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Old 07-24-2005, 10:34 AM   #1
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Why Buy a Bambi?

My wife and I have been visiting Airstream dealers during our travels in search of a new travel trailer. We even took a factory tour this summer at Jackson Center, Ohio. My problem is, the more we look the LESS my wife likes Airstreams.

We have a very nice 19' Mallard with the same floorplan as the 19' Bambi. It is still like brand new and paid for! My wife points out that the Bambi has less counter space, less cupboards, only a single sink, much smaller refrigerator with single door rather than separate freezer, smaller vanity, tighter bathroom, fewer windows, only single axle, and here's the clincher: SMALL 48" bed with the corner cut away as opposed to our Mallard full size double.

On top of this, I read on this forum about the many quality issues experienced by Airstream buyers. There has never been a single thing wrong with our Mallard and it cost much less than a new AS.

We started the summer intent on buying an Airstream, but now are having serious second thoughts. I need some convincing to sell a perfectly nice TT and take on a $20K debt for a new trailer with possibly a long list of factory defects. My DW is thinking we will just pay MORE and get LESS than what we already have.

Help me out here!
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Old 07-24-2005, 10:42 AM   #2
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Here are some comparisons.

Most sports cars dont have a lot of trunk space and cannot tow anything.
Harley Motorcycles dont handle as well as Honda sportbikes
4x4 trucks dont get as good of gas mileage as economy cars.
Etc...

Some people buy what they want even though logic says there are better choices.

For some there is no other travel trailer other then an Airstream.

That is where the saying "To each their own" comes from.
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Old 07-24-2005, 10:54 AM   #3
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I like your analogies. Thinking back a few years, my wife never really liked the new Mustang I bought for her. Trunk was too small for groceries and I admit it was tough getting two little ones in and out of the backseat. But it was a cool looking car!

I feel the intrinsic value of owning an AS, but my wife is very practical (she thinks wiser!)
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Old 07-24-2005, 11:01 AM   #4
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Maybe it's a style thing... Look at some CCDs. She may love the sleeker interiors. CHeck out the new 75th anniversary models as well - they have done some interesting stuff to the interiors. Remember that you'll have your airstream forever - you can afford to pay more.
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Old 07-24-2005, 11:28 AM   #5
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Why a Bambi

IMHO the difference is one of culture. If all you want to do is go camping in a nondescript rectangular white box, then keep the trailer you have and be happy with it. But, if you want to buy into the Airstream culture/lifestyle where you join the WBCCI, go to rallies, and go Airstreaming with friends, then get the Bambi.

If the price tag is an issue, find a good used Airstream or better yet get a vintage unit. The initial cost is more easily absorbed and you get all of the intrinsic value.

In any case, you get more than a trailer. You get pride in ownership, you get treasure that you will pass on to your heirs. The first time someone stops you at a gas station and starts asking about your unit, telling you that they always wanted one or had one and wish they had not gotten rid of it, or a hundred other topics relating to the Airstream, you will begin to appreciate that Airstream ownership is more that just going camping.


That's just my opinion... I could be wrong.
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Old 07-24-2005, 11:34 AM   #6
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Why Buy a Bambi?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Duck
My wife and I have been visiting Airstream dealers during our travels in search of a new travel trailer. We even took a factory tour this summer at Jackson Center, Ohio. My problem is, the more we look the LESS my wife likes Airstreams.

We have a very nice 19' Mallard with the same floorplan as the 19' Bambi. It is still like brand new and paid for! My wife points out that the Bambi has less counter space, less cupboards, only a single sink, much smaller refrigerator with single door rather than separate freezer, smaller vanity, tighter bathroom, fewer windows, only single axle, and here's the clincher: SMALL 48" bed with the corner cut away as opposed to our Mallard full size double.

On top of this, I read on this forum about the many quality issues experienced by Airstream buyers. There has never been a single thing wrong with our Mallard and it cost much less than a new AS.

We started the summer intent on buying an Airstream, but now are having serious second thoughts. I need some convincing to sell a perfectly nice TT and take on a $20K debt for a new trailer with possibly a long list of factory defects. My DW is thinking we will just pay MORE and get LESS than what we already have.

