It was not on our mind to look for vintage Airstreams when we initially started our search. After seeing a video of someone renovating a vintage trailer, we decided to explore the possibility. Our first thought was to look for one because we were surprised at how modern and different some of those vintage remodels were. Being involved in the construction of your absolute dream trailer gives you a sense of connection to your rig.
In If you have the time and skills to remodel it yourself, a vintage Airstream would probably be the best option. In the end, we partnered with a restoration company since we lacked the skills and knowledge to do that ourselves.
- Remodeling time: Depending on the physical condition of your trailer and your time commitment, a restoration project may take anywhere from 6-18 months. A professional contractor may be able to finish the work in less than six months if you work on it daily.
- The best places to find: Craigslist, Airstream Hunter, Airstream Classifieds, or Facebook marketplace are all good places to find old Airstreams. Make sure you see the product before you buy it. Some vintage trailers can be found that have been on the road for 40 or 50 years, and they still look the same as they did when they were first purchased. There are still more than 75% of Airstreams that were created over the past century.
- Expertise: You will need electrical, plumbing, metal working, and carpentry skills.
- Challenges: Do not purchase an item without seeing it first. The subfloor or water damage can be challenging and costly (for example, there may be leaks or serious issues with the frame). To see it before you buy it, you should purchase a plane ticket. Please ask the owner to plug in the device for 30 minutes and pretend that you are camping. In addition, ensure that the trailer is structurally sound. You are seeking a trailer in the best possible condition.
- Learning curve: Designing and remodeling your trailer can be very rewarding and allows you to gain a lot of knowledge along the way.
- Being unique: That’s my favorite part! Your Airstream is unique, so it has a high resale value. Restored vintage Airstreams can fetch $80k-$100k. As far as the layout and interior of the trailer goes, you can make it as you like it (I love the fact that I was able to design the layout and configuration for the trailer).
- Availability: In general, older and smaller Airstreams are more expensive. Rarer and more expensive are older Airstreams, especially those built prior to 1970. Trailers with original appliances, paint, lights, and floors typically command higher prices.
- Cost: Airstream shells range in price from thousands to twelve thousand dollars. DIY restorations can cost less than $10k and more than $40k, whereas professional restorations can cost $40k-100k-all depends on the desired outcome and materials you are using.