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Old 12-04-2008, 09:50 AM   #1
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Divide , Colorado
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Best 70's Airstream for a small family

Hi, I'm new to this forum so I'll introduce myself first. I'm 27 years old and my wife and 2 wonderful children ages 2 and 1. My question is first, how can I talk my wife into letting me buy an older AS with our tax return (we have not debt so it's not spoken for yet). Second, when (not if) I convince her it's a good decition for our family what model do you experienced Airstreamers think would be best for a family of four like ours? I figure we'll be doing one 1-2 weeks trip a year and several weekend trips on a more local scale. My TV is a 2001 Yukon XL 2500 w/ 6.0L, 3.73 and a limited slip so I'm not too concerned about trailer weight on the 70's models. Well, know that you know our needs let me hear all your thoughts.
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Old 12-04-2008, 10:01 AM   #2
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1972 25' Tradewind
North Vancouver , British Columbia
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Welcome to the forum. I have a 25 foot Tradewind that I think would be the ideal size for a young family, such as yours. You can see pics by clicking the blue number under my profile information. The front gaucho (couch) folds down to a double bed which would be cozy for two adults. Mine has two twins at mid-ships that are ideal for full grown people. You can also get a version wioth a double bed at midships, with more storage across the aisle, rather than a bed. There are two different rear bath configurations. One with a tub/shower and one, like mine, with a wet bath. That is, the floor is a shower pan and the whole bathroom serves as one large shower. I prefer this because I'm tall and am able to stand in the centre of the room. I find with the tub/shower version, the tub/shower is at the side of the trailer and with the radiused ceiling, I cannot stand upright. I live in mine full time with my two Labradors and have more than enough room. Good luck with your search!
Cameron & the Labradors, Kai & Samm
North Vancouver, BC
Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - Mame Dennis
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Old 12-04-2008, 10:16 AM   #3
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1976 Argosy 24
-- , Georgia
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We have a 1976 24' Argosy, and it's big enough for 2 adults and 3 dogs. The front gaucho folds down into a bed, and we have the twin beds midship with a rear bath.

When we camp, we spend little time inside the trailer (outside of sleeping). We usually cook outside the trailer on a small grill. If you plan on spending lots of time inside the trailer, you might consider getting a longer trailer. 27' or 28' models.

Any of these mid-sized trailers should be a good match with your tow vehicle, assuming you don't overload the trailer.

Good luck.


1976 24' Argosy
1973 International Harvester Travelette 1210 4x4 'Bernard' 164" WB
1997 Georgie Boy 30' SuperDuty v10
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Old 12-04-2008, 10:25 AM   #4
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I'm was a strong believer that bigger is better...but having recently purchased a 25' Avion I really don't think of it as "smaller". Personally I like the rear bath concept. Since I'm tall I find it a little easier to utilize. I think space/size issue is what you make of it. Most of our cooking and such takes place outside and we go indoors when the weather is bad.

There are deals to be had, and plenty of very knowledable folks on this forum that are more than willing to offer advice, and even assistance.

Welcome Aboard,

"One of the best lessons I've learned is that you don't worry about criticism from people you wouldn't seek advice from."

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Old 12-04-2008, 11:04 AM   #5
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Divide , Colorado
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I actually found a Trade Wind in a nearby city that has been sitting for problably at least a decade. I like the '25 layouts and it seems a good pair to my Yukon. I don't mind a little work since I restore cars for a hobby and used to work as a framer and trim carpender. Might have to go find the owner and see if I can make a sweet deal.
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Old 12-04-2008, 11:06 AM   #6
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2019 22' Sport
High River , Alberta
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Your tow vehicle is capable of handling any of the '70s trailers. Rolling down the road, you won't be able to tell the difference between a 23' and a 31'. Unless you are really concerned about length (e.g. to camp in some state parks) I would focus on finding the best trailer for the money. Spend some time learning about rear separation and other issues, and try to get a trailer that's had the defects corrected properly.

In the 1970s, Beatrice focused on the wealthy retiree market, and seemed to sell more 31' Sovereigns than anything else. At least, the longer trailers seem easier to find today and don't seem to cost more than the shorter ones.

