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Old 10-19-2007, 02:54 AM   #1
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Question vintage vs. new?

hi,

i have been looking at airstreams for about a year now and finelly decided to research getting one. i love the restored/renovated vintage trailers because of there uniqueness and craftmanship. i have never owned a trailer before and so i'm thinking that a new one would be the best for the least amount of upkeep. so i have been looking at the Safari SE 20'. i like the amount of storage space and the floor plan is pretty good but, the cabinets just seem to be very flimsy sort of. when i was pulling out drawers, one came apart and the hinges seem to be a good tug away from coming off. so my question is...if you want to get a nice trailer with good quality interior work should you go Vintage or New? i just don't see myself paying 40,000 to 50,000 for a trailer which interior is poor quality. i'm hoping someone can comment and tell me that the new interior is durable and holds up to the test...or not.
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Old 10-19-2007, 03:54 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drsbeddor
hi,

i have been looking at airstreams for about a year now and finelly decided to research getting one. i love the restored/renovated vintage trailers because of there uniqueness and craftmanship. i have never owned a trailer before and so i'm thinking that a new one would be the best for the least amount of upkeep. so i have been looking at the Safari SE 20'. i like the amount of storage space and the floor plan is pretty good but, the cabinets just seem to be very flimsy sort of. when i was pulling out drawers, one came apart and the hinges seem to be a good tug away from coming off. so my question is...if you want to get a nice trailer with good quality interior work should you go Vintage or New? i just don't see myself paying 40,000 to 50,000 for a trailer which interior is poor quality. i'm hoping someone can comment and tell me that the new interior is durable and holds up to the test...or not.
You are going to find people in both camps. I happen to be a vintage person (in more ways than one ) A lot of people buy new to get the warranty. I could care less about a warranty, every time I have ever tried to have something fixed under warranty it has been a hassle for me. That includes everything from cars to laptops. I don't think the old trailer interiors are any better built than the newer ones unless you go back prior to 1969. You could probably buy an older one, have it completely restored and upgraded by a reputable restorer for about the cost of a new one. If you plan on doing the work yourself it will be a break even proposition...if you are lucky.

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Old 10-19-2007, 04:17 AM   #3
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Vintage vs. new is a debate that is sure to follow now... That is like the debate as to who is stupider, Democrats or Republicans. I too went vintage. I wanted to have a 1963 or earlier so I could have a legacy trailer. I also am a cabinet maker and can see the difference in quality of materials and methods of construction. I just like the older lines and Wally's influence in the design. If you have a budget that can afford 40- 50k, well I would think that you could buy a sweet restored trailer in mint condition. The amount of breakdown would be about the same, because both are "new". I can't think of a more fun adventure than repairing your trailer in a campground... having to find an Auto Parts Store or RV dealer in a strange town because something broke. If you are at rally and it occurs, you will have many people helping you fix it. A tragedy turns into an adventure and a social event all in one. I looked for a year and a half... went through many bad leads, had my heart broken by the trailer that got away, lost many auction on ebay, and then Anna happened. The wait was well worth it. Hope you find your dream trailer.
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Old 10-19-2007, 04:24 AM   #4
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The new ones are pretty nice looking and although there have been some issues raised about quality I believe overall the folks who buy them seem very happy with them. It doesn't matter what one buys new today be it trucks, cars, houses, anything it seems, the manufacturers are trying to build everything as inexpensively as possible to stay competitive.

I have vintage now and love it. It took a lot of work but it was a labor of love. I'm a sure you would be able to find a restored/updated Airstream for sale for a reasonable dollar - I know there are several restoration firms who do excellent work and often have them for sale on their websites. The nice thing about this is you get all or almost all of the most recent conveniences as well as a trailer that has been hand re-built with quality top of mind. You do need to make sure which ever shop you are buying from has a history of successful restorations and happy customers you can reference, and make sure you do call a few of them to discuss their thoughts on the work done on their trailer.

There are also many folks on this Forum who have a penchant for redoing trailers one at a time, they put a huge amount of effort into their projects and their efforts have been well documented and the quality of the work is clearly evident, but a few of them then want to do another and thus are willing to sell their recently finished trailer. You will find these trailers from time to time on the Forums Classifieds. As always, it's buyer beware in the fact that few if any of these trailers comes with a warranty.

