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Old 11-23-2014, 09:46 AM   #1
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Airstreams Annual Production

How many did they make each year? I have done a fair amount of research on this and I can't find annual production numbers. What are the annual production numbers? How many of each length? Each model?

Frequent scanning of the classifieds and a loose tracking of how many trailers are for sale by year, by model and by length has led me to the following speculation:
  • There are sharp peaks and valleys in annual production.
  • Until fairly recently there were many more longer trailers, i.e. 28' and up, produced than shorter ones.
  • Production seems to have been particularly low in the late 80's and early 90's.

This is something that I'm very curious about. Production numbers can have a major impact on values. When you have scarcity plus desirability you get higher prices. As an owner of a '90 25' Excella I have watched with interest the frequent Wanted to Buy ads for trailers meeting my specs. My trailer is not for sale and, other than for agreed value insurance purposes, it's pretty much academic, but it's nice to know.

I spent many years in the early Porsche world and there production figures are known exactly. I can't believe that AS doesn't have these figures in musty ledgers somewhere. Or can we extrapolate from serial numbers? Anyone?

Cheers,
John
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Old 11-23-2014, 11:09 AM   #2
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Airstream as a company does not have a history of continuous management. This put a significant slant on what you are looking for. As management of a company changes so do other factors that influence value, mainly quality of product.

During the period that Beatrice Foods owned Airstream the quality took a nose dive.

This may answer your question.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f492...ears-8585.html
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Old 11-23-2014, 11:23 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input but it doesn't answer my question. I'm just looking for something like this:

Porsche Longhood Production
The table below lists the numbers of 911 made for each of the years given.
Model Year 1965 - 3.300
Model Year 1966 - 1.708
Model Year 1967 - 4.152
Model Year 1968 (A-series) - 6.957
Model Year 1969 (B-series) - 10.118
Model Year 1970 (C-series) - 14.381
Model Year 1971 (D-series) - 12.164
Model Year 1972 (E-series) - 12.882
Model Year 1973 (F-series) - 15.438

Porsche also gets more granular and breaks the numbers down by model.

Pretty simple...
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Old 11-23-2014, 12:09 PM   #4
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Here are numbers of currently for sale trailers in the classifieds:

60's - 32
70's - 60
80's - 21
90's - 10
00's - 25

This seems to be a pretty standard distribution. There always seem to be a lot of 70's trailers for sale. Another thing I notice is that all of the 80's trailers listed are 29' and up. And another - very few 90's for sale.

John
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Old 11-23-2014, 12:20 PM   #5
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Somehow, I expect the Germans to be fastidious about numbers...

Some of the trends you're seeing are due to Airstream's product line-up through the years. From about 1980 until 2004, Airstream built very few trailers shorter than 25' and IIRC, no single axle trailers. Finding a 21' or 23' trailer in that time period is like a needle in a haystack.

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Old 11-23-2014, 12:28 PM   #6
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Fred Coldwell 47weewind has spent a lot of time on your question researching into the years, model, and production numbers. Fred is the foremost expert on Airstream history and he states that the numbers you ask for are only guesses based on plate numbers. The old VIN or ID plates on the trailer tell you year built, witch factory (there was once two factories), trailer length, and production number. The production numbers from my understanding were not consistent and that is why it becomes an educated guess. Fred has also dove into PeeWee's countless documents to research your question and found no real data. It has been said that as ownership of Airstream has changed over the years the data was simply lost. Since THOR purchased Airstream the production numbers can be found since its a publicly traded company. If you go to Vintage Airstream - Airstream Trailer Resource and click on the yearly photo archives this will provide you with all the different models by year with pictures showing the differences between the two factories and year to year changes. I know that he was trying to create a data base of all trailers made by Airstream and someday show the production numbers. It has not fully matured to production numbers but is still a valuable base of data!

Hope that helps
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Old 11-23-2014, 12:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mutcth View Post
Somehow, I expect the Germans to be fastidious about numbers...

Some of the trends you're seeing are due to Airstream's product line-up through the years. From about 1980 until 2004, Airstream built very few trailers shorter than 25' and IIRC, no single axle trailers. Finding a 21' or 23' trailer in that time period is like a needle in a haystack.

Tom
And I think 25's are uncommon. Owning one myself I follow the market a bit just out of curiosity (I really like to look at pictures of interiors) and I see very few for sale. One trend seems to emerge: Airstream produced small trailers early, went to more big trailers later, and now are back to more small trailers. 25's seem to be right on the cusp.

