an idea of how they will tow compared to your current trailer. I think the Classic is really nice, but I don't think I'd want to tow one without more truck and gearing. My '87 is more in line with the Safari on weight. Aside from weight, the Airstream will tow much, much easier at highway speeds than your white box. That stuff about aerodynamic shape is not just marketing. And the shape is not all - they are very clean aerodynamically underneath as well.

Overlander64 makes some really good points. And it does seem that 25' units are hard to find on the used market. Surely that will start to change with the success of the Safari.

Nothing as complex as a travel trailer is ever going to be problem free, but there is very little to choose from across the model years as reguards quality. In my opinion. Keeping in mind that there is zero chance of me buying a late model anytime soon. Different features, to be sure. Trade offs, to be sure, but in actual overall quality, it is hard to make the case that years XXXX to XXXX were somehow significantly better or worse.

To say that the vintage units were no better built is fight'n words in many quaters, and I don't want to fight. I also think it comes down to personal preferences. Yes, I'd like the thicker aluminum that will take a high polish, but then, I insist on a gray water tank and a rear bedroom. To aficianados, the 60s interiors are spare, and clean. To me they look like, well, lets just say I do not find it appealing and leave it at that. Yes, there have been some real mistakes made in recent years - the sagging headliners from the late 90s, eg, but what about the cracked interior endcaps for all of us 80s model owers? What about tail droop from the 70s? What about the polybutylene fiasco? Then there are 60s models with their $500 replacement door locks (although that is not really a quality problem).

It seems to me that you have to look at what issues are important to you, because you are the one that has to live with it. This forum is undoubtedly the best place to do that research.

In 2023, people will be on this forum, or one like it, discussing their 2003 Airstream. Few, if any, other makes will be able to say the same.

Waiting to stand corrected,

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Old 03-02-2003, 06:07 AM   #5
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New vs. Used??

I agree with Mark about the reasons to get a newer Airstream. Rear Bedroom, Not rear bath which caused rear sag, nicer cabinetry, modern wiring and plumbing, etc. Also, restoring a vintage Airstream isn't for everybody. It requires dedication and work, not to mention bucks. I get the feeling that you want something that you can pull now and enjoy.

Retail price on a new 25' Classic will be about 50,000, and a Safari about 37,000. Don't worry about pulling it with a Tahoe. Before I got my 8.1 L Chevy I pulled with a small V8 F150. Gas mileage sucked but it pulled it fine. Using a Hensley as you do winds will be less of a problem.

This should be on the classified pages, I know, and may show up there soon, but we are thinking about trading our 25' Classic for a 30' unit. We may sell instead of trading. It is a 1998 queen bed and is in showroom condition with Factory installed rear and road awnings. Let me know if you might be interested.
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Old 03-02-2003, 06:59 AM   #6
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Palm Bay , Florida
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There are two Airstream campgrounds here in Melbourne Florida

Land Yacht Port O' Call

1300 Airport Blvd.
Melbourne, FL 32901
321-723-3604 or 800-982-0255

Port O' Call is being closed down for airport expansion. I don't know when exactly but there are bound to be some excellent deals on used Airstreams. I would assume that many of the owners will sell rather than move their trailer.


Land Yacht Harbor of Melbourne
201 N John Rodes Blvd, Melbourne Fl 32934
Vic Smith
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31' 78 Airstream Excella 500
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Old 03-04-2003, 08:14 AM   #7
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You can find the best deals purely price-wise on 70's models. Lots of units on the market, and it is the buyer's market at this point.

But IMO in terms of overall value, the best models are from 1980's: 1981-1989. Ultimately, this is what I was looking for.

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