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Old 11-22-2013, 07:15 AM   #1
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1981 31' Excella II
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Used trailers and what they are asking for junk

I have been spending a little time on Craigs list and the stuff I am seeing is ridiculous. These folks pay too much for a used trailer then rip all the stuff out of it, and ask more for it that they paid for a complete trailer. I am seeing lots of gutted 70's trailers for $5000 or more. I saw one trailer in Nashville that was an aborted food trailer project and they wanted $11,000 for it. It supposedly has a new floor but otherwise gutted to the outer skin. I would not give you $5000 for a fully functional 70's trailer much less a gutted one. You will spend much more on one of these turkeys than getting one that is in better shape for $10-$15k. These gutted trailers are worth maybe $1000-$1500. If it is on the east coast even that is too much because it will have a rotten frame and it won't even make a good junk storage trailer.

My advice is hold out for a good one and take your time. This is assuming you want to eventually camp in it and don't just want a project. Funny thing is, I never see gutted AVIONS. You think that is because they never get to this state?

Perry
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Old 11-22-2013, 07:48 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
I have been spending a little time on Craigs list and the stuff I am seeing is ridiculous.
You think that's bad? Try looking for boats. Before I wised up and bought my Airstream, my eventual retirement plan had been to purchase a modest-sized live-aboard boat and cruise America's Great Loop. One of my coworkers kept telling me about these "great boats" available on Craigslist, but every time I checked on one of them, I found something so unseaworthy that I wouldn't trust it as a bathtub toy, let alone live aboard.

And it seems that they're always trying to recoup every penny they ever spent on the item, whether the expense added to the value of the item or not. And with no consideration for depreciation, either.
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Old 11-22-2013, 08:17 AM   #3
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I found my 1978 Avion model 28.5 M. Here on the gulf coast. Body was in great shape, every appliance worked, couch needed re-upholstering. Surely it needed stuff, but was well worth the price.
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Old 11-22-2013, 08:20 AM   #4
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I found my 1978 Avion model 28.5 M. Here on the gulf coast. Body was in great shape, every appliance worked, couch needed re-upholstering. Surely it needed stuff, but was well worth the price.
I'm sure there are Craigslist success stories like yours, but my less-than-exemplary experience with Craigslist has convinced me to never buy off Craigslist. But that's just my personal opinion, not meant as advice to anyone else.
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Old 11-22-2013, 08:49 AM   #5
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It varies. I almost got a great Curtis Wright #5 off CL for $1,500 a few weeks ago (long, miserable story - don't make me retell it). My current trailer was worth more than I paid for it when I bought it.

I have also seen grossly overpriced trailers like you mention as well and had my own thread with the same surprise as yours.

It varies. Some folks just want to get rid of them, some watch an American Pickers episode and think they're worth a lot, or see an eBay post for a very rare trailer that looks a lot like their trailer. I just leave them be.

I once saw a trailer that was grossly overpriced and the guy did some pretty dumb stuff to it. I emailed him because it seemed like the way it was written, the owner seemed well intentioned. The trailer had been listed for some time. I emailed him some pointers and links to Airstream valuations. He thanked me and said he'd probably lower the price (by about $4k. He then emailed me the next week and said he was glad he procrastinated, as someone paid his asking price. I apologized for having brought it up. He said he was happy I did, because now he realized he made a great sale.

I do think the prices are going up though. I'm seeing little blurbs about different remodelers getting into it, so there is more appeal. Airforums.com and Vintage trailer supply has a lot to do with it. 8 years ago, only a handfull of people could do this. Now, just about anyone.

I'm building my own black and gray tanks. I replaced my toilet as well, but now with 3d printing, I may have had my impossible part 3d printed for my old toilet. I wish I had at this point, though my new toilet is much more comfortable.
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Old 11-22-2013, 08:55 AM   #6
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I suppose things are worth what people will pay for them. When I was looking for my trailer, I searched everywhere (ebay, C-list, etc.). I found trailers that got bid up on ebay (sight unseen) to prices that I figured were about twice what they should be (having actually seen them). It's like the stock market and the gamble that there will be a "greater fool" tomorrow who will pay more for the stock than you did, even though there are no fundamentals to justify the value of the stock.
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:02 AM   #7
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We had only been looking for a couple of years when we bought the caravel and for the condition it was way overpriced but she wanted it and the rest was history. I have been noticing that the prices have climbed in just the past 13 months complete 70's airstream 24 to 31 feet from 1250. To 4500. Now 5000. Starting for a soft floored dented partially gutted project and there is no OBO on most of them! Face it airstreams are hot right now but it's all good because what goes up will eventually come back down hard!
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:08 AM   #8
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bottom fishing