If you find a good trailer, it will provide for economical and pleasant family travels, and maintaining/restoring it could become a life long hobby.
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Old 12-04-2008, 11:12 AM   #7
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1956 22' Safari
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Conifer/Evergreen , Colorado
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Thumbs up Welcome from a fellow Colorado Airstreamer!

You may find the pictures here helpful in determining the size that would work best for you. While I don't have kids, it seems to me the best layout would be mid-twins/front gaucho. The kids could take their naps and go to bed early on the twins and you could still have the front living section for yourselves. Then make down the gaucho/bed when you are ready to call it a night.

Good luck with whatever you decide...once you get one, come camping with the Denver Unit...we have lots of vintage trailers and younger families in our midst. It's the wrong time of year right now...but if you are still looking in the spring, come on out to a rally to see different models in person and talk to folks first hand that us them - kick the tires a bit.

Vintage Airstream Club - Past President 2007/2008
WBCCI #1824 - DenCO Unit Past President (2005)
AIR #30 - Join Date: 2-25-2002

RMVAC | WBCCI DenCO Unit | BIRDY - our 1956 Safari | 1964 Serro Scotty
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Old 12-04-2008, 11:15 AM   #8
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1998 28' Excella
Dolores , Colorado
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Good morning and welcome to the forum.
With the size of your tow vehicle the 25 ft. unit would be just about ideal. It is light enough and not too long for the Tahoe to handle. You will see over time that this forum will provide you with excellent support in upgrading an older unit should you purchase it.
If you should decide you wish to join the Wally Byam Caravan Club, there are 3 units that service Colorado. They are in Denver, Colorado West and Four Corners Unit. Take a look at them and if you need additional info on them Denver and Four Corners can be accessed through on their links page.
Good luck in you venture.

Member Four Corners Unit/CAC
WBCCI # 10105
AIR # 28748

"Life is an adventure, live it to the fullest"
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:35 PM   #9
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1971 23' Safari
Groveport , Ohio
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Welcome, I was very happy with my 71 safari 23' tandem axle for the family of four. The chidren 4 and 7 and now things are even better with just me and the children. I could not see us being in anything smaller. Good luck. Robert
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:39 PM   #10
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1959 26' Overlander
1960 24' Tradewind
1961 16' Bambi
Oakland , California
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We Love Our 1974 25 Foot Trade Wind!

Our first Airstream was our 1974 Trade Wind. We like to call her our gateway trailer.

We've found our 25 foot Trade Wind to be roomy and well designed. It has an incredible amount of storage. It tows like a dream and we love the added safety of the dual axles.

Although we don't have any little ones yet, the front and mid gaucho couches allow us to invite guests to travel with us. When we're at Burning Man it allows each of us to have our own space to decompress and have some alone time (not that we need that much-but it's nice to have).

Which ever model you choose, we're sure you'll have many great trips and adventures on the road.

Good luck with your search!
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:10 PM   #11
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1978 Argosy 30
Alvin , Texas
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Have a look at ours, click the images link below the Avatar. It's a 1978 Argosy. We sleep 5 in it, two on the fold down bed, two in the bunks in the rear, and one on an inflatable mattress on the floor in front of the fold out bed. Of course the front beds are all put away during waking hours. has been GREAT for us!! But our kids are still young, 9, 7, 6.


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Old 12-04-2008, 07:36 PM   #12
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1977 27' Overlander
Trotwood , Ohio
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We have a 77 Overlander 27 ft with a rear bath and two double beds. We travel with three dogs. My suggestion would be to buy with the idea of the children growing so U need something big enough for tomorrow. I would caution U on buying something that has been parked for years. The repairs can and are devistating to a budget.
I think your TV will be sufficent to handle like someone said ANYTHING.
Good LUCK with your search.
Roger & MaryLou
7.3 liter Power Stroke Diesel
1977 27ft OVERLANDER
AIR # 22336 TAC- OH-7
May your roads be straight and smooth and may you always have a tailwind!
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:53 PM   #13
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appleton , Wisconsin
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I'm in the same boat.