As much as we love our vintage rig we believe we will eventually acquire a new or almost new Airstream in addition to our current one. There are situations where the vintage trailer, and in our case our vintage TV, make a lot of sense to use. There are other situations though where a slightly longer and wider trailer towed by our newer TV will make extended trips much more pleasurable although we will first use the Flying Cloud to determine if it will in fact suit our needs for two to three months at a time. I'm sure one or two trips will help us make that decision.

I am surprised and disappointed to learn that the quality of the new unit(s) you viewed is as bad as you suggest. That bothers me and if this is across the board with all Airstream trailers it does not bode well for their survival. That said, they are selling a ton of them and I'm wondering if, some how, you were looking at the proverbial lemon versus the larger number of them that seem well built. The ones I have toured have appeared to be well constructed although they don't "feel" as solid as my '51, but thats a subjective appraisal on my part.

Keep us posted on what you decide to do and good luck with your pursuit.

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Old 10-19-2007, 04:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drsbeddor
hi,

i have been looking at airstreams for about a year now and finelly decided to research getting one. i love the restored/renovated vintage trailers because of there uniqueness and craftmanship. i have never owned a trailer before and so i'm thinking that a new one would be the best for the least amount of upkeep. so i have been looking at the Safari SE 20'. i like the amount of storage space and the floor plan is pretty good but, the cabinets just seem to be very flimsy sort of. when i was pulling out drawers, one came apart and the hinges seem to be a good tug away from coming off. so my question is...if you want to get a nice trailer with good quality interior work should you go Vintage or New? i just don't see myself paying 40,000 to 50,000 for a trailer which interior is poor quality. i'm hoping someone can comment and tell me that the new interior is durable and holds up to the test...or not.
Hi drsbeddor;
The right answer can be found in many posts if you use [search function], but be prepared for conflicting suggestions. Because individual preferences differ, so will the recommendations. Pm "2airishuman" and ask him for copy of the post he did recently, relating to your question, that may help you considerably in your decision making. My advise to you is, take two sheets of paper write down things you are able and willing to do, and on the other sheet put down things you are not able or not willing to do. Weight out the pro's and cons and that should point you in proper direction by narrowing the field of search. This will be only a start in right direction.

You must take under consideration your finances, time frame, and ability to place the used trailer into condition which should fit your standards and expectations. Total restorations are costly and very time consuming beyond your apprehension. While newer trailers can be pretty much ready to use, each trailer will have one or more problems associated with year and model. If you are looking for simple straight forward answer you might get one after asking one thousand questions. Do not give up, there is one just right for you, and it is your job to find it. Try to remember, that if you are willing and able to put lot of TLC into good older trailer which lasted for forty years, it should last another term in good hands. Choice is yours after you do your want and do not want [to do list]. Thanks "Boatdoc"
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Old 10-19-2007, 06:44 AM   #6
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I had a vintage '76 Overlander which I sold for a larger '86 Sovereign. The interior of the Overlander wasn't as nice as the Sovereign. There was no real wood inside the Overlander, but the Sovereign has nice oak cabinets throughout. However, the exterior of the Overlander was nicer than the Sovereign. The rivets seemed nicer to me (I polished the '76 & had a personal relationship with each & every rivet!) and there were no leaks at any seams. The '86 has had to have each rivet & seam on the endcaps resealed. I think the craftsmanship on the exterior was nicer on the vintage '76, but the interior is nicer on the '86. So, whatever is more important to you is where you can start. I know alot of people have redone their interior of vintage trailers & put quality cabinets, etc. inside but not everyone has the time for that kind of project (myself included).
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Old 10-19-2007, 07:23 AM   #7
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Hi Sandra ~

Ahhhh...the age old question - vintage vs new! They each have their merits and as already mentioned, it really is a person choice. The advice already given is sound. If you are willing to pay $30-40K+ on a trailer you can get a professionally restored vintage one or pay to have one restored for you - custom.

Here are a couple of resources to help with the various vintage options should you decide that is the direction for you.