Thats what I call it. They throw out a line and hope someone will bite. Sometimes they do. Then, again, many of those high priced sales on EBAY or Graigs will show up again in a couple weeks when the seller realizes it was a bogus sale. Don't get me wrong, I like the increased value, however, many asking WAY to much are contributing to the death of our Airstream way of life. Then there are those paying to much without realizing the time and costs involved then have to abandon it all in desperation .and thats another story. Look at our own Classifieds today and see what I mean.
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:19 AM   #9
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I think the price of new ones effects the price of used ones-
With new ones from $40,000-$100,000-
I tried to buy a used 1988 34', but the man wanted $18,000- you can only borrow $3,000 to buy that trailer-
It is easier if you do not have cash to finance a new one-
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:44 AM   #10
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It's true, Airstreams are a hot item now.
I see aficionados and collectors hoarding them here on these forums further driving up prices.
Note worthy is that I see that there are a lot of people who don't have the first idea of what "maintenance" means. These people use these things like lawn bling but can't get off their AS's in front of the boob tube to actually do anything meaning full.
I posted a WTB on Craigslist, got a message within 5 hrs, showed up and paid cash on the spot at full MSRP with no negotiation because it was only a couple hours from my place (location is crucial due to the cost of delivery long distance). I've since spent probably 5K to get it as near perfect as possible and figure a couple grand a year to keep it up. None of which I figure I can recoup if I sold it. At least I'm living in it which off sets the up keep by a high margin.
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:57 AM   #11
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We looked at one "in good condition" before we bought ours. This one was an early 80s 25' or so, something like that, and it was basically a complete interior overhaul situation - the flooring had been replaced but it was done shoddily, the fridge didn't work so they just started using coolers, the table was broken, one tire was flat, there was caulk slathered on the inside of one of the front windows, the propane tanks hadn't been updated to the newer valves ("You can still get them filled anywhere!"), and many other issues. I think he was asking $8,000 for it.

The worst part for me was that he insisted the tires were fine, but one was flat, and all four had massive signs of dry rot. I wasn't sure the tires would make it to the nearest tire shop, let alone any farther. (The worst part for my wife was the flooring - they left a huge hole in the flooring in the bathroom.)

One other thing...if you're going to be selling your camper, please have it cleared out, like you're actually ready to sell it. Sheesh.

For Craigslist, there's a lot of crap and scams, but there are some gems, too. Unfortunately when I was selling our B190, the ad was marked as a scam, which it most definitely was not. I reposted it and got some ridiculous lowball offers.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:08 AM   #12
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Cool & Rising Prices

This is all too familiar a theme for me. I was involved with vintage Porsches (longhoods from 1967-1973) for many years. When I started with them it was possible to buy a nice '72 911S for under $30,000, which was a lot of car for the money. The hobby was frequented by true enthusiasts who loved to fix up the cars themselves: weekend racing, restorations, hot-rodding, auto-cross - mostly DIY stuff. Not anymore.

Someone decided these cars were cool. That under $30,000 car went to $200,000. It ruined the hobby for me as the enthusiasts were repaced by open checkbook poseurs, wannabes and status chasers - and the inevitable money-changers. The enthusiasts watched prices climb and made many of the same comments that we see here. And most moved out of the hobby.

I bought my old Airstream for under $20,000. I think Airstreams are way cool - here's hoping they don't become *too* cool. I love this group of true enthusiasts and would hate to see it change.

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Old 11-22-2013, 10:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
I would not give you $5000 for a fully functional 70's trailer much less a gutted one.
Perry
so what do you not like about 70s trailers? There are a lot of great ones out there. Granted they had issues, but so do most.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:29 AM   #14
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The prices on the Forums classifieds seem generally pretty high to me. You often have listings by people who have only joined the Forums to list this one trailer.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:33 AM   #15
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Buying an Airstream on Ebay

When buying a used Airstream it takes time to understand the value proposition and sort the good from the bad.