Help me out here!
There are as many varied reasons for choosing Airstream as there are owners, and mine included:
  1. The WBCCI (Wally Byam Caravan Club International). While there are members of this Forum who do not like the WBCCI, I find the Club to be like a second family and the annual International Rally to be a wonderful Family Reunion. In addition, there are numerous Intra-Clubs reflecting many different interests as well as Unit, Regional and National activities that permit one to be as involved as time and desire warrants. I have yet to attend a Rally or participate in a Caravan that wasn't a wonderful experience. This is something that I never found when I owned my Nomad.
  2. Durability of the coach. My 1980 Nomad that I purchased new was basically worn out after less than 10 years - - my '78 Minuet is still going strong with relatively minor repairs and refurbishment over time (I purchased this coach from its first owner about four years ago). My '64 Overlander still has over 95% of its original floor and is entirely reliable for extended, long-distance vacations. I know of several owners who still have coaches that they purchased thirty or more years ago.
  3. I will admit to being drawn toward vehicles that are stand out as being unique in some way, and to me, the Airstream is one of the most recognizable RVs on the road.
  4. Easy towing characteristics. While my experience is with Vintage coaches that are 25-years-old or older, I was sold on the ease of towability the first time that I towed my '64 Overlander in 1995. My 1980 Nomad was pushed around by even the slightest gust of wind and every semi was a new experience in "bad-manners" by the trailer (this was with a Reese Friction Sway Control). Even with the basic Reese weight distributing hitch, the Overlander was extremely well-behaved (less than 90-days after purchase, I had the Overlander Equipped with the Dual Cam Sway Control as a little additional insurance).
  5. Even after decades of use, I have found my coaches to be comfortable, pleasant traveling companinions; and I have no reservations about taking either one out on the road for extended road-trips covering thousands of miles over several weeks (or even months).

The one suggestion that I might make would be to consider your dealer carefully. There are many dealers out there, and some are much more responsive to their customers than others. Price is important, but so too is service after the sale; a dealer with a strong-customer-service orientation will likely be much more interested in working to solve problems that may develop. As a Vintage owner who is not a Do-It-Yourselfer, I learned very quickly which dealers in my area (within 500 miles) were responsive to their customers as I searched for one who would be comfortable with performing repairs on my '64 Overlander (when it was over 30 years-old) -- if I were to purchase a new coach, I would focus my search with these dealers even if their prices were a bit higher than the "typical" reported pricing because they have reputations for excellent service and repairs.

Good luck with your research and decision!

Kevin

P.S.: I will be linking up with WBCCI/VAC friends for a trip to Colorado later this week, and their '60 Overlander has seen their family through four generations -- their children (9 months and 3 years) are the fourth generation of their family to camp in the '60 Overlander. My Overlander happened to be owned by friends of my family when it was new, and I went on my first camping trip in it when it was brand new and I was five years old.
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Old 07-24-2005, 11:47 AM   #7
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If your horizon is just the next couple of years and occasional RV outings, the Mallard is probably the way to go.

If your horizon goes out ten years or more or you are planning spending a good deal of time with your RV on the road, the Airstream starts to make more sense.

The social aspects are also a factor. There are other RV groups that have gatherings and caravans but I don't know how they compare to WBCCI. As with any social group, that probably depends more upon interests and friendships and what you are willing to do to participate.

Depecriation is something I also wonder about with the newer Airstreams. I know that the seventies and earlier Airstreams depcreciation has been about the same as inflation so they often sell for a dollar value very close to their original sales price. The eighties and later Airstreams do not seem to exhibit this value, though.

The size factor is also an issue. It does not seem that length is the best way to get a good comparison between an Airstream and SOB. GVWR might be better. Or consider, say, a 22 or 24 foot Airstream to compare to an 18 or 19 foot SOB. The Airstream, while longer and maybe a bit heavier will still tow and handle better. This is why being on the road, rather than spending all your time sitting in camp, puts the Airstream up a notch in considerations.
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Old 07-24-2005, 11:55 AM   #8
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Three reasons

1) It's the last RV you'll ever need to buy, and you can hand it down to your kids who will also never need to buy another RV

2) It's cool and iconic, you'll meet new folks everywhere you go who just want a peek

3) Airstream parties rock!

If that doesn't do it, then enjoy your white box!
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Old 07-24-2005, 12:20 PM   #9
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Cool I was just in Cuyahoga Falls/Akron

Others have said it well - it's style and long life expectancy. No point in my repeating what they've already said so well.

