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hampstead38 06-29-2008 01:53 PM

What should we pay?
My wife and I are in a position to buy a travel trailer for a six- to 12-month "sabbatical" road trip. After doing some shopping, we think we can make the 25' Airstream Safari SE work (although we're tall enough to find the shower and bed a bit short). Given the soft economy, price of fuel and coming of the 2009 Flying Clouds, we thought we might be able to get a decent deal on a 2008 (although we have no objection to something "gently used" as my wife calls it). Colonial in NJ has a 2008 listed for $51,000. Is this a reasonable price or is there some "flex"? Are we better off waiting to see if the economy results in some used trailers hitting the market? Thank you in advance for any thoughts.

Melody Ranch 06-29-2008 02:01 PM

Check the classifieds here
A 25' SE is for sale here now. LOTS less expensive....if thats important to you.

hampstead38 06-29-2008 02:07 PM

When you say "here," do you mean on this website? If so, can you direct me?

And, yes, the more we save on buying the Airstream, the longer we can stay "on the road." By the way, thanks for the quick response.

azflycaster 06-29-2008 02:55 PM

Click on the "classifieds" tab at the top of the page...

2airishuman 06-29-2008 02:57 PM


Originally Posted by hampstead38 (Post 583324)
... better off waiting to see if the economy...

hi hampstead and welcome to the forums...

pricing is a VERY common question here, so just scan the many threads in these buyer guidelines...

or get adventuresome and search terms like discount, pricing, markup and so on....

here is ONE useful thread 4 ya, because it is still relevant and $ is but ONE of the many important issues when buying.

YOU are an ECONOMY of ONE!

currently a dealer OWNS the unit in question and very likely knows exactly how much $$ he has in it.

he may not know how much he'll sell it for yet,

but i doubt discussing the current or future u.s. financial picture will move him much.

discounts from msrp vary WIDELY (0-35+%) and sales at a loss occasionally happen...

much of this depends on HOW YOU handle the contact sport of buyingnselling...

and while this thread may not be useful on pricing, it is an example of looking and looking and looking...

and don't forget to read a few of THESE threads, before buying an ANY price...


hampstead38 06-29-2008 04:41 PM

Thanks for the links. You are right. The general discussion is useful. My general impression is that the savvy buyer can expect to receive a discount of between 15 and 25 percent of MSRP from a dealer, although this varies by area, model, circumstances, etc. Buying new means a warranty, but reading a bit further, I'm not sure the Airstream warranty is always "all that and a side of fries." My gut sense is that if the economy continues to founder, it will be a decent time to shop for Airstreams. I'm not sure the dealers will flex much, but there may be an increase in the number of private sellers. Of course, there is a different cost/benefit analysis for the old "as is" purchase.

I have restored an old pick up truck and renovated two houses... so my wife would like me to consider something a bit more "vintage." She's not a huge fan of the interior materials on the new Airstreams. And I think she would like to try a bit of interior decorating. We were out kicking some tires this weekend and she saw an old Excella she liked. I'm not sure this is the right place, but do you have any thoughts on going new (or nearly new) versus the older girls?

2airishuman 06-29-2008 04:58 PM


Originally Posted by hampstead38 (Post 583423) you have any thoughts on going new (or nearly new) versus the older girls?

not any NEW thoughts...

but here are a few old ones on the topic....

with LINKS (inside the LINKS) to other threads within the LINKS...

generally the best value will be a lightly used recent trailer or a 70s unit with a SOLID frame/floor, or a 'barn find' old one...

while professionally tricked out old stuff and recent OR old stuff that is in need of a shell off redo...

are just as expensive as the new ones, but with no warranty (except maybe new appliances)

read, go look at trailers, ALL of them u can from any era...


hampstead38 06-29-2008 05:21 PM

You are the Encyclopedia Airtanica. Of course, if you are of my kids' generation, that particular reference (no pun intended) may be a bit obtuse.

By the way, I have read your comments on the various threads. They have been very insightful. My wife and I have spent a fair amount of time home shopping over the years. She's the "look and feel" person. I'm the one crawling in the odd corners looking for wiring and plumbing that's not "to code." Airstream has a good reputation, but it seems clear that they are not immune to the corner-cutting of modern industry. It's a shame, really, because given the money, one would think they could do everything absolutely top drawer.

cameront120 06-29-2008 06:23 PM


Originally Posted by hampstead38 (Post 583423)
... do you have any thoughts on going new (or nearly new) versus the older girls?

I'll answer your question with a question, or two.

How much time and money do you want to spend before the trailer is truly roadworthy? Would you prefer to spend more for a new(er) trailer and be able to use it immediately?

hampstead38 06-29-2008 08:32 PM

Our "hiatus" does not officially begin until our youngest daughter graduates in the spring of 2011. That's not to say we wouldn't prefer having the trailer much sooner. As for "truly roadworthy," not to sound short, but if something isn't a rock solid 100 percent, I won't pull it.