John
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Old 11-23-2014, 12:57 PM   #8
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Thanks for the input Vinstream. I'm a little fuzzy about the definition of "vintage" as it applies to Airstreams. You often see it defined as 25 years old or more, but that doesn't feel right to me. For example, my trailer is a '90 so it will soon be 25 years old. But it doesn't seem vintage to me at all - it feels kind of new even. That might be because I'm an old guy and I've spent too long dealing with 50 year old Porsches, dunno.

To me Airstreams from the 50's and 60's feel vintage. With apologies to 70's owners, trailers from that era and newer don't.

John
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Old 11-23-2014, 03:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John&Vicki View Post
And I think 25's are uncommon. Owning one myself I follow the market a bit just out of curiosity (I really like to look at pictures of interiors) and I see very few for sale. One trend seems to emerge: Airstream produced small trailers early, went to more big trailers later, and now are back to more small trailers. 25's seem to be right on the cusp.
My guess: for many years, 25' was the "entry level" trailer. Now it's something of a sweet spot.

Another guess: maybe that marks a transition from AS being the final aspirational RV purchase for a retiree (used to big trailers) vs. now moving towards being more of a lifestyle choice for still-working folks (many of whom are buying an AS as their first trailer)?

Tom
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Old 11-23-2014, 03:47 PM   #10
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Tom...

Interesting theories. Personally, I bought an older 25' trailer for practical reasons - because it would be comfortable towing it with a vehicle I already had and because it fit my budget for trying the RV thing. As it turns out my wife and I are both delighted with the accidental right choice. It tows easily and, after spending four months in it last winter, we have discovered we're perfectly comfortable with it.

It does fit the stage we're in right now also. We're preparing to move into a new to us house that is less than 50% as big as the one I'm sitting in typing this. We've been married 47 years and have enjoyed things in an expansive manner at times. For some reason it just feels better to simplify and downsize now.

Having hijacked my own thread, I'm still interested in production numbers. Has anyone asked Airstream directly?

John
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Old 11-23-2014, 06:17 PM   #11
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Airstream doesn't put out production numbers, but from some Googling:

From:Airstream revving up production, workforce - Dayton Business Journal

August 2009 - 12 trailers/week
December 2009 - 25 trailers/week

From: Rambling With Airstream President & CEO Bob Wheeler - Forbes

Jan 2012 - 29 trailers/week

From: Airstream Inc. Reports ‘Record Growth’ for 2013 | RV Business

2013 had a 59% increase in trailer sales over 2012. Let's say that makes 45 trailers/week.

From: Airstream Generates 49% Growth in 3Q Sales | RV Business

2014's 3rd quarter (ending April 30) has another 49% increase over last year. Maybe we're up to 67 trailers/week?

From: Thor Announces Major Expansion for Airstream | RV Business

Airstream expands the factory because they topped out capacity.

These numbers "feel" somewhat right - from 1,500 to 3,000 trailers a year, excluding the low points of the recession.

Tom
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Old 11-23-2014, 06:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John&Vicki View Post
It does fit the stage we're in right now also. We're preparing to move into a new to us house that is less than 50% as big as the one I'm sitting in typing this. We've been married 47 years and have enjoyed things in an expansive manner at times. For some reason it just feels better to simplify and downsize now.
I think you hit on it. There seems to be a trend in downsizing, not just houses but in RVs. Class B sales are growing, partly as people get out of Class As and want something more manageable.

Congrats on the new place. I would LOVE to give up 50% of the square footage of our bought-on-the-cheap mid-century-modern...but I still want a 25' Airstream. (And a Sprinter-based moho...)

Tom
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Old 11-23-2014, 06:27 PM   #13
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1,500 - 3,000 a Year ?

Great numbers Tom. That feels kind of right to me too. Pretty low production level. We know that Airstreams aren't rare, but on the other hand, they're not common either. Hard to know how many have survived over the years as opposed to laying in fields or going to the crusher, but there is undoubtedly a fair amount of attrition.

John
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Old 11-23-2014, 06:31 PM   #14
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The line in the brochures is that 70% of all Airstreams ever built are still on the road today. Lots of room for interpretation in that factoid...

Tom
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Old 11-23-2014, 06:48 PM   #15
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I read that same thing once about Harley-Davidsons: 70% still on the road - the others made it home. Bada bada bing!
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Old 12-20-2014, 06:45 PM   #16
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We use to decipher the serial numbers of antique slot machines and antique jukeboxes to find production numbers. These were slot machines from the beginning to the end of mechanical models in 1960 (Jennings). Each had a number. I cannot recall if the denomination was the same series or not, but I am sure you are getting the idea. Coin Operated hobbyist magazines would track anything with a serial number. Helped boost subscriptions as well.

