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Old 12-27-2008, 07:12 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1996 25' Excella
Waco , Texas
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 21
1981 International Lengths???

I just bought this off Ebay:

eBay Motors: 1981 Airstream International Argosy (item 320326694268 end time Dec-27-08 15:15:18 PST)

and clearly the seller didn't know alot about the trailer, he is an estate broker. He had it listed as a 25' trailer but the letter L in the seventh position would indicate that it is bigger than this (27-28 feet). So my questions for the forum are:

How big do you think this trailer is (27 or 28 feet)? and or what are the known legnths that Airstream made in 1981?

and second: I kind of had my mind made up that I didn't want to go any bigger than 25 feet as my family only consists of me, my wife, a new baby (6 months) and a dog. In the grand scheme of things is 27' or 28' noticeably bigger than their 25' siblings? Additionally are trailers this sized substantially harder harder to back, tow etc... than the smaller ones (25' and below)? or will I probably end up appreciating the extra length in the end?

Finally smaller airstreams seem to hold their value better than the bigger ones, do you think the resale value of a trailer this size will remain stable in the future?

Thanks for all of your help on this my first post.
Waco, TX

2006 Dodge Mega Cab 2500 4x4 Turbo Diesel
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Old 12-27-2008, 08:33 PM   #2
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2005 22' Safari
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Pictures and a VIN would help.
Fr. Guido

"We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another." Jonathan Swift
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Old 12-27-2008, 08:56 PM   #3
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1996 25' Excella
Waco , Texas
Join Date: Nov 2008
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Here is the VIN: 1STDBAL2XBJ500311

Sorry about the faulty link.
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Old 12-27-2008, 09:39 PM   #4
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1981 International Lengths???

Greetings Bearstream1!

Welcome to the Forums!

In 1981, Airstream lists International series trailers in 20' through 31' lengths. My suspicion is that your rig is 27' -- what would have been called an Overlander a few years earlier. It is among my favorite coaches:
  • Any of the tandem axle trailers will be a bit easier to back than the single axle versions -- single axle coaches react much more quickly to steering inputs of the tow vehicle.
  • To me, it is an ideal coach that a young family can "grow" into.
    • The front living area is a nice compromise between space and towability.
    • When converted for dining there is enough table space for four to six people with use of folding chairs.
    • There is enough separation of sleeping areas that parents and children have a modicum of privacy.
    • In the typical floorplan, there is adequate if not ample storage space for the toys, etc. that are a pre-requisite when traveling with young children.
  • The increase of expectations between a 25' and a 27' coach are not terribly great -- typically there would generall be around 800 pounds more overall total towed weight for a loaded 25' compared toa 27' -- and this can be controlled to a degree by careful packing.
  • When I tow my Overlander with my Cadillac Edlorado, there is a noticeable difference between the performance with my 6.0 Metre Minuet -- most of the difference can be attributed to the 2.70 final drive in the Cadillac. The difference between towing the Overlander with my Suburban compared to the 6.0 Metre Minuet is insignificant -- the biggest difference is that the Overlander takes a bit more fuel to tow -- 10 MPG compared to 12 MPG for the Minuet (both towed at a steady 55 MPH).
  • Towing the Overlander is a pleasure compared to most of my earlier experiences with box coaches -- it is easy to maneuver under all conditions, and I have yet to encounter a park where I couldn't fit it into a space -- sometime it has meant parking the tow vehicle away from the spot itself (but this is rare).
Good luck with your deliberations!

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 12-27-2008, 09:56 PM   #5
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1996 25' Excella
Waco , Texas
Join Date: Nov 2008
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Thanks for the help. I actually think the extra length might be nice. It has twin gaucho couches too which I like so I think it will be a good fit.

I thought alot about the advantages and disadvantages of rear twins vs. twin gauchos and it was a close call but I think the twin gauchos will be great for entertaining and as most of our trips will be between a weekend a week that the relative inconvenience of unfolding couches into beds won't be that bad.

We're going to do a final look over on Monday morning and if all goes well, we will drag it back and then take it on its first trip next week as my wife and I are on vacation.

Also the wood interior reminds me of a ski lodge which I like.

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Old 12-27-2008, 09:58 PM   #6
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I saw that trailer on EBAY, and it's definately bigger than 25'. There are lots of sellers of Airstreams, especially on EBAY, that list trailers as being smaller than they actually are to get more buyers interested. Then the question is, if they don't know what size it is, what else that they have commented on do they not know what they are talking about.

EBAY is a great place to sell something because you know out of the people that looked at the deal, you received the most money those people will pay. The same reason makes it a bad place to buy something, IMHO unless you really know what you are bidding on.

In '81 Airstream made 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, and 31' trailers.
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Old 12-27-2008, 10:18 PM   #7
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1996 25' Excella
Waco , Texas
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 21
Thanks Steve, I have a fair amount of ebay experience as both a seller (mostly of premium cycling equipment) and a buyer and I have definently found that it is a sellers market for the most part. However in this economy many premium items out there such as high end bikes etc... are tending to go for very low prices making ebay prices shift toward the buyer in many instances.

Historically in virtually any ebay category mislisted items can often result in a reduced number of buyers and thus the sellers mistake can result in the buyers reward. I knew the trailer was mislisted and felt the price was right and so I put in a bid. The additional benefit of a misrepresented item is that the buyer (me in this case) essentially has a valid argument to back out of the deal if the item is grossly misrepresented. The buyer did list the vin in the description and anyone could have simply looked at the 7th letter of the vin to know the true length of the trailer to be between 27 and 28 feet.

I feel good about the price I paid and if everything else in the trailer's description proves to be accurate I'll be happy with my purchase. I'll keep you posted after I go see it.
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Old 12-27-2008, 10:21 PM   #8
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Kevin is right on.

This gives the following detail:

1ST - Airstream travel trailer [not Argosy]
D - Center bath, center kitchen, triple slide [triple slide?]
B - Classic [or it designates classic after 4/4/01?]
A - Narrow body 96" [102" body applies to > 22' Airstreams after end of '93 model year]
L - 27' to less than 28'
2 - double axle
X - Check digit
B - 1981
J - Jackson Center, OH, manufacture
500311 - sequential production number

Sadly your unit arrived one year after R.J. Dial's excellent documentation cuts off - Vintage Airstream Photo Archives. His last example and photos are for 1979 in this length.

5 meter Langford Nahanni

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Old 01-01-2016, 02:36 PM   #9
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1974 27' Overlander
1975 31' Sovereign
1965 26' Overlander
Charlotte , North Carolina
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 35
We have a 1974 27' Overlander,center bath,rear double. I have been told this floor plan is somewhat uncommon, has anyone seen this layout before? The guys at Out Of Doors Mart said they only made a few of this model. The bed can be tight for 2 due to the curve but it is a great unit, fully restored original.
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