As for budget, when my wife and I started our background research, we were both biased by a long-time admiration for Airstreams. Her grandmother always wanted one and never managed to afford it. Compared to the modern tin most folks pull, Airstreams generally have the most character and charm. We love trains and the Airstreams remind us both of old Pullman cars (with some of the advantages and disadvantages).

Our unofficial budget is $50,000, cash-on-the-barrelhead. This doesn't include some changes I plan to make to our tow vehicle or the usual "outfitting." Based on my snooping around, this would probably allow us to get into a new 25' Safari or thereabouts. Now, my wife has noticed that my over-six-foot tall frame and size 14 feet hang over the edge of the "queen" bed in the Safari and she giggled when she saw me standing the shower. Fortunately, we were at the dealer and I was fully clothed, otherwise she might have been rolling on the floor. She has suggested we might find an older tin girl that could be tweaked to better accommodate our dimensions. (She is a tall woman herself). Since there are only two of us traveling, we really don't need to worry about accommodating anyone else. Since I have restored a few older things (houses, cars, etc.), I know there are advantages to a restoration... and there are those moments where you question your very sanity.

So, Cameron, getting the trailer fast is much less important than getting the trailer right (or getting the right trailer). We could wait 18 to 24 months (if necessary) and if the end result made my lovely bride happy. If I started talking about spending more than $50,000, I would have to do some very fast talking... the kind men usually have to do when it comes to necessities like roadsters, tractors or playoff tickets.

whitsend 06-29-2008 09:25 PM

My 2 cents worth? You have the luxury of time and as you say, the faltering economy could very well work to your advantage. I'd use that time to find the trailer size that best suits you & your wife's needs. If either of you have hobbies you want to take along (ie if the wife is a quilter?), that becomes important in terms of storage. And yes, the "RV queen" bed leaves a bit to be desired, but I learned to make it work. You might find letting someone else eat the initial depreciation leaves a shekle or two for other fun things.
Good luck in your search. One thing is for certain, you won't regret owning an Airstream!!

cameront120 06-29-2008 09:32 PM

I'm 6'-3" and have headroom clearance in my '72 Tradewind (25'). The beds are a little short, but being single allows me to sleep on the diagonal!

hampstead38 06-29-2008 09:55 PM

I have to say, Cameron, I'm leaning towards staying married and finding a way to make the bed a little longer. I guess one of the appeals in renovating a vintage trailer (versus the "off-the-lot" approach) is the chance to make a few of those changes.

And, Whit, thanks for the vote of confidence. I grew up poor and spent a good number of years pinching the buffalo off the nickel. Through hard work and more than our fair share of good luck, we've come to a point where we can start buy what we want rather than what we can afford. If we're going to take some time off after the kids have left the nest, I want to enjoy the experience. I think we can make a 25' trailer work for our hiatus... and I'd prefer to keep it about that length with a modest dry weight to avoid buying a new two vehicle. It's just a question of fine tuning the interior a bit, I suppose.

ROBERTSUNRUS 06-29-2008 10:24 PM

Bed and Shower?
:) Hi, hampstead38. I guess with a little work and $$$$$$$ you could make room for a longer bed, but I'm curious on how you plan to make the shower taller. Dropped floor? Bubble top? Sky light? Or Raise the body higher on the frame? $$$$$$$

hampstead38 06-29-2008 10:32 PM

Robert, the least expensive route is probably just wait for my wife to cut me down to size. :)

The bed seems relatively straightforward. I haven't quite figure out the shower, but like most guys with tools and curiosity, thinking about how to solve impossible problems is half the fun.

Let me reframe this a bit. If we're going to drop 50 large for a new Safari, I'm just going to trim my hair short, slouch and generally think shorter thoughts... at least in the shower. If we're going to spend $5k or $10k on a vintage AS with "good bones," I'm probably going to find some folks who are more smarter and more experienced than I am on vintage trailer restorations and ask them what they think. And maybe what they'll think is that my wife should work harder in cutting me down to size. :)

SilverToy 06-29-2008 10:37 PM

Just a thought.....

Reading the thread with interest as I too looked for quite a long time before jumping in and buying MY AirStream. Actually, I think that my AirStream selected me.... I have a '92 34' Classic Limited - Towed by a '01 Suburban 2500 4x4 6L.

You are right to spend plenty of time here, asking questions - about towing, weights, Tow vehicles, layouts, appliances, solar, generators, etc....

There is SO much more to having a TT that you actually USE as opposed to most folks that buy and park and DON'T use.....or use once in a while.

I gather from your questions/comments so far, that once time allows, you and the missus are OTTA HERE! That means daily and prolonged use....

Consider your space and use requirements carefully. Usually, more is better, but then everyone is different. This is an exercise that few if any folks REALLY engage in..... This causes 'upgrade' fever (at the expense of depreciation), and general un-happiness and subsequent lessor use of said TT....There is also, the occational 'down-grade' to a smaller trailer (again there is often a $ cost).

The opposite of your seeming intended objective....

Spend all the time and attention that you can here at ASF. Read everything about late model, vintage, generators, maintenance, TV's, and TV's + satellite, and then there is ALL the OTHER STUFF....!!!!

