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Old 02-23-2003, 05:51 PM   #1
5 rivets, 1 loose screw
Rog0525's Avatar
1966 20' Globetrotter
Saginaw County , Michigan
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 1,555
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Restoring vintage A/s's.. for love or money?

I've been reading through the threads extensively for the better part of a year now. I see folks who are willing to spend lewd amounts of money in time and materials in restoring their vintage A/S into "like-new" condition and then I see threads from folks who want to buy a fixer-upper, and invest only what is necessary for a quick sale and profit. Then, as if there was any question
about the absolute best RV in the world, I see posts complaining about the price of new Airstreams and discrediting the lack of advertising (60% of all ever built are still in service isn't advertisement enough?)
Maybe I'm a bit naive but I've never heard of a box trailer owner considering jacking the body off his trailer to replace the floor.
So enlighten me please, when does how much become too much to pay for the absolute best in the industry and is it really fair to ask if an Airstream needs to be price competitive with any other make?
What's it all about Alfie?

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Old 02-23-2003, 06:58 PM   #2
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Talking Loaded question!


I THINK(don't know) A/S with the Safari, CCD & Int'l has address the price concerns for the "new" models. The Classic/Excella is priced high, but it's in that "upper income" price range for those who want a travel trailer instead of a 5th wheel or MH.

As far as those who buy a 50's/60's/70's model and put big bucks towards restoring them, hey that's what America's about. Restoring old vehicles and having the pride of a job well done.

As far as those who buy older A/S and put a minimal amount of money into them for a quick profit turn, hat's off to them too, as this too is truly Amercian.

So like yourself, you got a good deal on your A/S, you put in some elbow grease and you'll rip a nice profit for your time!!

I find this great all the way around-John

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Old 02-23-2003, 08:27 PM   #3
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1959 22' Caravanner
Atlanta , Georgia
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Unfortunatly we live in a jadded world. Most things are concidered disposible when they get old. As a result price is more important that over all quality. I work in an industry (Cell phones) where it is cost prohibiatve to repair the product after the warranty has expired. Why? because people think that spending $300 for a better product is rediculous.

They don't see the quality they see the price. The industry has obliged them buy making a cheaper product. They use lower qaulity components and engineer the product to make it beyond it's warranty and no more.

Campers are no different, Yes there are some quality products out there but most people again shop by price and when they loose interest it sits and doesn't get it's general mantance and they rot back into the earth. Some people understand with quality comes price. I ran accross some information for original purchace price of these older units. Our 59 went for something like $2700. THAT was very expensive for that time. I have a 1970 Pontiac LeMans Sport convertible sitting in my Garage and I have the original bill of sale and it was less than $4k.

I have a 43 year old camper sitting in my driveway now. The quality was there and it survived as a result. I haven't decided if I'm crazy or what but I respect anything that can come through that many years of contiuous use and still be in one peice.

I'm probably nuts but I'm about to do some major floor repair and it could very well lead to having to pull the body off the frame...still don't know. My wife inherited this camper so at this p[oint I have nothing in it. I'm aboug to go through many hundreds of hours of my spare time to do this. Finacially it's not really all that bad. enough marine grade ply wood to cover about 8x19ft of frame. I'm going to go a few extra steps and try to do some stuff to prevent this from ever getting this bad again.

I figure by the time I'm ready for the road I'll dump $1k into it but I'll end up with something that not many people will ever have and that's a very unique camper. Old people will see it and remeber when they were new and smile at the good times they had back then. Young kids will look at it and wonder what it is and where it came from and want to see it.

I'm not going for a "Restore" where I'm too affraid to use it and loosing my temper with my kids when they put a nick in the cabinets. I'm also not looking to update it with the latests things. I am going to update stuff. I'll rewire anything that looks questionable. I'll put a bigger inverter in it. I'll put a better battery charger in it. Most of it for safety, some of it for convinence.

Over all I want it to appear original. Hell my wife has made me promis to leave this junky old 8 track player in it because she remebers the good times when she was young and having that old peice of junk stereo playing in the back ground. Course I will hide a CD player in the wardrobe.

When my time comes to leave I hope to pass it down to my kids. They will see that 8 track and think of their mom. They will think of the CD and think of me. They will see that nick they put in the cabinette and think of the good times when they were young. I hope they will then want to keep it and use it and make some memories with thier kids in a 80+ year old camper.

If it hadn't been a quality product and I didn't have a screw loose that wouldn't be possible.
1959 22' Caravanner
1988 R20 454 Suburban.
Atlanta, GA
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Old 02-23-2003, 09:58 PM   #4
5 rivets, 1 loose screw
Rog0525's Avatar
1966 20' Globetrotter
Saginaw County , Michigan
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 1,555
Images: 11
TY for replies

So gathered from the answers thus far, It's about pride and quality. Something you can put money into and not feel it was squandered, a piece of American quality and workmanship you can take pride in and pass on to your kids and their kids.
So should the Thor/A/S folks feel pressured into competing with the boxes and knock-offs? I think not. And yes John, I was fortunate in finding one of these gems at a good price and may make a few bucks when it sells, but only because I spent a lot of time looking for an Airstream and will reinvest the money into a smaller one if mine sells.
Maybe I'm from the old school, the one where building a better mousetrap will have the world beat a path to your door.
Maybe Rolls Royce and Harley Davidson should mass advertise and mass produce their machines even if the quality has to be diminished.
Maybe my Zippo lighter with it's lifetime guarantee was a bad investment compared to the new disposables.
Geez, I hope not.
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Old 02-24-2003, 07:36 AM   #5
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1955 30' Liner Commodore Vanderbilt
Wayne County , Michigan
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When I questioned about the lack of Airstreams at shows it was from an appreciation of a fine product. We went to the show to see the new A/S's and were bummed from not being able to ADMIRE one. We too have spent A LOT of time and money in looking and traveling to find the right trailer. (How many people travel across the country to look at buying an SOB?) We have a nice original unit that we value and understand the amount of care that went into maintaining it so well. It is not going anywhere if I can help it! We like it so much we are dreaming of someday being able to buy a new unit. To tell you the truth, I cringe somewhat, when I see car advertisements or whatever with an A/S in it. I don't want the A/S to become something that is to be cashed in on, made cheap or whatever. It is a trailer that was designed to be used EVERYWHERE, not like todays SOB shoeboxes. I agree that they are American icons and family heirlooms. My 83 year old Dad is almost more excited about our trailer than we are. He wanted one, 5 kids prevented him from getting one, but he is ecstatic and proud thay we "got one." Our kids draw them, build homemade models of them and can name off the different models. My wife and I stay up at night talking of how we are going to "enjoy" camping in our A/S and what we would like to see. I guess you could say that we are in it "for the love of 'em." I apologize for babbling, these things are a few of the last, true "American" products we have, I value that.
Jason & Veronica J.
S.E. Michigan
1955 Commodore Vanderbilt 30'
TAC Member MI-6
2008 Chevy Silverado Ext. Z71 w3.73
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