We’re traveling the country in a 1969 21′ Globetrotter Airstream travel trailer. More about our trip on The Kelleys page.
Below are pictures of our vintage Airstream when we bought it, and here is the the story of how we bought it.
The Buy Story
I was amazed at the competitiveness of the vintage Airstream market, especially for Airstream trailers in the $15,000 – $30,000 range. Within this range, it appears you can purchase a vintage Airstream in decent condition, certainly not mint.
I scanned the classifieds on Craigslist and RV sites for weeks, looking for suitable trailers within 400 miles of Raleigh, NC.
A suitable trailer met the following criteria:
Price: Less than $30,000
Length: 20-25 feet
Dry weight: Less than 4,500 lbs
Year: 1970’s or newer
Condition: Trailerable and livable
I reached out to dozens of sellers by phone and email. Many sellers never responded. Several Airstreams had been sold by the time I called, often just days after an ad had been posted. A few sellers took time to talk with me about their trailers, and only two committed to appointments to show me the trailer, one seller in DC and the other in Miami (which soon thereafter took her trailer off the market).
For the Washington, DC appointment, I drove over three hours to a campground to inspect the trailer, a 24 foot Argosy that was cold and wet on the interior. I didn’t buy that trailer because of a bent axle, among other issues, but the experience helped me better know what I wanted to buy.
About a week later, after many late nights scouring Craigslist and other sites for Airstreams for sale, an ad popped up in the “nearby” results for a 1969 21′ Globetrotter in Wallace, NC.
I called the day I saw the ad, which was within 24 hours of the ad being posted. The initial call led me to believe that the trailer would fit our family’s needs, and it was clear there were numerous inbound inquiries from other potential buyers. I told the sellers I would be there at 8am to see the trailer.
I rolled east down the highway towards Wallace in the dim morning sunrise and drizzling rain. After a thirty minute inspection and a discussion with the seller about some known repairs needed, I made an offer of $19,500 against at $20,000 asking price.
A handshake sealed the deal. By the end of the day, I had a notarized title and the Airstream sitting in my driveway.
Probably should have taken the wife, Katie, to pump the brakes on the rash decision making. I don’t know if I got a deal or way overpaid, but the trailer met most of my criteria and I wasn’t going to let it slip away.
With 47 years of wear on her skin and finishings, she needs some TLC and mechanical work to be road worthy and livable. However, she has some new major systems, such as AC, hot water tank, and refrigerator, and she will work just fine for a home away from home for the next year or so.
Things to Fix Up
While the Airstream was reasonably livable when we bought it, I couldn’t help myself from engaging in some DIY fixer upper tasks.
With only one to two hours per day for a few weeks, I can’t get too deep, but I am making some modifications, such as ripping out the furnace to build a pantry and upgrading the oven and stovetop.
Will post after pictures soon, but here are the before pictures.
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