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Old 08-31-2003, 11:33 AM   #1
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Vintage v. Recent Models

This may have been addressed before, and maybe I just need guidance in where to look...but I'm interested in exploring pluses and minuses to vintage Airstreams versus new models. I've read about some recent improvements (larger blackwater tanks and what sounds to me like sealed underparts)...and think I've read somewhere that the older models are lighter than newer ones.
Anything else that's significant about the product for someone thinking about getting started?
Don't know if it matters, but we're thinking of a smaller (20-23') trailer OR a smaller be used by two soon-to-be-retired artsy fartsy types who are clueless mechanics...but diligent about upkeep of things.

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Old 08-31-2003, 12:44 PM   #2
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Re: Vintage v. Recent Models

Originally posted by Jan be used by two soon-to-be-retired artsy fartsy types who are clueless mechanics...but diligent about upkeep of things.
Perhaps that is the most telling part. I think anyone who buys vintage should be prepared to get their hands dirty in the maintenance/upkeep of it. If you don't enjoy that sort of thing, maybe you would be just as happy with a new/newer one, which should come to you with few problems, and leave you more free time to enjoy your retirement.

You should be honest with yourself about how much you enjoy the bells and whistles. For example, I actually enjoy things like lighting my furnace, 'frige and water heater by hand, hand cranking my tounge jack, and other things that remind me I have a vintage trailer. If that sounds crazy to you, then you might be happier with the modern push-button conveniences in the newer trailers. And there's nothing wrong with that. A new Airstream is just as cool as an old one. And you can still personalize it and enjoy travelling around the country, and better than half the people who see you will think it's old anyway.


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Old 08-31-2003, 06:45 PM   #3
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One question you need to ask is how do you get around once you are where you want to be.
Pull a TT and you have the tow veh to drive around in. With a MH you will have to pull a toad (small car) to use for transportation.
Both have their merits.
I prefer the TT since a MH represents a two veh upkeep and MH breakdowns are "very" bad news on the pocketbook unless you are seasoned DIY'r.

I agree with Stefrobrts on the vintage question. A later model should require less hands on repair time. Most of us vintagers look at our AS as a "work-in-progress" when not in actual use.

Enjoy your retirement

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Old 08-31-2003, 07:44 PM   #4
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Thank you, Stephanie and Garry. What you say makes sense. I do appreciate hearing from you folks with experience.
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Old 08-31-2003, 07:55 PM   #5
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old vs. newer


newer trailers need repairs also, in the last year i have done the following on my 1992 excella:

fresh water tank drain repair

grey water tank repair

clearcoat repair

things that still need to be done:

curtain elastic replacement

furnace fan bearing

misc. maintinence wheel bearings brakes etc.

old or newer they all need something fixed sooner or later!

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Old 08-31-2003, 09:48 PM   #6
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Vintage v. Recent Models

Greetings Jan!

While a Vintage coach will likely require some extra upkeep and restoration/refurbishment, it often yields a coach with characteristics that aren't readily available in today's coaches. One of the reasons that I like my Vintage coaches so well is the wonderfully spacious rear bathrooms - - something that just has not been available for more than a decade. After a near total professional restoration of my '64 Overlander, I have nearly the cost of a new Safari of similar size in the project.

The one thing to remember with the Vintage coaches (at least pre-1974) is that they did not come with gray or wash water tanks so it is necessary to carry a portable blue tank for gray water or plan on always camping where sewer connections will be available. With some Argosys (at least the Minuet series 1977-79) even with a gray water tank you still need a portable blue tank as the shower doesn't empty into the gray tank because each (shower and gray water tank) is mounted above the floor.

If you are planning to have most of your repair work professionally done, it has been my experience that the newer coaches may be slightly less costly in the long-run. For me, it was the floorplan that was the initial factor that led me to the Vintage coach, and my history with the Overlander is such that I will likely keep it as long as I am interested in traveling.

Good luck with your decision!

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 09-01-2003, 08:19 AM   #7
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Thanks, Kevin, for the excellent advice. Appreciate it very much!
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Old 09-01-2003, 08:57 AM   #8
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Hi Jan -

Thought I would add my .02 worth.

My husband and I recently purchased a NEW model, rather than an older or vintage one. We both LOVE some of the restored models we have seen in photos online. But, our main criteria was that we wanted to take it out and USE it, as soon and as often as possible. Since neither of us has yet reached official retirement age, we do not have as much time to refurbish or repair, and wish to spend what little free time we get On The Road!!