We bought ours from an eBay seller after looking for over a year. Prior to finding our keeper, we traveled to view a number of Craigslist, Airforums classified, and eBay units that looked good in pictures and sounded good on the phone but had significant problems upon physical inspection. Each time we inspected and uncovered defects, we walked away. One thing I did learn from these aborted purchases, most of the inflated prices will come down considerably with a little negotiation on the phone. Once the defects are uncovered, the sellers are usually willing to discount further off the phone negotiated price if you are standing in front of them and are willing to buy the trailer with the now known defect.

There is also a time factor involved in these negotiations. Those testing the waters with inflated prices either quickly find an easy mark or find themselves going nowhere with an inflated price. After a few weeks they are usually willing to deal with reality and seriously negotiate a dramatic price reduction. If not, the buyer should walk.

In our case the eBay trailer met our requirements but the "buy now" price was more than we wanted to pay and a few thousand above what we thought was a fair price despite the apparent excellent condition of the unit. We looked at photos, talked to the owner by phone, and drove 554 miles to inspect the trailer. The inspection uncovered no defects. We returned home and placed a bid $13,000 under the "buy now" price. Our bid was about $3000 under what a year of looking told us was a fair price for a 3 year old trailer with minimal use (owner told us it had only been used 5 times). Our bid price, if accepted, would give us a great deal, plus allow us to spend $3000 to $5000 on potential repairs plus replace the tires and wheels.

The auction ended and we were the high bidder but hadn't met the reserve. The owner called me asking if I was still interested. I told him I was at the right price. He told me his reserve was $3000 below the "buy now" price. I told him I could go $3000 higher than my bid but that was all. He advised me he could go $2000 below the reserve but that was it. I told him I was at my limit. He thanked me and said goodbye. Two days later he called asking if I was till interested. I said yes and we made the deal at my price, subject to an inspection by the local Airstream dealer.

The seller took the trailer to the Airstream dealer. I called the dealer and made arrangements for a full inspection at my expense ($300). The dealer identified a few small issues, including a tear in the awning fabric, which the seller paid to repair. I agreed to go ahead with the purchase, bought the trailer, and picked it up.

Unfortunately, the dealer did not identify the floor rot or leaks, something I specifically asked them to look for when I agreed to pay for the inspection. On our second outing the dinette table support leg broke through the rotten floor on a three year old trailer. We took the trailer to the factory in Jackson Center where 1/3 of the plywood flooring was replaced and a number of leaks were sealed. Fortunately, Airstream had agreed to perform the work for a pre negotiated price and the price we paid for the trailer had room for repair work to be performed. In the end, after paying for the repairs, we acquired the trailer for a fair price, but not a "deal".

My advice to those buying a slightly used recent model Airstream is be patient and look at several before making an offer, do your research and get a feel for the real market price, make sure the price you end up paying allows a few thousand dollars for unexpected repairs. Have any repair work done by the factory if you can (my experience with 3 different dealers is poor, including some who get raves on this forum). Based on my poor experience with a large Airstream dealer performing an inspection, I'd say having a dealer inspection of a used trailer is a waste of money.

Enjoy camping in your Airstream. Even with the occasional maintenance issue, the lifestyle is great!
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:16 AM   #16
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so what do you not like about 70s trailers? There are a lot of great ones out there. Granted they had issues, but so do most.
I personally love the 70's trailers having owned a 77 Sovereign which is suppose to be one of the worst models. I guess I got lucky as the floor and frame were in great shape although it wasn't perfect it was a great first trailer for me. I now own a sweet 78 Safari and what a great trailer. I also own a 59er Overlander and a 63 Tradewind which both need a ton of work but are considered by many to be among the best years made.
They are worth what someone will pay for them, hopefully less when we are looking to buy and more when we sell.
Just my opinion.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:06 PM   #17
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I've got a complete '72 29' AS (slightly bent) 'parts trailer' that came off Craigslist for $1500. I meant to strip and salvage/scrap it out but have not had the heart to even remove or exchange one piece. Funny how that goes! I figure getting it off blocks and pointed down the driveway would cost someone $2000 now

The 'flagging' of Craigslist posts is a scam in its own right, people who spot a deal they're interested in can block their competition from seeing the ad.