Vintage Archives
Price vs Condition
Vintage Airstream Models & Featuers

One of the advantages of "going vintage" is the uniqueness of your trailer as you will find no two exactly alike! They are just like people - each has lived it's own life and has a story to tell - and some have a few bumps, bruises and beauty marks to go along with their story!

Good luck finding which is right for you!

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Old 10-19-2007, 07:31 AM   #8
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Old 10-19-2007, 07:39 AM   #9
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Well in my HO each decade of Airstreams is by far a style in itself. From the 40 and 50's unique designs, real wood cabinets but with minimal facilities. To the 60's that bring in all the comforts of home, real wood - or veneered wood, simple cabinet designs and fun metal usages, weird looking vents and light fixtures make them the most appealing to me. However they all need substantial restoration. And in many cases to keep them "Original" it is near impossible to find all of the parts you may be missing.

Then you must consider whether to give up the comforts of "Camping" that you want - for the "vintage" look...To some looks are not everything - but to others they are - and they are both as equally as important!!! IMHO.

Looking for quality - the 70's trailer was the era of plastic - long lasting material - high durability and washability - but hmmm just not my cup of tea. But to the 70's enthusiast they are the cats meow... and that is also important as to the individual tastes - non of which is any less than your neighbours tastes...

80's brought in the beef - meaning the weight!!! and lots of it....but following the era of everything being plastic - people were hankering for some real stuff - and real stuff meant quality to some - but this is also a faulse concept...Quality is as good as the worker and the quality control manager. Level of customer expectations and acceptance.....

The 90's saw some nice electronic improvements and consistently lightening of the wood products used (shortcuts behind the scenes - but still gave the nice quality look. People wanted more width and room so they got wider and more boxy as they go into the 2000's

It should be very interesting to see where Airstream goes for it's next decade - as they have already started the return cycle of style and layouts with the Sport model 2 years before the turn of the new decade...

So getting back to Vintage vs New.......

There is only ONE solution - buy a vintage shell and restore it using all state of the art technology and appliances - but in the interior design of the 40-60's - sorry 70's & 80's - last another 20-30 years and you may become the new desire for Vintage....

This way you drive down the road with a really really cool looking rig and when camping you get to enjoy ALL the comforts of home but in a yesteryear feel.....

Sort of like the 75th Anniversay Bambi - Which by the way is the spitting image of the 1969 GlobeTrotter!!!!!! and a floor plan I have always said was the best use of space ever!!

This is what we have planned for our 61 Overlander. But then we found a little 63 GT to replace the 69 GT that we made a big mistake in selling . So now both are getting to share the parts from the 99 Excella.
Both will still tastefully retain their vintage look - with the exception of a few noted roof items like vents, AC's and Skydomes.

Now on the Vintage purist end - it is also a lot of fun - to search and install the original parts and baby the rig every time you get in her - but after a while when you want to use her too - things will break (constantly!!!) and then it becomes disheartening - so this is something you should consider. Perhaps a show piece would be nice - one that you just took to Vintage Shows to satisfy that aspect of restoration. - But it really helps to find one that is 75%+ original - or you will be spending your whole life waiting for nice things to come your way...

.....But if new is what you want - then go for it - take the loan, pay the interest and justify the annual cost as your annual vacation and what it would cost for a family of 4 to fly somewhere and stay in a hotel for 2 weeks and buy all your meals....then it is a much easier pill to swallow......

But I can not see the justification of the cost of these Airstreams today. You should be able to squeeze only so much from an icons name - but gouging really comes to mind - or is it greed....at the expense of who will buy new at all costs....or the fact that there are no others in the market - not even a close knock off - like the Avions, Silver Streaks etc - there is no other manufacturer out there - so that is where your price comes from....Price for Product Quality - no way - nada just not so...just take a look at the several Quality Control threads on a yearly basis here.....!!! and never mind that - take a look at the issues of the warrenty work that people have to have done - and the hassles many are having. Why should someone who just dropped 80K on a trailer have to either drive back to the factory or to a reputable dealer to have it fixed..........vintage vintage vintage - that would be my answer.........either original or refurbed to meet your specific needs and/or tastes....

oh gosh decisions decisions decisions
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Old 10-19-2007, 08:13 AM   #10
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I went new

