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Old 11-08-2008, 08:03 PM   #41
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1964 26' Overlander
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
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Airstream or Pop-Up?

Greetings Jezibels!

My first introduction to camping as a child was in a then brand-new Airstream Overlander owned by friends of my family -- it set my standard for camping/travel and I have never truly been satisfied with the other options that came between that day and the day when I pruchased that same Overlander in 1995.

(This was the Airstream two years after that first trip.)

The first option tried was the pickup camper. It was brand new in 1969 including the Chevrolet C-20 to carry it. This combination lasted for two years -- My father who wasn't particularly fond of camping disliked driving the truck with camper mounted and it had to be mounted to be stored in our driveway (it was a bear to park in downtown lots near his place of employment). My mother wasn't satisfied with the truck as it didn't offer the comfort and convenience of the family Oldsmobile.

(This was our short-lived 1969 SunWay Truck Camper)

The next experiment was via one of my mother's sister -- she invited us on a camping trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. The mode of travel was a 1971 Vokswagen Campmobile towing a 1971 Montgomery Ward Tent-Trailer. I think that we were both relieved to return home -- the VW didn't have air conditioning and the lack of operable windows limited air flow. The tent camper took a minimum of 30-minutes to set up and was only a tiny step above a cabin tent.

(1967 Montgomery Ward Tent Camper similar to the one we used)

The next step was tent camping with our 1971 Buick Sportwagon. This option worked well, but no one in the family relished the nightly setup and the morning tear-down. We were fortunate the few years that we traveled in this manner to never have it rain while the tent was setup.

Another change came about in 1979. After less than successful experiences with tent camping, tent-trailer camping, and truck camper camping -- it was time to try another variety -- Nomad 17' travel-lite travel trailer. This trailer was special-ordered with nearly all factory offered options. This was a somewhat successful during the first season with the exception that the only car that we owned that was powerful enough to tow the coach was my '65 Dodge Coronet 500 Convertible. The second season was marred by an accident caused by a defective leafr spring mount that sheared while underway and caused a 180 degree skid -- the tow vehicle was undamaged, but the trailer had significant damage -- it was never to be used again after the insurance company repaired it and it was traded on an economy car. It did answer the question that this was the most preferred camping method by my parents and myself.

(1965 Dodge Coronet with 1979 Nomad 17' Travel Lite)

In 1983, it was time for another change that took us to a US-built conversion van (B-Camper). It was a brand-new GMC G-20 Van with Ultra Vista conversion by Compliment Vans of Iowa. This was a very comfortable long-disance travel machine, but a very inadequate camper as it featured very limited ventilation and no RV air conditioning. It did, however, prove to be very underpowered for traveling in the Rocky Mountains with its 307 cubic inch V8. This coach made two vacation trips and was traded in 1985 as no one in my family cared to drive it as daily transportation -- too many blind spots on the right side.

RVing was out during the period from 1985 through 1995. That didn't keep me from scanning every RV lot in our area looking for an older Airstream travel trailer. By 1995, it was obvious that I needed to begin the search in earnest for an Airstream. My search took me to many dealers as well as many individuals who were selling older Airstreams. I finally found one that had been advertised for nearly four months that I decided to see -- after spending the better part of an hour driving around trying to find the obscure lane that the owners lived on, it turned out to be just what I had been searching for the past three months. It had the center twins, rear bathroom. and front lounge that I remembered from my first camping trip. Less than two hours later I was placing a deposit on the trailer prior to returning home to have my '95 Chevrolet pickup prepared for towing. It wasn't until several months later that I learned that this was actually the same trailer that I had taken my first camping trip in during the summer of 1964. Needless to say, I still own this trailer.

(1964 Overlander International with 1999 GMC K2500 Suburban -- summer 1999)

My mother said it all about a year after I purchased the Overlander when she said: "We should have purchased that trailer in 1980 when the original owners decided to retire from traveling. We could have saved a significant amount of money and had something we could enjoy for many years." My mother's health never permitted her to join me for a trip in the Overlander, but she anxiously awaited my photos whenever I returned from a trip.

There is one danger to Airstreaming -- it isn't uncommon for the only-trailer to eventually convince its owners that it needs a sibling. My '78 Argosy Minuet joined the family five years ago. It is smaller and lighter than the Overlander and is ideal for short weekend outings -- but it has been the trailer of choice for the past two International Rallys due to the distances involved.

(1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible with 1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre)

The one thing that was learned through my family's successions of RVs was that it wasn't a good idea to acquire an RV that wasn't viewed favorably by the family. It would have been much more cost effective had we purchased an Airstream in 1969 rather than the pickup camper as a full size trailer was desired by all in regard to amenities available.

As others have written, getting the family steakholders involved in the selection should help to insure satisfaction. The one great thing with an Airstream is that it could be the last RV that you need to buy as there are many 50+ year old Airstreams still being utilized on a regular basis -- the key is diligent regular service. I know of at least two Airstreams that are currently owned by the third or fourth generation of the same family.

There are several RV dealers not too far from Chicago who handle several brands of RVs including Airstream -- Ace Fogdall--Cedar Falls, Iowa; Ewald's--Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Airstream of Chicago--Chicago, Illinois, Outdoor Recreation Center--Council Bluffs, Iowa, Shorewood RV-South--Des Moines, Iowa, US Adventure RV--Davenport, Iowa, and Bill Thomas Camper Sales--Wentzville, Missouri.

