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Old 11-22-2013, 10:33 AM   #15
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2008 27' Safari FB SE
Pfafftown , North Carolina
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Buying an Airstream on Ebay

When buying a used Airstream it takes time to understand the value proposition and sort the good from the bad.

We bought ours from an eBay seller after looking for over a year. Prior to finding our keeper, we traveled to view a number of Craigslist, Airforums classified, and eBay units that looked good in pictures and sounded good on the phone but had significant problems upon physical inspection. Each time we inspected and uncovered defects, we walked away. One thing I did learn from these aborted purchases, most of the inflated prices will come down considerably with a little negotiation on the phone. Once the defects are uncovered, the sellers are usually willing to discount further off the phone negotiated price if you are standing in front of them and are willing to buy the trailer with the now known defect.

There is also a time factor involved in these negotiations. Those testing the waters with inflated prices either quickly find an easy mark or find themselves going nowhere with an inflated price. After a few weeks they are usually willing to deal with reality and seriously negotiate a dramatic price reduction. If not, the buyer should walk.

In our case the eBay trailer met our requirements but the "buy now" price was more than we wanted to pay and a few thousand above what we thought was a fair price despite the apparent excellent condition of the unit. We looked at photos, talked to the owner by phone, and drove 554 miles to inspect the trailer. The inspection uncovered no defects. We returned home and placed a bid $13,000 under the "buy now" price. Our bid was about $3000 under what a year of looking told us was a fair price for a 3 year old trailer with minimal use (owner told us it had only been used 5 times). Our bid price, if accepted, would give us a great deal, plus allow us to spend $3000 to $5000 on potential repairs plus replace the tires and wheels.

The auction ended and we were the high bidder but hadn't met the reserve. The owner called me asking if I was still interested. I told him I was at the right price. He told me his reserve was $3000 below the "buy now" price. I told him I could go $3000 higher than my bid but that was all. He advised me he could go $2000 below the reserve but that was it. I told him I was at my limit. He thanked me and said goodbye. Two days later he called asking if I was till interested. I said yes and we made the deal at my price, subject to an inspection by the local Airstream dealer.

The seller took the trailer to the Airstream dealer. I called the dealer and made arrangements for a full inspection at my expense ($300). The dealer identified a few small issues, including a tear in the awning fabric, which the seller paid to repair. I agreed to go ahead with the purchase, bought the trailer, and picked it up.

Unfortunately, the dealer did not identify the floor rot or leaks, something I specifically asked them to look for when I agreed to pay for the inspection. On our second outing the dinette table support leg broke through the rotten floor on a three year old trailer. We took the trailer to the factory in Jackson Center where 1/3 of the plywood flooring was replaced and a number of leaks were sealed. Fortunately, Airstream had agreed to perform the work for a pre negotiated price and the price we paid for the trailer had room for repair work to be performed. In the end, after paying for the repairs, we acquired the trailer for a fair price, but not a "deal".

My advice to those buying a slightly used recent model Airstream is be patient and look at several before making an offer, do your research and get a feel for the real market price, make sure the price you end up paying allows a few thousand dollars for unexpected repairs. Have any repair work done by the factory if you can (my experience with 3 different dealers is poor, including some who get raves on this forum). Based on my poor experience with a large Airstream dealer performing an inspection, I'd say having a dealer inspection of a used trailer is a waste of money.

Enjoy camping in your Airstream. Even with the occasional maintenance issue, the lifestyle is great!

Airstream - 2008 Safari 27FB SE (Sweet Pea)
TV - 2011 Ford F250 Lariat, 6.7 Diesel, 4X4 (Brutus)
TAC FL-55 | WBCCI 3823 - Unit 12 | AIR 48265
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:16 AM   #16
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1960 26' Overlander
1963 24' Tradewind
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Originally Posted by ALANSD View Post
so what do you not like about 70s trailers? There are a lot of great ones out there. Granted they had issues, but so do most.
I personally love the 70's trailers having owned a 77 Sovereign which is suppose to be one of the worst models. I guess I got lucky as the floor and frame were in great shape although it wasn't perfect it was a great first trailer for me. I now own a sweet 78 Safari and what a great trailer. I also own a 59er Overlander and a 63 Tradewind which both need a ton of work but are considered by many to be among the best years made.
They are worth what someone will pay for them, hopefully less when we are looking to buy and more when we sell.
Just my opinion.

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Old 11-22-2013, 12:06 PM   #17
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1972 29' Ambassador
St. Paul , Minnesota
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I've got a complete '72 29' AS (slightly bent) 'parts trailer' that came off Craigslist for $1500. I meant to strip and salvage/scrap it out but have not had the heart to even remove or exchange one piece. Funny how that goes! I figure getting it off blocks and pointed down the driveway would cost someone $2000 now

The 'flagging' of Craigslist posts is a scam in its own right, people who spot a deal they're interested in can block their competition from seeing the ad.