And there are self-selected content censors who will object if you write too much information, details on condition that confuse a paint-chip eating high school drop out ARE frowned on. When I sold my 50-mpg Geo Metro the eventual buyer HAD the first copy printed it out when it existed for less than 30 minutes before flagging. Took three tries to get a posted ad-copy to live for a day. I've got no doubt the buyer, or his wife etc. flagged it. Repeatedly.

Everyone must be careful not to project or embrace stereotypes. Each Airstream is unique. If the day comes when someone is surveying my 'project trailer' for purchase and they utter 'gutted worth less' it will earn them an invite to exit the property immediately without another word.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:10 PM   #18
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The Traveling Medicine Show

AKA: The Internet

Talk about Different Day Same Stuff... The internet has made bargain hunters of us all, but it has also allowed every honest businessman, every well-meaning idiot and every outright crook to purport to be the new internet version of the old Sears & Roebucks mail order catalog.

The rude fact is that many internet sites are completely criminal enterprises. Remember a few years back when there was a merchant in the NYC area who was at the top of many internet searches because FEEDBACK was counted, and not whether it was negative or positive. I think all of the search engines changed as a result of the news services publicly skewering that one. Using ebay or craigslist is just cheaper and faster than setting up your own website - and it is harder to catch the bad guys.

In the 1980's Sears (nee & Roebucks) reprinted one of their earliest mail order catalogs. It was fascinating to see some of the stuff they sold - especially the patent medicines like codeine and opium pills - absolutely legally. That company spent years establishing a reputation of "What you see is what you get". Why did it take years? Because to most consumers they didn't trust anything they couldn't see, feel, smell and evaluate personally

The traveling medicine show - over time killed itself - because people who bought the magic tonic realized it didn't work - and that the peddler couldn't be brought to justice for serious problems caused by the ingredients that DID work which were usually alcohol and laudanum (opium/morphine).

Today's traveling medicine show is the internet. It's almost sad that companies like Amazon exist because they give the internet buying experience a good name. It is truly the wild wild west out there when you trust ANY company on the internet. Ebay and Craigslist are the NORM not the exception.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:57 PM   #19
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I like looking at Craigslist.... my pet peeve is AS advertised as restored or all original and the pictures show hardwood floor and an electric refrigerator from Lowe's.

We got a 1978 Sovereign off of ebay in January 2007 with a BIN of $5,000. My wife and I drove from MO to PA to pick it up. I knew it had a soft spot in the floor --- we ended up doing a shell off, took my wife and I about 6 weeks. The trip back from Lancaster PA was quite the trip. Snow storms-- we got stuck on top of a mountain in the first whiteout we have ever been in.

Now, I know what we got and we love it. I spent about two grand not including new gas/electric dometic. Plus all my labor-- but what's time to a hog?

There are good buys out there, I like the late 70s trailers.
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:10 PM   #20
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It is much easier to shop now, on the internet, than it was 15 or 20 years ago when you had to look in the newspaper ads or go to dealer lots to find a used Airstream locally. Now that it is easier, more people from distant places are aware of and competing for the available trailers. When one finds that one trailer they are looking for, they must move fast. It's a seller's market!

When I bought my first Airstream about 25 years ago, a 1973 30', I really was not looking for an Airstream specifically. It was just dumb luck that I ran across it on a dealer's lot. Other than that first one, all of my prior Airstreams were found on the internet, a 1978 30' and a 1998 30'. I found the 25' and 34' Airstreams I own now on the internet too. I think I paid to much for the 25' since I was in a hurry to get back on the road after a wreck. I think I paid the correct amount on the 34', since I shopped for over a year until I found the one I wanted and considered the owner's price reasonable. Only time (and how much work I have to do) will tell if I am correct in my assumptions.

However, if prices continue to increase like they have recently, I might have made a good "investment" on the two I own now. I might actually get back most of my original cost, 10 or 15 years down the road when I'm to old to tow any longer. Well, I can hope
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