If you want a "cabin" that you can tow to one or two different campgrounds a year, then DO stick with what you have. If you want a TRAVEL trailer it's a different matter entirely. I expect to put 5K to 10K on the road yearly in my Airstream 22 ft CCD. If you want to "get away from it all" why have a big square box that invites you to take more junk with you?

I'm SOB friendly. I've always believed that there are three kinds of RV'ers - Airstream owners, FUTURE Airstream owners, and people who try RV'ing for a few trips then abandon it. I hate to see how many RV's there are sitting in yards, fields and barns slowly rotting away, so if you aren't sure you are dedicated to the lifestyle, stay with what you've got for a while. Next time I'm headed to the Akron area I'll post where I'll be staying (probably Cherokee on RT 43 between 225 and US 76). If you'd like to meet, I'll let you see what towing an A/S is all about. Meanwhile find a WBCCI unit and visit a rally or meeting with your lovely wife.

I'm full-timing in my 22 CCD, and I wouldn't recommend going smaller for a couple if long trips are part of your plan. But again, some of us just sleep in our RV's and some entertain more, etc. I'd think a 16' or 19' could get pretty cramped if it rained for 3 days.

Some of my compadres mentioned looking for a vintage unit. If you're handy and have the time, it's a great way to go. I'll point you toward two that you could probably get for a song. (Start at $300). I nearly cried when my sister and I went out driving in the far north east part of Ohio - we saw a fishing camp with TWO vintage units, on an Argosy, about 24' - 26' long and the other looked like an old 7 panel Airstream, probably 20' long. Both had screen porches added (hopefully NOT nailed on) and probably haven't been moved in 10 years. If anyone else wants to find these, they are on the north-south highway that skirts Mosquito Lake reservoir on the western side. It's called "Hoagland Blackstub Rd." and we were somewhere north of West Mecca (intersection of Rt 88), possibly close to where the road crosses the reservoir. There was a big truck behind us so we couldn't stop and gawk.

Also spotted a "Squarestream" north of Hiram and stopped to talk to the owner. It looks to be in good shape and he was very interested in hearing about this forum. His niece is computer literate so he said she'd be getting on the web for him.

Oh, and look at a Squarestream if you can find one - they do have a lot more "stowing" capacity. Avions of the 80's vintage are also a bit more square than the Airstream, so that may be an option too.

Good luck, Tin Lizzie
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Old 07-24-2005, 12:32 PM   #10
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The Duck:

Doesn't sound like its you that needs the convincing - bottom line is - if your wife can't support the decision (with enthusiasm) then you need to find a way to enjoy your Mallard over the long term - then again - camping solo in a Bambi isn't a bad way to go - the 48 inch bed becomes pretty big when there is only one in it!!

Good Luck.


Jay
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Old 07-24-2005, 01:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerJay
The Duck:

Doesn't sound like its you that needs the convincing - bottom line is - if your wife can't support the decision (with enthusiasm) then you need to find a way to enjoy your Mallard over the long term - then again - camping solo in a Bambi isn't a bad way to go - the 48 inch bed becomes pretty big when there is only one in it!!

Good Luck.


Jay
Thanks to everyone for the replies. I'm ready to buy! Ranger Jay probably has the most "practical" advice (Ha Ha) but there will always be at least two in the 48" bed- we have a little dog that loves camping, and I know it would prefer an AS, so the family vote is 2 to 1 in favor of an AS!

We're looking at another 15 to 20 good years of camping and trips, so I believe the AS is a sensible long-term investment. Will keep working on "The Boss."

Tin Lizzie, have a great trip to Ohio.
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Old 07-24-2005, 01:20 PM   #12
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Suggestion:

Find an airstream rally in your area and attend as a guest - might just do the trick. You will be able to take tours and gather opinions from users!
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Old 07-24-2005, 06:13 PM   #13
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Do you NEED to ask?????

If you don't feel it in your gut already than don't do it! Owning an Airstream is owning a small part of history,it's not just a trailer........
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Old 07-24-2005, 06:56 PM   #14
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Post Airstreamers have more fun...honest!

Everyone here has given great reasons for buying an airstream. I'd like to add that this forum in particular is very supportive of new folks and has lots of great information about any aspect of camping/airstreaming that might come up. Hope that you will find a unit that appeals to both of you!
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