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Old 01-12-2009, 07:05 PM   #1
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60's vs. 70's vs. 80's

Hello all,
We are looking for an Airstream probably around 24 feet or less, that sleeps 4 and doesn't need too much work for not very much money. We want to be able to camp in it right away. That's not too much to ask is it?

My question to all of you is what are the pros and cons of the various decades of trailers?

Any help or advice is appreciated. This is a big investment, and we want to be sure we make the right decision for us.
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:19 PM   #2
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Hello TexasAggie, welcome to the Forums from someone who could be named TexasLonghorn!


I have no doubt you'll get plenty of responses, and I'm sure you already know that the more "camp-ready" a trailer is, the more expensive it will be.


I'm partial to the 60s, and I'm also a big fan of the 50s. There are many who own and love their 70s and 80s trailers, too. Often, the newer a trailer is, the fewer problems it will have. But that's not a given.


One thing to keep in mind that Airstreams did not have gray tanks until 1974 I believe, so if that's something you want, you'll have to retrofit a 60s or early 70s trailer.

Good luck!

-Marcus
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:39 PM   #3
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I have had two 50's trailers, two 60's trailers, a seventies trailer, and a 2006. All have pros and cons. Anything vintage is going to need restoration wirk (Floor replacement, frame repair, most often tank retrofitting, etc). I personally like the 50's more than anything, but they are difficult to find, and are not cheap. The 60's and 70's are more plentiful, and less expensive. Parts are more available for these trailers as well.

Just my thoughts.

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Old 01-12-2009, 07:43 PM   #4
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Wink Isn't this what we are looking for????

[quote=TexasAggie;655854]Hello all,
"and doesn't need too much work for not very much money."...


Let me know how this part works out.

You will find prices all over the map. There are deals to be had, and reasonably priced units do come around. Just remember all units...even newer ones require maintenance. Look around...kick a few tires and discuss your expections with you SO. We always set a budget and shop around until something grabs your eye.

My personal opinion.

Newer is nice..But Vintage rules...

The choice is yours...But we expect to be kept in the loop as your adventure unfolds.

Best of Luck,

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Old 01-12-2009, 07:55 PM   #5
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When it come to buying a used Airstream remember those famous last words "everything works"

Pay particular attention to rear end separation, soft spots in the floors and the running gear. A trailer may look pretty good and still have these big bucks repair lurking in the shadows ready to pounce. You can bet your bippy that a 70s or older that has not had it's axles replaces needs it.

Find out what you can about the trailer's history. How may owners? Are there maintainance and repair records? A vintage trailer that lived in a humd area, worser next to salt water, is much more likely to have a frame rust issue.
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:56 PM   #6
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The 60's and earlier are what I would consider the true classics. Airstream made more smaller trailers, many with single axles. They have great wooden interiors and a classic shape. The trailers of the 60s were slightly narrower then the later years.

When Beatrice bought Airstream in the late 60's they moved to slightly larger units, but went away from real wood to keep the weight down. The oil embargo of the seventies moved many industries to lighter is better. The mid 70s was the beginning of grey tanks as well as a better, longer lasting axles.

When Thor bought Airstream in the late 70s, the move then was bigger is better. In many of those years no trailers under 25 feet were produced. The 80s did bring the return to the real wood look, better frames and many different floor plans.

It's hard to pick the best one, they are all good, just different...
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:57 PM   #7
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Here is your answer

I started to try answer this question.....but what the heck. Your in a great spot to get you answer ......
http://www.airforums.com/forums/cale...2-4;&e=459&c=1

Its coming up quick. All your questions will be answered on the spot.
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:59 PM   #8
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50, 60 skipped the 70's and went 80's

Well the 50's needed an added bath and a bunch of other stuff. The 59 required 700 + hours and over $10,000 to restore but it is soooooo cool. The 54 will need the same. The 68 was not as much of a chore to get on the road and had what would be needed to be useable, AC, charging system, full bath, holding tanks, hot water etc. But all systems needed updating and total cost is about $15,000 but not as many hours. The 88 needed a new floor, and stuff inside, has all the goodies and when road ready (camping ready) will cost about $15,000 +, the hours still to be determined. I have had it 18 months or so and still not had it on the road.

If you want to go without a problem I would look at the 90's to new, it might be cheaper in the long run.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:14 PM   #9
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I have an ’83 34’ Excella with hail damage to the front cap but otherwise in very good shape (I can’t see the hail damage from my chair). After replacing the AC (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f427...ead-40795.html) and refrigerator (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f425...aes-44474.html), I still don’t have $15,000 in it. I enjoyed my ’67 Trade Wind, but the addition of the gray tank, the electronic ignition for the water heater, double pane windows, and other updates make the ’83 a much nicer trailer. That said, ’83 was the last year for wood grain laminate instead of real wood inside. Veneer cabinet fronts are on my list.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:18 PM   #10
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Welcome to the forums,

Airstreamers are an interesting group of people, and there is something for everyone. I would suggest trying to attend a rally or at least stop at a Airstream dealership, if there is one close to you, prior to your purchase. I think after you walk through a few, you will start to form your own preferences. You willingness to spend money, and ability to work on the trailer will also play a role.