I went with a new 25' Safari LS. The interior is OK, but I spent some time going around to all the hinges tightening up the hinges because they will fall off over time. They are designed to be removed easily but should not fall off. Also, My first thought when I got the AS was how hard will it be to change the cheap white formica countertop to a better quality laminate. I already replaced the dinette table with a nice custom built wood top. Other than those thing I love the new AS.
The vintage rigs are nice but I would replace all the electronics and appliances with modern stuff. Pilot lights are a pain.
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Old 10-19-2007, 08:36 AM   #11
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If you can get both your hands stuck in a vise- buy new!
If you enjoy rebuilding, designing, customising then get a fix er upper.
My 73 has chintzy inside plastic stuff, the 86 has solid wood cabinets, I'ld much rather customise my rigs.
I'm one who favors "work in progress", always changing things for the better!
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Old 10-19-2007, 08:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drsbeddor
hi,

i have been looking at airstreams for about a year now and finelly decided to research getting one. i love the restored/renovated vintage trailers because of there uniqueness and craftmanship. i have never owned a trailer before and so i'm thinking that a new one would be the best for the least amount of upkeep. so i have been looking at the Safari SE 20'. i like the amount of storage space and the floor plan is pretty good but, the cabinets just seem to be very flimsy sort of. when i was pulling out drawers, one came apart and the hinges seem to be a good tug away from coming off. so my question is...if you want to get a nice trailer with good quality interior work should you go Vintage or New? i just don't see myself paying 40,000 to 50,000 for a trailer which interior is poor quality. i'm hoping someone can comment and tell me that the new interior is durable and holds up to the test...or not.
If you like the basic trailer, i.e. size, location of bath and kitchen, amount of storage, etc., then maybe you should go new, despite the issues you've pointed out. If, on the other hand, you decide that there is a lot of room for improvement, then get a vintage unit and make it the trailer YOU want. My wife and I were looking at the 20' Safari SE and wound up with a 1972 20' Argosy instead. For us, it was the right move - we're redoing the trailer to suit our needs, and even though it's costing time, sweat, and ca$h, it's going to be perfect for US when it's done.

There are plus sides to new, not the least of which is a warranty, but if you're good with tools and have the means, vintage is a great option.
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:13 AM   #13
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Wow... so many vintage folk... thanks for reaffirming my reasons for going vintage. I do want to say that Anna has no modern systems. Everything has a pilot light and it all works on gas only. Camping is somewhat nostalgic for me and the gas appliances are much more modern than anything we had tent camping. I find my rig to be very comfortable and it more than suits all our needs. If anything I want to get an older trailer... more primative... if I could just find a copy of those $5 plans, well, I could build me a 1936.

I might be mistaken, but I think that after 1971, all the wood was actually laminate made to look like wood. My friend Jerry has 1948 and it has wood veneer on plywood cabinets just like my 1962.
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:31 AM   #14
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On paper the lightweight vintage gave me more trailer for my TV - looking back now I guess we would rather be making payments on a much smaller new trailer bought just to match my tow vehicle. Weeks go by with out me working on the 73 or the 72 donor trailer, kind of a ever deepening 'morale' depression to keep seeing how horrible previous owners treated these beauties...
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:36 AM   #15
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i'm a vintage fan BUT if i bought a more modern trailer last year, i would have been camping in it a hundred times already. since i went vintage, it's turned into a major project and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

no regrets on my end, but newer airstreams are instant gratification and vintage is more like very delayed gratification.
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:42 AM   #16
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We don't have the space or skills to redo an older airstream. I love the old ones and read the posts about the rehabs with a little envy, but a new one was the only way we could go. With the 2008, we have no major quality issues. The dealer took care of the little stuff. We use it and love it.
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:44 AM   #17
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Okay that is two that have said the same thing....if bought new you would be camping.....

What is stopping you from camping in your ongoing vintage restoration is planning and what you are willing to camp with until it is finished....

So lets lets see - with everything out of the trailer and at least the electrics working - you have one fancy tin tent - to enjoy....and if you have kids what a panic it would be having wall to wall matress on the floor - a porta potti behind the magic curtain and Mom the kitchen can be just as fun with at secured table and some key small appliances along with the BBQ.

facilities like showers come in all sorts of adventures - just check out the Poor Farmers OH and Apple Creek Facilities MI - OMG I tell you I would rather have a gallon of perfume than venture into those again - BUT hey it was an experience and did not stop me from venturing out there with an unfinished vintage rig....