Having said that, we DID have to take our new trailer back to our dealer right after our first trip, to have some minor items repaired. All was under warranty, and was fixed for us posthaste. We are now awaiting our next voyage, and hoping in future trips to encounter no (or very minor) further repair issues!

Whichever way you go, good luck!
Mrs Silverback
Arizona Sonoran Desert
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Old 09-01-2003, 09:41 AM   #9
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MH breakdowns are "very" bad news on the pocketbook unless you are seasoned DIY'r.
I'd like to clarify that a little. The new MH repairs can be a true burden. But we have two mid-70's Argosy MHs and are pleased with the repair costs. The big new MHs are the ones that can bite you on maintenance and repair costs.

We pay about the same to get a lube and oil change in a MH as we do in a car. The big new rigs can run upwards of $500.

And repair costs run about the same as repair costs did on our trucks that we used to tow our TTs.

We had two AS TTs before purchasing our first MH. We've been thrilled with the MH, but found a floor plan that suits our traveling style better so purchased the second MH. We are selling the first MH, but don't have a single regret about buying it.

Right now, a mid-70's TT and a mid-70's MH sell for close to the same price. We chose to not go any older than mid-70's because we don't always stay in campgrounds and didn't want to deal with the lack of a gray/wash water tank.

Good luck in your search!
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Old 09-01-2003, 10:20 AM   #10
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Hi Jan;
just to bring my 2 uro ( I'm french);

you can't get the retro look of an vintage A/S, with a new one, and it's a pleasure to work or repair this old silver bullet; there is something between my caravan and me, something like sympathie or part of my familly... So it's a strong machine, even with some decade old.

Another matter of fact opinion, the scale of prices are very different... Vintages are more accessible by most of people than a new one.

Thinking to buy an airstream like you, was one of the best moment for me ; I envy you .

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Old 09-01-2003, 10:42 AM   #11
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you have to allow for insurance, and payments when comparing the two, and decide then which allows more resources (time and money) to travel. This is a highly personal thing, where one can replace a hot water heater in 1/2 day, the other may take 2 days, but the second can make enough at his or her career to pay to have someone else do it in 1/2 day or less. Some like the new style interior, some like the 50's or 60's, I like the comprimise of the slightly inferior quality of the 70's (compared to the 50's or 60's), to get the slightly more updated conveniances (grey tank, oven, storage)

And of coarse, it depends on where you start. We started with a pickup that my wifes grandfather built a camper shell on, and that my first daughter rode home from the hospital the first time in. You dont give up an heirloom, so we had to match from there.
The Trumpowers
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1979 GMC 4 door with s/c camper shell
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Old 09-01-2003, 04:38 PM   #12
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Thumbs up it IS a highly personal choice!

We've just about run the gamut, from a '61 Bambi to our present '94 Limited 34'. In between we've had and used a '70 Safari and an '85 325 motorhome. We've also bought, with the intent to restore, but sold before we had the chance, a '77 Minuet 6 meter and a '57 Overlander.

My suggestion to you is to look until you find the coach that is "just the one" for you. It may be any vintage, and you probably won't know which one it is until you see it. It may not suit your needs for the rest of your life, but it will be the one that fits you right then. Looking at lots of coaches, both old and new will begin to give you an idea what you like and don't care for in each size and vintage.

There are lots of pluses and minuses to both vintage and new. Cost is an issue, but make sure that you're calculating the full cost of ownership of either a new, newer used, or vintage coach including annual depreciation and interest costs weighed against the cost of repairs/refurbishment. The financial end is pretty interesting when you look at the possibilties on paper before you buy.

Best of luck, and I hope you find "just the one" for you.

AIR 2053 Current: 2004 Airstream Interstate "B-Van" & 2006 Born Free 32 RQ Kodiak Chassis
Former Airstreams: 1953 Flying Cloud, 1957 Overlander, 1961 Bambi, 1970 Safari Special, 1978 Argosy Minuet, 1985 325 Moho, 1994 Limited 34' Two-door, 1994 B190 "B-Van"
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Old 09-01-2003, 09:46 PM   #13
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If you want additional information about Airstreams go to then at the searsh, inter Airstream Excessive amount of information for Airstream Lovers.
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Old 09-05-2003, 06:59 PM   #14
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vintage vs. recent models - take 2

So as not to hijack another thread...

How about comparing:

1) a newer model


2) paying 5-10k for an older model and then paying 10-20k to have it professionally refurbished and personalized...
(so maybe it could resemble a CCD or some cool retro look)


- Do such refurbishers exist?
- Is 10-20k a reasonable budget?
- How long would the refurbishing take? (3 months, 6 months, 2 years?)
- How hassle-free would ownership be at the end?

just starting to search!
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