I'm thinking a mid-low 20 footers with the twin option and a dinette up front. Bunks for the twins would be perfect.
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:56 PM   #14
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1971 25' Tradewind
Surprise , Arizona
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Posts: 346
Welcome to the forum. First of all you said that you had no debt, this you will find to be very helpful when working with vintage model A/S trailers because they will keep the cash flowing through. Second, I am also an owner of a Tradewind that I love very much. I have the 2 twins model and have put removable bunkbeds in. As you can see I have a good sized family. I slept 6 in it very comfortably for Nascar week.
Jerry C.

"Travelstar Galactica"

WBCCI #13317
AIR #25664
Member of the Four Corners Unit

The only true failure is the failure to try.
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:08 PM   #15
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1963 22' Safari
2020 27' Globetrotter
State of , Washington
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We have a 69 tradewind (25') that we have with my wife and I and our 2 year old son. It seems the ideal size for a small family, plenty of storage, a roomie bathroom, but still an easy side to tow and to park at campgrounds.
Scott & Megan
1963 Safari from the 1963-64 Around the World Caravan
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:40 PM   #16
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1994 34' Excella
Mount Vernon , Kentucky
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My family of four found the 71 31 footer to be very comfortable and easy to pull. We upgraded to our current 34 footer but I sure do miss that easy towing Sovereign. We found the 31 to be very roomy and user friendly with the rear bath and twin beds.
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Old 12-05-2008, 12:12 AM   #17
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1964 26' Overlander
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Anna , Illinois
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Best 70's Airstream for a small family

A slightly different take on the idea was available in the late 1970s from Argosy. The coach that I have in mind is the Argosy 24 Rear Door model -- it has a floorplan that wasn't available in Airstreams until very recently. My thought was that while children are young and have earlier bed times that the front twins would make an ideal area for the children -- the privacy drape could be drawn and the adults could play cards, board games, or just talk at the dinette table with ready access to the bathroom and kitchen. This particular coach isn't very common as it was produced for only two years, but the floorplan is quite unique. I have attached a scan of the floorplan below:

Good luck with your investigation and decision!

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 12-05-2008, 12:29 AM   #18
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1971 25' Tradewind
1993 34' Excella
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Estancia , New Mexico
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Ditto on the Tradewind. I also had a 31' Sovereign but really did not find much difference in sleeping, storage, or livibility space. The Sovereign was more spread out, but the Tradewind uses space more effectively. The Tradewind is also easier to manuever. The Tradewind has aptly been described as the biggest little Airstream or the littlest big Airstream. I regularly have myself, wife, 2 dogs and 3 grandkids in my Tradewind. I also put in 2 removable bunks.

Longer 70s Airstreams are also more prone to rear end separation or sag. Also if a 70s AS still has the original axles it's a good bet they're shot.
Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine.
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Old 12-05-2008, 06:08 AM   #19
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1968 30' Sovereign
1959 18' "Footer"
1954 22' Flying Cloud
Brussels , Wisconsin
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Mid Twins

The best trailer we found for traveling with the kids was our 24' Trade Wind with mid twins. Each girl had her own bed and the mid area was theirs to rule ( an mess up!)

We upgraded to a 30' with a mid double that they had to share but as they got older it worked ok. Also we needed the room to haul all the stuff that goes with traveling with teens.

Just remember that you and the wife will be up front on that couch or whatever you get up there, give the kids the mid area for their area and you will be just fine.
I'm NOT an old man.............
54 Flying Cloud
59 Traveler
68 Sovereign
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Old 12-05-2008, 07:31 AM   #20
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1971 31' Sovereign
1967 22' Safari
1958 22' World Traveler
Pardeeville , Wisconsin
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Welcome...our first AS is a '71 31'...the price was right, we like the twin beds in the middle (also have 2 kids, 5 and 3) . We recently picked upa '67 Safari...the price was right and Im looking forward to gutting and restoring it! Good luck with what ever you find!
Jay (KB8VMO)
WBCCI #10917
AIR #32349
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