Priorities fellas - get your project sorted out as to what gets you on the road safely first - and get that done - all of it... the rest can be done as individual projects until you are finished your entire project...

Sure you may have to duplicate efforts once and a while - but that is far better than NOT going camping for a weekend....

BE RESORUCEFUL FOLKS - GET BACK TO THE DAYS OF REAL CAMPING!!!!

But at least you will be off the ground nice and dry and warm!!!!
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:54 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanfood
i'm a vintage fan BUT if i bought a more modern trailer last year, i would have been camping in it a hundred times already. since i went vintage, it's turned into a major project and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

no regrets on my end, but newer airstreams are instant gratification and vintage is more like very delayed gratification.
Some of the best advice I got on the subject of restoration was to minimize the amount of time at any one time that the camper would not be usable. I think there is some truth to the statement that a lot of restorations never get finished because of the front end burden. My 68 isn't finished by any stretch, but I have been able to keep it usable. Getting out in the thing while you are restoring it helps a whole bunch.

When it comes to alterations to a vintage unit, I am of two minds I suppose. On one hand, you want to make changes to it that will make it your own. For example, I rebuilt the folding table out of wood to replace the Formica and foam job that it had. I would also like to replace the gaucho covering with leather. Neither of these are in the range of being original. Ditto on the appliances and plumbing. On the other hand, I am uncomfortable with more radical redesigns where the unit is reasonably intact. To some extent, I feel like this Airstream isn't really mine, just something I am holding in trust.

You may or may not have a similar outlook; your coach may be pristine inside, or it may be gutted, I really don't know. I do think, however, that these sorts of things are worth thinking about before you wade in with a wrecking bar.
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Old 10-19-2007, 09:55 AM   #19
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When I sold our larger Boler to focus on the Airstream it was with the commitment to Donna that no matter what, by May, we would be camping. It may not have been finished, but I would make sure it was to a point where we could sleep in it, have a toilet, and water and wash capabilities. Oh yeah, and window coverings which was part of her "things to do". That was December 12th when I picked it up and wrote down the above. Scary stuff.

I thrashed over the Christmas holidays and every night after work and most weekends. I had lots of offers from friends for assistance but I felt it was important that I do this, with Donna being the only other contributor, so that when we were done it would be "ours".

We got it almost done, and done enough that through that summer we kicked backed, camped the heck out of it, made notes of what we wanted to change and then come fall it was back at it but at a much less frenzied pace.

I'm also one who can get mired down with things for a lot of reasons, but when it came to either having it done to a point and being able to go out and enjoy ourselves, or ruminating over what to do next, the lure of the wild won out. It helped to post a few pictures of the places we were intending to camp that summer in the shop, and pictures of what we started with and progress pictures as well so we could see how it was moving along.

Redoing a vintage trailer needing more than an interior refresh or a polish and perhaps tires and brakes and basic things is not for the faint of heart as those of us who have done it, or are doing it, know. Thus, if you like vintage but want to go camping sooner than later or have other things in life that can complicate your commitment to building it out I strongly encourage you to purchase one that is already done or darned close to it. There are wonderful vintage trailers ready to use for sale and although they are not cheap, they are also often being sold for less than it would cost a person to take a shell and build it out themselves.

As Dufferin noted though, even if you buy new, eventually it too will be vintage.

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Old 10-19-2007, 10:50 AM   #20
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In the last six months Pete and I went through the same question. New or vintage... Well, we ended up buying a slightly used 2006 25' Classic. We were ready to move up to something a little larger than our 2000 Bambi. We did not have the time or the skills to do a restoration ourselves and we feared that we would select a professional restorer (and we spoke to many) that would pull us down a rabbit hole of expense. Then we found a fantastic deal on what is now our new trailer. It didn't have the twin set up in the bedroom but that we can redo ourselves, without too much expense or time. All said and done, we would have loved to have a vintage trailer but we would have had to put our trust in someone else to make it a safe, affordable, and quality restoration and we just couldn't find that person.
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