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Old 05-19-2014, 06:54 AM   #1
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Roddyy's Avatar
1982 28' Airstream 280
Grantsburg , Wisconsin
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 54
Excella RV with Isuzu diesel

Hi, I'm new to the forum. I just discovered that Airstream built the Excella RV with Isuzu diesel engine in the late 70's and early 80's. I'm not sure how many years they were built and how many platforms other than the 28 footer. I'd really like to buy one in great shape, and I would also like to find out about the entire model line if possible. Can anyone lead me in the right direction? Thanks.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:16 AM   #2
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1994 36' Classic 36 Diesel
Colorado Springs , Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 882
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Airstream also put Cummins engines in the classic Mohos as well. There are some people who have even added the venerable 7.3L PSD. Sometimes you get lucky, other times you cannot find them no matter how hard you try.

We started looking for ours three years ago, and found one this March
1994 36' Classic Diesel Pusher
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:43 AM   #3
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1983 31' Airstream310
Hillsburgh , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3,805
Hello and welcome to the forums.

Airstream and GM/Isuzu have shared a long relationship with each other. I'm not 100% sure when the very first Isuzu 6BD1A with BAE aftermarket turbo system was installed in an Airstream MH but I have seen a 79 with a turbo diesel.

The Isuzu turbo diesel MH's were 28',30', my 310 (quite a few more of these), 325's and 345's. The 35, 36 and 37' Classics were all Cummins motors I do believe. There was a model change in 84-to 85 with the 325's I do believe, where Airstream used the 6BD1T motor with it's better oil delivery, heavier pistons and crank. However the little more hp that the motor produces is more than soaked up by the heavier coach with its tag axle, longer length and heavier weight.

The Isuzu is a quality piece of work with its ability to cold start without the use of glowplugs right down to 10C. Parts can be hard to come by but since the motor was used in ships (generators and power plants), excavators and other heavy equipment, you can still get rebuild kits. There are a few differences between an excavator diesel and ours, mostly fuel governor and fuel delivery as these motors are meant to run at a constant rpm.
As stated before, buying an Airstream with a tag axle can present problems as servicing and buying parts for the tag and its braking system are almost non-existent.
A few people have transplanted newer 12V Cummins motors and 7.3's into older 454 Classics but they're rare and I would be wary. Someone has even transplanted a new modern Duramax diesel but last I heard was still having issues with PCM's.

The cost to convert to the diesel in 1983 dollars was $15,000.00 US, as all P30 chassis were delivered to Airstream as 454 models, so Airstream did only a few as compared to the gasser. Thusly it can be difficult to find them, but they are out there, and if you do find one, be prepared to pay a premium over the equivalent gas model. The 95-96 36' is the pinnacle with its single axle and better transmission BUT you will pay a huge premium to buy one of these coaches. I have seen a pristine version with an asking price of $125,000.00.

My 310 serves me very well with the amount of room and ease of service. Good luck with your search.


PS Since buying mine I have been noticing prices for Classics are on the rise, especially for the diesels.
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Old 05-19-2014, 10:35 AM   #4
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1984 31' Airstream310
Honokaa , Hawaii
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 941
There has been a pretty good looking 28' diesel for sale on Seattle Craigslist for a few weeks. The ad was updated on May 15 with a $1k price drop, good thing I am not in Seattle with a pocket full of cash.
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