I have yet to walk through an Airstream, regardless of year or size, and not like what I saw.

I wish you were closer, I'd show you mine. The more you read here may help, but actually seeing a few is what did it for me. My wife and I started looking for something around a 22 footer, and I ended up buying a 31 footer. I found what I "thought" I wanted changed drastically, once I started walking through and talking to other owners.

Do keep us posted. Kind of like buying a jacket - try a couple on and see what fits.

Best of luck,
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:32 PM   #11
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I started to try answer this question.....but what the heck. Your in a great spot to get you answer ......
http://www.airforums.com/forums/cale...2-4;&e=459&c=1

Its coming up quick. All your questions will be answered on the spot.
We've never attended a rally. How does this work? We would be coming for the open house and maybe the sessions. Sorry, I'm so new to this.

BTW, this site is going to become addicting. How do any of you have time to work on your Airstreams?

Thanks for all of the words of wisdom. We're trying hard to do the research before we jump right in. We've been wanting one for about 6 months and are now really going stir crazy. It's cold here in Houston (for Houston weather anyway) but I really want to be camping!
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:12 PM   #12
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Hi, while trying to find a really great trailer for a nice low price, beware of trailers without titles, hidden damage, and scams.
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:25 PM   #13
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Hi, while trying to find a really great trailer for a nice low price, beware of trailers without titles, hidden damage, and scams.
This is a good point. From my research, here in Texas, a missing title can be a disaster, making it nearly impossible to license/register. Registration for a travel trailer is almost identical to registration for a car, and this requires a clear title (NO salvage title and a Bill of Sale is not enough, either).

I'm not an attorney, but when I was looking for a trailer, I encountered several for sale that had no title and bill of sale only, and my research with the DMV told me that it would be extremely difficult to get it registered without a title.

Good luck!

-Marcus
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:55 AM   #14
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We've never attended a rally. How does this work? We would be coming for the open house and maybe the sessions.
The IBT Rally is happening now at Lake Conroe KOA in Montgomery. Contact Myron Fisher (512) 784 0635 Fisch963@earthlik.net
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Old 01-13-2009, 03:51 AM   #15
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60's vs. 70's vs. 80's

Another thing that went into my decision when buying my '64 Overlander in 1995 was floorplan. I looked at a huge number of coaches and never found one with anything other than a full-width rear bath the suited me. That automatically eliminated most (but not all) post 1985 Airstreams and a good number of the post 1980 Airstreams as well. You, too, may find that there will be one particular feature that helps to make your decision between 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 01-13-2009, 04:51 AM   #16
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Hello all,
...24 feet or less, that sleeps 4 and doesn't need too much work for not very much money. We want to be able to camp in it right away. That's not too much to ask is it?

My question to all of you is what are the pros and cons of the various decades of trailers?
Hey there TexasAggie, I'm your neighbor to the north and an alumnus of the football powerhouse that is Baylor University.

I just bought my first a/s about 3 weeks ago after looking at them for years. What you want is ultimately what most of us middle class types want who are lusting after these silver beauties...champagne taste on a beer budget.

If you just want to go camping, you can probably find something that is alot newer and alot more functional than what you can afford/find in an airstream. I've been thinking about this alot lately and airstream trailers (I think) are a bit more form than function. ie.They are bit more difficult to repair and maintain from a functional standpoint (rivets and aluminum panels vs. sobs). Conversely they are beutiful and will hold their value better than any other travel trailer. But that debate is perhaps a whole other thread. You're looking for an airstream.

But your quote of "not very much money" is fairly relative. What isn't much money to one person on this forum may be alot to someone else etc... So here is my assesment of the current a/s market and a few things I learned/wish I'd known since buying mine.

less than $3000 gets you something in the 70s or 60s that is dented and has had no work done to it since the day it rolled off the production floor. These are the ones sitting in peoples fields waiting like puppies in a shelter to be rescued and resucitated. (Easy to find)

$3000-$5000 gets you something from the 70s that the owner will state is fully operational. These trailers may or may not have dents in them and the skins have oxidized. (Easy to find)

$5000-$10000 gets you something from the 80s or something that is in good shape from the 70s ie. the body will be fairly straight and all of the systems will be functional. (Easy to find)

$10,000-$15000 will get you a restored trailer from the 60s or 70s or a trailer that has been very well maintained from the 80s. You can also find trailers from both the 90s and 00s in this price range with salvaged titles, but you have to decide if you're willing to go down that road or not. (Fairly easy to find)

$15,000-$20000 will get you a 90s trailer or something cherry from the 50s or 60s. (Harder to find)

$20,000-$25,000 will get you something in the 16'-22' length in the 00s or a collectors item. Whiler there are a few private owners out there selling these, the most likely place to find these trailers is on dealers lots because owners have traded them in for something bigger.

I could keep going but I'll stop there for the sake of brevity. Also you are starting to get close to the price of a new sport model trailer at this point or some late model 05-08 trailers in the 24' and below category.

