A friend of mine recently caught the Airstream bug. Perhaps you have been infected by it too. I know I have, and I think I’ve probably spread the fever to a few others. I’ve told you before: It is contagious! If you are newly infected with this addiction you may have a lot of questions on how to move forward with your life. How do I pick the right one to buy? What do I look for when inspecting a vintage trailer for purchase? What is a fair price? Where do I find one? I know I asked a lot of those questions when I first became serious about buying an Airstream. My friend has been asking a number of them as well. Following is list of links and information I have gathered over the past couple of years on purchasing a vintage Airstream. The valuable information I learned from my many hours searching these sites helped me feel better prepared to walk into the purchase of my beloved TinCan. I hope you may be able to glean some helpful information from them as well.
Air Forums – Airstream Trailer & Motorhome Owners Community. This forum based website is an incredible resource for any question you may have regarding Airstream ownership. The Airstream owners on the forums are happy to help with any question you may have about Airstream purchases, repairs, and restorations. I’ve learned about winter living, full-timing, polishing, purchasing and more on this site. There is also a listing of members who are willing to inspect a prospective trailer for you if it is located too far from your home. This is a nice option if you find a trailer via Craigslist, eBay or other classifieds.
Vintage Airstream – This site is also a wealth of information when you are looking to buy a vintage Airstream or when you are in the process of restoring one. It features a vintage Airstream price guide, Airstream restoration resources and how to guides, and a link to Airstream Classifieds.
Little Vintage Trailer – Although this site doesn’t specifically deal with Airstreams, the article “10 Things To Look For When Buying A Vintage Trailer” shares several pointers that apply equally to the purchase of a vintage Airstream.
I also recommend following any of the blogs listed on my Airstream Links page. There is quite a community of Airstream people out there who are openly sharing the story of their adventures. Most are honest and open about sharing both the up side and the downside to vintage Airstream ownership and life.
A few tips from my own experience:
1. Be sure to factor the costs for replacement parts and repairs into your purchase budget. The last thing you want is to get home with your new Airstream unable to afford necessary improvements. This especially true if you are planning to move into your vintage Airstream for full-time living. Things will break and repairs will be needed. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is something to prepared for.
2. Craigslist and eBay are great resources in the search for a vintage Airstream. Searching regularly can help you get a good feel for what is available and what pricing to expect. The more you browse the ads on these sites and the other Airstream classifieds out there you will be better equipped to spot a good deal.
3. Most importantly check that the framework is structurally sound. Don’t be afraid to get down on the ground and look around underneath the Airstream you are looking to purchase. Jump on the back bumper to check for rear end separation. If the bumper moves without the body, beware. Rust is to be expected, but excessive rust or corrosion can be a warning sign.
4. I was fortunate enough to buy my TinCan from a wonderful couple who had kept meticulous records on her and all of the improvements they had made in her time in their care. This can be a terrific asset. Even if the one you buy doesn’t come with such documentation, start keeping records of your improvements. This can be helpful for your own records, for insurance valuations, and can be a great selling feature to future buyers (should life lead you to other adventures).
5. Don’t hold back out of fear of what you don’t know. Part of the adventure is learning as you go.
I hope some of this helps in your search for your own TinCan. I love mine and all that I have learned on this adventure with her. Stay tuned for more insights in my next post…So you want to Live in an Airstream?