And there are self-selected content censors who will object if you write too much information, details on condition that confuse a paint-chip eating high school drop out ARE frowned on. When I sold my 50-mpg Geo Metro the eventual buyer HAD the first copy printed it out when it existed for less than 30 minutes before flagging. Took three tries to get a posted ad-copy to live for a day. I've got no doubt the buyer, or his wife etc. flagged it. Repeatedly.

Everyone must be careful not to project or embrace stereotypes. Each Airstream is unique. If the day comes when someone is surveying my 'project trailer' for purchase and they utter 'gutted worth less' it will earn them an invite to exit the property immediately without another word.

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Old 11-22-2013, 12:10 PM   #18
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The Traveling Medicine Show

AKA: The Internet

Talk about Different Day Same Stuff... The internet has made bargain hunters of us all, but it has also allowed every honest businessman, every well-meaning idiot and every outright crook to purport to be the new internet version of the old Sears & Roebucks mail order catalog.

The rude fact is that many internet sites are completely criminal enterprises. Remember a few years back when there was a merchant in the NYC area who was at the top of many internet searches because FEEDBACK was counted, and not whether it was negative or positive. I think all of the search engines changed as a result of the news services publicly skewering that one. Using ebay or craigslist is just cheaper and faster than setting up your own website - and it is harder to catch the bad guys.

In the 1980's Sears (nee & Roebucks) reprinted one of their earliest mail order catalogs. It was fascinating to see some of the stuff they sold - especially the patent medicines like codeine and opium pills - absolutely legally. That company spent years establishing a reputation of "What you see is what you get". Why did it take years? Because to most consumers they didn't trust anything they couldn't see, feel, smell and evaluate personally

The traveling medicine show - over time killed itself - because people who bought the magic tonic realized it didn't work - and that the peddler couldn't be brought to justice for serious problems caused by the ingredients that DID work which were usually alcohol and laudanum (opium/morphine).

Today's traveling medicine show is the internet. It's almost sad that companies like Amazon exist because they give the internet buying experience a good name. It is truly the wild wild west out there when you trust ANY company on the internet. Ebay and Craigslist are the NORM not the exception.
Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:57 PM   #19
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1984 31' Excella
Springfield , Missouri
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I like looking at Craigslist.... my pet peeve is AS advertised as restored or all original and the pictures show hardwood floor and an electric refrigerator from Lowe's.

We got a 1978 Sovereign off of ebay in January 2007 with a BIN of $5,000. My wife and I drove from MO to PA to pick it up. I knew it had a soft spot in the floor --- we ended up doing a shell off, took my wife and I about 6 weeks. The trip back from Lancaster PA was quite the trip. Snow storms-- we got stuck on top of a mountain in the first whiteout we have ever been in.

Now, I know what we got and we love it. I spent about two grand not including new gas/electric dometic. Plus all my labor-- but what's time to a hog?

There are good buys out there, I like the late 70s trailers.
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:10 PM   #20
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It is much easier to shop now, on the internet, than it was 15 or 20 years ago when you had to look in the newspaper ads or go to dealer lots to find a used Airstream locally. Now that it is easier, more people from distant places are aware of and competing for the available trailers. When one finds that one trailer they are looking for, they must move fast. It's a seller's market!

When I bought my first Airstream about 25 years ago, a 1973 30', I really was not looking for an Airstream specifically. It was just dumb luck that I ran across it on a dealer's lot. Other than that first one, all of my prior Airstreams were found on the internet, a 1978 30' and a 1998 30'. I found the 25' and 34' Airstreams I own now on the internet too. I think I paid to much for the 25' since I was in a hurry to get back on the road after a wreck. I think I paid the correct amount on the 34', since I shopped for over a year until I found the one I wanted and considered the owner's price reasonable. Only time (and how much work I have to do) will tell if I am correct in my assumptions.

However, if prices continue to increase like they have recently, I might have made a good "investment" on the two I own now. I might actually get back most of my original cost, 10 or 15 years down the road when I'm to old to tow any longer. Well, I can hope
2014 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab 5.3L maximum trailering package (yes, I'm towing the 34')
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:14 PM   #21
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Houston , Texas
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I wouldn't be so quick to condemn Craigslist, Ebay, or the entire internet. They are just tools and can be used for good or evil.

Let's face it, the Airstream community is becoming a victim of its own success in returning the Airstream trailer to a position of modern hipness. The more trailers show up in commercials, movies, and TV shows, the more popular they will become, and the more in demand they will be. I am glad to see that more and more people are interested in saving these old trailers and joining the community. I do hate to see the "trailer flippers," who comb the country harvesting the "good deals," and then turning around and selling them without so much as a repainted tongue, but hey, business is business, right.
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:31 PM   #22
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Puyallup , Washington
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airstreams have a reputation for being a quality trailer - and for the most part they are. we paid $42K for a used 2012 FC19 earler this year, it was used twice, the seller took the depreciation hit
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:35 PM   #23
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1975 31' Excella 500
Ames , Iowa
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For what it's worth, there are still deals to be had. For $2500 I just picked up a 1975 Excella with brand new tires and everything except the toilet & fresh water system functioning. I have it mostly gutted and have not found anything that makes me think it was a bad deal.

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