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Old 07-06-2022, 10:22 AM   #1
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AS Motorhomes with diesel engines

Which of the Airstream (Pre-Sprinter) were available with diesel engines? Were any smallish ones made with diesels? Been looking around online with the thought of a possible future purchase. Don't care much for gasoline engines.
Is there a resource for those interested in vintage AS motorhomes? Diesel conversions?
Been interested in these for a long time due to their low profile, simplicity and iconic look, thanks for any info.
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Old 07-06-2022, 10:42 AM   #2
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1991 25' Airstream 250
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Originally Posted by ITSNO60 View Post
Which of the Airstream (Pre-Sprinter) were available with diesel engines? Were any smallish ones made with diesels? Been looking around online with the thought of a possible future purchase. Don't care much for gasoline engines.
Is there a resource for those interested in vintage AS motorhomes? Diesel conversions?
Been interested in these for a long time due to their low profile, simplicity and iconic look, thanks for any info.
The 250s came with a 6.2L diesel option, but I think they were mainly export. I can't recall any US based diesels, but I suspect they do exist.
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Old 07-06-2022, 10:49 AM   #3
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The 250s came with a 6.2L diesel option, but I think they were mainly export. I can't recall any US based diesels, but I suspect they do exist.
Thanks, I've seen a few online like the 345 Turbo Diesel. I even saw a 1995 Classic with a 5.9 for $150K and somewhere I though I saw an old ad for a 26 footer with an Isuzu diesel but it didn't say if that was factory or a conversion, could have been a 28 footer I guess, can't locate it now.
What really interests me is the shorter ones.
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Old 07-06-2022, 10:58 AM   #4
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All of the factory diesels that I have seen are 280s and 310s, with a rare few Cummins powered 345s. You might want to read this thread: https://www.airforums.com/forums/f15...me-177404.html
I found it by searching for diesel site:air forums.com, a trick learned from BKahler, and scrolling through a bunch of posts about tow vehicles.
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Old 07-06-2022, 11:26 AM   #5
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All of the factory diesels that I have seen are 280s and 310s, with a rare few Cummins powered 345s. You might want to read this thread: https://www.airforums.com/forums/f15...me-177404.html
I found it by searching for diesel site:air forums.com, a trick learned from BKahler, and scrolling through a bunch of posts about tow vehicles.
Thanks for that link, I hadn't seen that thread yet!
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Old 07-06-2022, 07:43 PM   #6
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My 310 has a factory Isuzu diesel. The diesel was a pretty expensive option at the time so there are a lot fewer around. The Isuzu is a 6bd1a, which is actually a marine engine used in a good number of trawlers of the day. My 310 also has the optional Allison 545, 4 speed automatic transmission, another option of the time. Though there are fewer AS Classic diesels than their gas counterparts, they are out there. The Isuzu is also turbo charged.
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Old 07-07-2022, 12:08 AM   #7
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If you look at the 250s, youll see a small group of German owners pretty much all of whom have the diesel versions. Some later 1991 and up probably came with factory overdrive 4l80e. If you can pick up an old gasser you could probably put in a crate diesel If that is your preference
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Old 07-07-2022, 01:42 AM   #8
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If you look at the 250s, youll see a small group of German owners pretty much all of whom have the diesel versions. Some later 1991 and up probably came with factory overdrive 4l80e. If you can pick up an old gasser you could probably put in a crate diesel If that is your preference
If I remember correctly the European spec 250 (with diesels) were built by the special vehicles department at Airstream (who did the buses etc) not the regular motorhome production line, ie they were a special order (last 3 or so made comes to mind).

They certainly don't show on Fred's engine matrix on his ViewRVs site (http://www.viewrvs.com/motorhome/air...gine-years.php)
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Old 07-07-2022, 08:11 AM   #9
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1999 23' Safari
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Originally Posted by ITSNO60 View Post
Which of the Airstream (Pre-Sprinter) were available with diesel engines? Were any smallish ones made with diesels? Been looking around online with the thought of a possible future purchase. Don't care much for gasoline engines.

Is there a resource for those interested in vintage AS motorhomes? Diesel conversions?

Been interested in these for a long time due to their low profile, simplicity and iconic look, thanks for any info.