Good luck with your research and welcome to the Forums!!

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 08-11-2009, 03:44 PM   #42
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1966 24' Tradewind
Chicago , Illinois
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To all who contributed last year, we are once again revisiting this and once again reading all your posts with your important views on both. Thanks once again for posting, we are leaning towards a vintage Airstream, Love the twin beds in the middle, and you cant deny the cool factor and the fact that AS's really hold their value! We will buy in Spring (I know the worst time to buy an RV) but thats when the DH-Accountant says so. Any more info/opinions are appreciated!
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:57 PM   #43
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2007 23' Safari SE
Central , Connecticut
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There is an inbetween - a Trailmanor folding hard-side trailer. They are very roomy for their towing length, have big beds, most of the amenities you'd get in an Airstream, and they're very lightweight. The later ones (2003-on, IIRC) have almost all composite construction, so the floors won't rot. I looked into buying one a few months back to upgrade from my T@B teardrop, and found you can get a rather nice late model Trailmanor for around $15k.

So why did I just buy a vintage Airstream Argosy? Frankly, we like the way the Argosy looks and we like the community. (Not that the Trailmanor folks don't have their own good forum.) Also, we enjoyed eating lunch at highway rest stops in our T@B, and didn't want to raise a folding trailer to be able to do that, or to even just pop in and grab something.

But honestly, if it wasn't for our vanity, the Trailmanor would have been a very nice trailer to own and tow.

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Old 08-11-2009, 04:29 PM   #44
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1968 24' Tradewind
Rural , Delaware
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"Airstream or Pop-up?"


2005 Bambi
1968 Trade Wind
2007 Ford F250 4x4 Crew
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:52 PM   #45
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or steak?
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Old 08-12-2009, 03:49 PM   #46
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1966 24' Tradewind
Chicago , Illinois
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Did you guys see these?

Airstream Trailer & Airstream Motorhome Classifieds - 1966 Tradewind 24' Maintained with TLC - Powered by PhotoPost Classifieds


Vintage 1966 Airstream Land Yacht Safari 22ft Travel Trailer

I seem to be drawn to the late 60's models
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Old 08-12-2009, 05:04 PM   #47
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1972 Argosy 24
1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Heart of Dixie , Alabama
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Start with a tent!
Next camping trip, listen as a pop-up is being set up.
The pop-up campers have the most colorful vocabulary.
Your opinion is valued, please not your opinion of someones else's opinion.
Click To See Me Wet
1989 Airstream 345 Liberator...
1972 Argosy 24'...
1954 Feathercraft Vagabond
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Old 08-12-2009, 09:12 PM   #48
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Definitely AS, even a pop up with every bell and whistle can't compare. The privacy, comfort, convenience mean everything. When I get home and it has rained, I dont have to "set up" to let it dry out before packing it away.

Good luck with your decision. Either way, it's great your getting your family out there together!

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Old 08-12-2009, 09:26 PM   #49
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Our first towable was a pop up. Personally I'm glad we started that way since its a nice introduction to towing and camping. Every change in vehicles over time added another level to our experience and made understand what was important in future trailers.

We always bought new so for all intents we weren't dealing with repairs or restoration issues. I always bought quality units also. At the time we had Coleman pop ups which were the class act in pop-ups. Lots of things that Coleman did that when you put them side by side with other pop ups, made the decision to go with Coleman a no brainer. That cut down a lot on frustration and reliability which led to more time camping and having fun. It also made it much easier to sell since the universe of folks looking for quality vehicles in good shape and newer vintage much larger. I sold both my pop ups within 3 years of their original purchase. Both sold used, very close to their original new sales price. My first hard sided trailer was a Hi-Lo. Hard sided walls, full bathroom and A/C. It was a great bridge between the pop up and the upright travel trailer. We paid $8,200 for that trailer new and sold it for $5,500 14 years later. The ability to keep that Hi-Lo in a garage kept a lot of wear and tear on it. It was also built like a tank with great insulation with a steel frame. It was was my first introduction to Henschen axles which Airstream used.

When the time came to move to the Airstream, we were pretty seasoned towers. The only thing we hadn't considered was the lack of a fixed dinette in our '01 Safari. We compromised there and ended up trading to get the Classic slide out with the dinette being in the slide out unit.

Jack Canavera
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'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:33 PM   #50
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2019 22' Sport
High River , Alberta
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We went from tent camping (which we rather disliked, but it was the only form of vacation we could afford at the time) right to an older Airstream. We considered popups and hybrids briefly, but decided that "travelling", was a priority for us as opposed to "camping". We also wanted to do this once, not lose money in a series of trades.

I also expect that we will own the Airstream for another 20 years or more. The only reason I would willingly sell it would be to get something with a nicer layout (I like the current 27FB), or to get a restored '60s trailer with real wood inside.

Parking outside in winter is fine; just be sure to wax the clearcoat at least once a year. And never put a tarp over the trailer; wind action is certain to rub bare spots in the clearcoat.
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Old 08-13-2009, 06:21 AM   #51
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You can get a very nice ready to roll vintage Airstream for significantly less than $20K, in fact significantly less than $10k. Proof is my two trailers. I would not rule out an Airstream. Good luck with your search!!
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