Look at EVERY unit that you can. Go to every local event - go inside every trailer that folks will let you set foot in. Just cause they look the same from the outside DOES NOT MEAN they are the same inside - vintage and all others! Travel to some of the non-local events, both ASF and WBCCI. Just more opportunity to see more units.

All this will whittle itself down quite quickly..... you and the SO will find that this or that "click" and make your heart go pitty-pat. When you find what makes you happy - that is when you can start the search in earnest.

Having seen LOTS of TT's in various states of repair (or not) will tell you if what you are looking at/considering, is worth what they are asking.... It will also allow you to have a better idea if there are upgrades you cannot live without, what it will take to incorperate that and the likely cost associated with that.

The more info the better! If there are ANY red flags as you walk through a unit you are considering, RUN!!!! There will be another unit.

I think that you are approaching your process in quite a well thought out way. All the best, and remember..... once you get Aluminitis, there is NO CURE!

We are all here to support you in this process!


PS - I am located in NVa and would love to have you walk thru my SilverToy, if you are interested!

DEITZ645 06-30-2008 07:39 AM

Welcome Aboard
Welcome aboard, and it’s nice to see some more east coasters on the forum. You have definitely come to the right place for help, direction, and inspiration.
I will ask the stupid question. Have you ever RV camped before? If you haven't I would suggest renting an RV to make sure that it is something that you and the Mrs. enjoy. I would hate to see anybody plunk down the change required to purchase an Airstream only to find out the RV'ing lifestyle ain't for them.
Mind you I do not want to dissuade anybody from purchasing an Airstream, it is probably the best purchase we have ever made. It is all my wife and I think about anymore...When is the next time we can go camping? Plus we are scheming, trying to come up with ideas that will allow us to full-time.
For your budget you should be able to get a newer trailer that will be nice. There are older units out there that aren't exactly vintage in the strictest sense of the word, but are very solid units and easy to "get into". I would suggest the mid 1980's to the mid 1990’s. They can usually be found in good condition with just enough work needed to allow you to become familiar with the Airstreams, their inner workings, and construction.
Good luck in your search and keep us posted.

hampstead38 06-30-2008 08:55 AM

Growing up, my father followed the amateur rodeo circuit. We spent every summer weekend banging around the inland northwest in an rickety 8' truck camper. (The horses traveled in the much nicer trailer.) To put myself through college, I spent time logging while in a travel trailer. I also spent three years onboard a Navy ship, but I wouldn't count that as an "RV." As a lifelong hunter, I've spent a fair amount of time in various "lash ups" including travel trailers, canvas wall tents and such. As a couple, my wife and I have extensive camping experience, but little with RVs. Of course, my thought is a rainy week in an Airstream is likely to be a bit more comfortable than a rainy week in a tent.

When my wife was young, she and her family took some epic road trips, mostly in a VW Westfalia. With our youngest daughter moving towards her high school graduation in a few years, we had long planned to relocate somewhere in the west closer to my ancestral home. Somewhere along the line, we started thinking, rather than just move and jump into new jobs, why not take a few months and travel the country? We had talked about a little travel trailer because, frankly, I'm a little more inclined to comfort than I was 20 years ago.

There are many things I can find to worry about, but spending months on the road with my wife (who is also my best friend) is not one of them. Even if the wheels fall off and the thing bursts into flames (which would be pretty impressive to see), we'll be just fine.

Honestly, there are any number of ubiquitous white box with wheels that would serve as perfectly adequate travel trailers. We have walked through a number of trailer and fivers that would be comfortable... even if sitting in them I feel like I have time traveled back to 1978. This said, they generate no excitement, at least for me and my lovely bride. "Dropping out," even for a few months, is probably foolish at our age. If we're going to be foolish, my instinct is to be foolish in style... thus we have found our way here.

Added: During the summer/fall, we plan on stopping by a few events. Hopefully, we'll bump into some folks from this forum.

ebair 06-30-2008 10:26 AM

To echo a previous post, I gently urge you to look at the larger units. The queen bed and sit down shower are usable enough for my 76" 260 lb frame and the ability to have enough storage room for the accoutrement's of a long road trip is quickly appreciated.
Not to mention that in gently experienced condition they seem to be better value per foot of length.
A rainy day (or week) can be quite pleasant if you have room to strech out.

DEITZ645 06-30-2008 10:34 AM

So you've been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt - So that's one less thing to worry about.:lol:

We purchased our ’06 from DJ RV in Danville, PA. They have since stopped carrying the Airstream line, because they cannot compete with Colonial in New Jersey. DJ Still has two Airstreams on their lot. They are both ‘07’s. One is a 25’ International SS (Sleep Six) in Ocean Breeze The other is 27’ Safari Front Bedroom in Kiwi. They are both at the upper end of your price range. I know they have been on the lot for a while and the prices keep coming down, so they may be willing to deal. They may be a little further for you than Colonial, but I drove 8 hours to Sandusky, Ohio to get our ’87 Excella 1000. We will do whacky things to get the Airstreams we want.:o

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