The 78 RPM Jukeboxes of the 1930's to the last real collectable ones in 1949 also had serial numbers from #000001 to #0057245 as an example of the Bubble Tube Wurlitzer 1015 made in 1946 with a #10***** and the 1947 #20*****. We got good at it to determine WHICH were low production numbers and when changes took place at specific numbers. Much... like Airstreams.

If there was a Thread where someone wanted, it is a pain in the posterior at the beginning to find the LOW and the HIGH number, the number can be figured out. Some companies will "confuse" these numbers so the competitors are not also up to date with what is being put out at the factory. Each Airstream has a serial number. Maybe they begin for each length, each model, or All combined according to first in and first out of the factory door to a dealer... and so on.

Much like Silver Coins... each year has a mintage. It was fairly accurate until the US Government began melting, say Silver Dollars after WWI, so those numbers are no longer accurate. In many cases off by MILLIONS.

Airstreams should be much easier. Serial numbers on the hot water tank could be a possibility, if they have numbers and only used on Airstreams. Frame numbers versus or matched to the ID Plate on the side of a finished model.

I do not have enough information to find a pattern, but once it is discovered... and Airstream wants to conceal their production numbers... it will get tricky afterwards. Up to now... it should be possible to get the pattern and usually, I say usually, it is easiest for the company to begin with and end with a model year adding a digit with each produced and sold trailer.

Once you have a LOW and a HIGH, you can eliminate any inquiry for those between and begin asking for the NEXT lower or highest number. Getting started was very difficult but easier as the numbers began to fall into place.

As you can tell. Even my short explanation is long... Good luck and with all of the different models out there and sizes... sharpen your pencils!

Among JUKEBOX collectors... having the First of the production and the LAST had a monetary value. For Airstreams... bragging rights.
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Old 05-27-2017, 10:02 PM   #17
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Exactly. What's the sourcing behind the 70% claim? I am skeptical of that one.

It seems like they must be making about 3,000 to 3,500 a year in 2017--but this is allegedly their best year since at least 1980 and the birth of Thor/end of Beatrice era.

I am really curious about how many they made per year in the 1950s through the seventies.
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Old 05-27-2017, 10:47 PM   #18
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Just did some quick and dirty research . . .

Today at an Airstream dealer the sales guy said that Airstream will produce 3,400 trailers this year--if I recall correctly. That number seemed very small to me so I dug deeper.

After researching online, the best number I found was from 2.5 years ago when they were producing 50 per week which would be 2,600/year. Source: Washington Post, "Airstream can’t keep up with demand for iconic silver trailers," January 1, 2015.

The same article said they are on track to increase production by 50%, but didn't give a timeline. That's all consistent with the 3,400 number I heard today.

These would likely be their highest numbers since at least 1979-1980 (my guess).

I am really curious how many they were producing per year from about 1955 to 1978. Though from reading the history of Airstream it was likely 1974-75 when sales really began to plummet because of the OPEC induced spike in gas prices that shocked the whole economy.

More on their current expansion:
From Dayton Business Journal, November 2016.

In 2016, RV shipments totaled 430,691 units, a gain of 15.1% over the previous year. This was the seventh consecutive annual increase. That's all RVs including travel trailers and all motorhomes. Source: Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, April 2017.

Given the small percentage of Airstreams vs. all other trailers/RVs, this makes more sense.

2016 was also Thor's best year ever--they were founded in 1980. Source: Thor Industries, September 2016, "THOR ANNOUNCES RECORD RESULTS FOR FOURTH QUARTER AND FISCAL 2016."

Another random fact: Harley shipped 262,221 motorcycles in 2016 (missing their goal).

The world needs more Airstreams! Just sayin'.

Still very curious about the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s numbers.
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Old 05-27-2017, 11:21 PM   #19
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Ran out of time to edit my previous post.

Found this on the RVIA website, but it only goes back to 1978! So based on this info, 1978, 2006, and likely 2016 will be high water marks. But what about the 1950s through 1977?

2016 numbers are available on from the link in my previous post. It was by far the biggest year in the industry since 1978 and 2017 is on track to be bigger.
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Old 07-07-2018, 05:27 PM   #20
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The last four digits of the VIN of our 1975 Airstream are 2901. My guess is that these old VINs were consecutive for each model year. That tells me that production levels were quite healthy in the mid-70s.
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