The Isuzu diesel option was available in the 80s.
I have a 83 turbo diesel 310 that Im doing an extensive restoration on. It has been converted to an economical 5.9 Cummins diesel.
I would highly recommend converting to the diesel.
its a complicated conversion from the Isuzu, and even more complicated converting from the 450 v-8. In my opinion its well worth the trouble if you are doing a restoration. The Cummins gets much better fuel mileage than the gas guzzling 450.
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Old 07-07-2022, 08:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by mayco View Post
My 310 has a factory Isuzu diesel. The diesel was a pretty expensive option at the time so there are a lot fewer around. The Isuzu is a 6bd1a, which is actually a marine engine used in a good number of trawlers of the day. My 310 also has the optional Allison 545, 4 speed automatic transmission, another option of the time. Though there are fewer AS Classic diesels than their gas counterparts, they are out there. The Isuzu is also turbo charged.


My 83 310 was converted from the Isuzu to 5.9 Cummins.
In my opinion..,the only way to goespecially getting rid of the gas hungry 454.
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Old 07-07-2022, 07:03 PM   #11
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Don't know if they predate the Sprinter and not small by any means but the Land Yacht 396XL and SkyDeck both were diesel pushers.


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Old 07-08-2022, 07:56 AM   #12
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Diesel Conversions

Hi I have a 1988 370 le that came with a Ford 460. I've had other motorhomes with chev 454s and they were reasonable on gas. That said I have never had a motor that could burn gas like the Ford 460..Tried a lot of things to improve gas mileage but could never get much more than 5.5 miles to the gallon. During the covid year 2020 couldn't do much traveling I did a diesel 5.9 conversion. Took a lot of work (that I did myself) and it was worth all the work. Gone from 5.5 mpg to 13.5 towing a little Honda fit. I believe that if you had to pay for the conversion it wouldn't be worth the trouble. Malcolm Peddie
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Old 07-22-2022, 04:07 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by rkgnaz View Post
The Isuzu diesel option was available in the 80s.
I have a 83 turbo diesel 310 that Im doing an extensive restoration on. It has been converted to an economical 5.9 Cummins diesel.
I would highly recommend converting to the diesel.
its a complicated conversion from the Isuzu, and even more complicated converting from the 450 v-8. In my opinion its well worth the trouble if you are doing a restoration. The Cummins gets much better fuel mileage than the gas guzzling 450.
What kind of mileage are you getting with your conversion?
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Old 07-23-2022, 12:31 PM   #14
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Hi I have a 1988 370 le that came with a Ford 460. I've had other motorhomes with chev 454s and they were reasonable on gas. That said I have never had a motor that could burn gas like the Ford 460..Tried a lot of things to improve gas mileage but could never get much more than 5.5 miles to the gallon. During the covid year 2020 couldn't do much traveling I did a diesel 5.9 conversion. Took a lot of work (that I did myself) and it was worth all the work. Gone from 5.5 mpg to 13.5 towing a little Honda fit. I believe that if you had to pay for the conversion it wouldn't be worth the trouble. Malcolm Peddie
Gee? Which 5.9 did you use?

I did my (86)345 with a 12 valve (96)Cummins/Allison (2008)T1000 6 sp and I get just over 10. But then I pull my Suzuki and can't seem to keep it under 80mph. It's still better than the 5.5mpg with the gas'er that wouldn't do 75 and wasn't worth crap after a rebuild. My biggest problem was listening to the 'experts' on how/what to do or use
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Old 07-24-2022, 12:00 AM   #15
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Both Charly and I rebuilt our Ford 460 engines and installed a highly modified E4ODE in our 370LEs over the last few years. Ive made (2) trips out to the Yellowstone area, 1 trip towing my Chevrolet Volt. I averaged 12 MPG, trip speed averaged 75 MPH. The modulated torque converter lessened the RPM 300 at the higher speeds. Regards, Bob
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Old 07-24-2022, 04:57 AM   #16
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1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
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What kind of mileage are you getting with your conversion?
My 1979 is actually a 1981 build on the 1979 chassis. Isuzu 6 cylinder Turbo with a Turbo 400/475 and an aftermarket overdrive gear vendor. The interior came disassembled, which is why I got it so cheaply, but the engine and running gear are solid. Seems like I got about 12mpg on the 900 mile run from Layfayette, Indiana, where I bought it. Going through the interior wiring maze now as nearly all the wiring harness going to the rear through the ceiling was cut where it joined up to something. Almost got it the wiring the way I want it.
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