A few final thoughts. New trailers are wider than old trailers and thus a 25' new model has as much usable space as older 28-31 footers. Like you when I was looking i thought to myself "I don't want anything bigger than 22' but after getting inside a few I ultimately found myself thinking "25-27' might be a little more enjoyable."

My dad is a fly fisherman and often tells me, "son fly fishing is a bottomless sea of knowledge, about the time you think you know a little about it you realize that you don't really know anything about it." I've found this to be true with airstreams, although beautiful and fairly straightfoward in their construction there is an awful lot beneath their beautiful skins to learn about.

Good luck with your search and I like TAMU and their fans alot more now that they are a basketball school.
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Old 01-13-2009, 05:05 AM   #17
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TexasAggie,
First welcome to the forums, and yes it can get addicting.
Another thing that may influence your choice is sleeping arrangements. Since you said "we" in your fist post I assume you are either married or have a significant other. In many of the Airstream floor plans you find two single beds or a fold out gaucho (sofa). My wife and I still like to share a bed (more often than not) so when we went looking for Airstream number two, a queen size bed was important. It was also important that we both be able to get out of the bed on our respective sides. You may find a lot of the coaches have the beds against an exterior wall necessitating that one sleeper climb over the other to get out of the bed.

My advice is to look at as many coaches as possible and get to know the different floor plans. Do a forum search for inspection checklists and use it when ever you go looking at coaches. Also utilize the inspection feature here on the forums. There may be individuals in your area that are knowledgeable and willing to inspect a trailer with / for you.

Camping ready trailers are out there at reasonable prices, it just takes time and patience to find yours. We looked for a year for our second one (the 1987). It was camping ready when we bought it, but as you will find, there is always something that needs to be done and changes necessary to make the trailer your rolling palace or Mobile Margaritaville (as we call ours)

Good luck in your search, keep us posted on your progress (with pictures), and ask lots of questions.
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Old 01-13-2009, 05:54 AM   #18
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TexasAggie
If you are interested in coming to the Texas Vintage Rally in San Antonio for the Swap Meet and Open House on Saturday there is no charge and no arrangements need to be made. Just show up. The Swap meet is in the morning from 9-11. The Open House will be held Saturday afternoon from 1-3, but nothing says you'd have to leave at 3Pm. Stay around and visit with the various Airstreamers. I know of at least one trailer in outstanding condition that will be for sale at this rally. It is ready to enjoy now. It will be in use at the rally where you can test all systems and verify that everything works. You can then pull it home from the rally.

I'm not sure that you can attend the seminars since you don't yet own an Airstream. While you don't have to be a member of anything to attend this rally, I think you do have to own an Airstream in order to attend. Contact Elaine Jackson at elaine@gaj.com to inquire about this and to and request a registration form and fee schedule if you can attend without owning an Airstream. You would need to explain to her that you are coming to look at the various trailers and do not yet have an Airstream. Tell her what days you'd like to attend and see what her advice is. There is a motel next door to the RV Park owned by the Park. Contact Braunig Lake RV in Elmendorf (San Antonio suburb) for the phone number of the motel and room rates. We'd love having you attend.

I'll send you a private message with my cell phone and other contact information should you have further questions.

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Old 01-13-2009, 06:24 AM   #19
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Welcome, Vintage is certainly very cool. But you did say you wanted a unit ready to camp at a reasonable cost. IMO this would dictate 85 or newer. As noted above, these units tend to be very sturdy structurally (no rear bath issue, heavy frames) and also will have all the amenities that brand new units have; micro, cable TV hookup, etc. (if these are important to you). These units are also quite heavy, but you did say you were looking at 22’ or less ( for 4 people? Are you sure?). Units from this era (85-92) can be had a very good prices, but will require a stout tow vehicle. Less than 25’ feet a nice domestic ½ ton would do, over 25’ you should be looking at ¾ ton. The newer (Safari, et al) have returned to much lighter weights. Some would say this is an indication of cost cutting. The future will tell. I towed a new 25’ recently and it was way lighter than our 25’ Excella. IMO, AS’s from 85-92 are the best value in a camper most likely ready to go. You may or may not need to replace/repair appliances that are almost 20 years old (we replaced our fridge a couple years ago. Everything else has been fine with normal maintenance. A little bald on top-oh well)
Good luck, take your time. When you find the right one you’ll know!
(Disclaimer; all camper, regardless of year, should be thoroughly inspected).

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Old 01-13-2009, 10:44 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasAggie View Post
Hello all,
We are looking for an Airstream probably around 24 feet or less, that sleeps 4 and doesn't need too much work for not very much money. We want to be able to camp in it right away. That's not too much to ask is it?

My question to all of you is what are the pros and cons of the various decades of trailers?

Any help or advice is appreciated. This is a big investment, and we want to be sure we make the right decision for us.
Are you confussed yet ? info overload ? I'm sure by now you probably know you want. It can take awhile to find the one that is perfect for you. It took daily searching for 10 months to find my "63" 24' Tradewind. It was unrestored but very well maintained. Paid a fair price for the good condition of the trailer. The only major thing i did was a new axel.
Good Luck ! I love my Vintage AS !
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