Are Airstreams Worth The Price?
Airstreams are iconic. Since 1929, these shiny silver trailers have been synonymous with freedom, luxury, and the call of the open road.
Still going strong in popularity today, with new and restored vintage models on the road, this premium trailer has a loyal fan base. But are airstreams worth the price?
Today we’ll discover why Airstream’s are priced at a priemium, discuss the pros & cons, and find out if they’re worth it.
Let’s dive in.
Typical Price of Airstream Campers
Airstreams are on the highest end of the price bracket for comparable size campers. Only a couple of years had slide outs, so the footprint is not all that large as compared to other “box” type trailers that have slides, or 5th wheels.
Of course, the build process and construction is completely different, as is the maintenance and level of interior.
List prices for new Airstreams run from $38,400 for a tiny Basecamp, to Classic which starts at $157,400.
Special upgrades and trim package models like Eddie Bauer are often much more.
Why Do Airstreams Cost So Much?
Well, first, Airstreams are made out of aluminum, which is more expensive than the materials in a typical trailer. The build process of curving and riveting the shiny aluminum is also more labor-intensive.
Axles and electronics are high end. Special curved windows, showers, doors, latches, and other “Airstream only” parts also are more expensive than the mass-produced components.
In addition, interior finishes in Airstreams are known for being the highest end luxury.
The designs are much more modern and sleek, and the finishes and fabrics appeal to a different aesthetic than most other brands of travel trailers.
Of course, the demand and brand itself lend to a higher cost for the “hip” factor.
Do Airstreams Hold Their Value?
Yes they do!
If you shop for a used or even vintage Airstream, they are still very valuable. And, they are still priced higher than comparable trailers.
Even gutted shells are quite expensive, and the parts market is strong as well. Many of these trailers are used for boutiques, food trucks, and other business ventures due to their attractive qualities.
In fact, we paid $3,000 for a gutted Airstream (and it was considered a good deal).
Pros of Airstream Campers
Airstreams are cool! If you want an iconic brand and lots of attention, Airstreams appeal to that vibe.
They also have a “club” whether officially (Wally Byam club) or unofficially (FB groups, local clubs, campouts or just waving on the highway), there are other people to bond with over your love for everything shiny and silver.
Airstreams also last a lot longer than box build trailers.
Due to construction types and the aluminum framing, they don’t rust or decay as much as steel and wood trailers, which is why Airstream estimates that 65% of all Airstreams built are still on the road! Components are still available for most things that need replacing, even in vintage models, so fixing up a very old trailer can be a worthwhile endeavor.
There are many vintage Airstream enthusiasts, including a few celebrities like Matthew McConaughey and Miranda Lambert, and they have starred in numerous movies and music videos. You can’t say that about your average camper brand.
Because of the rounded outside, Airstreams are very aerodynamic, making them easier to tow and lighter weight than some other similar size trailers.
Their interiors are also more open, light, spacious, and sleek than most other trailer brands. They have top of the line electronic and solar options, and multiple layouts to fit today’s camping style, whether that is a snowbird couple or a hip nomad work remote vibe.
Airstream has a lot of fan and owner “cool” factor. The factory or “Mothership” in Jackson Center, Ohio, has historic artifacts and a museum, there are numerous online communities and events nation (and world) wide, and you can take your trailer to the factory for warranty work and stay on the grounds.
There is truly no other camper brand that has built such a loyal community as Airstream.
Cons of Airstream Campers
Well, they do cost more.
In addition, if you want to keep the outside looking shiny, eventually you have to polish the trailer, which is very labor-intensive or expensive, often up to $100-$150 a foot.
New Airstreams are not quite the same quality level as the older ones as they have sped up the process and tried to increase production after being bought by Thor. Having work done is sometimes a challenge, as they aren’t the same systems-wise or repair style as other campers, so you need to have someone familiar with the brand work on the trailer.
Fixing aluminum dents is a very expensive and labor-intensive project, and they dent easily due to the soft aluminum and the curved nature of the walls.
Airstreams aren’t for those with huge families, as they don’t sleep many people for the size and don’t have slide-outs to increase floor space. They also aren’t the best for heavy duty off-road use as the aluminum is easily scratched and dented, and they don’t hold many solar panels due to the curved roofline.
We wrote an article about the 5 Reasons to Avoid Airstream Trailers that dives deeper into the cons.
Are Airstreams Worth the Price?
If you are a person that is attracted to an Airstream’s iconic personality and look, and don’t have a very large family, yes they are!
The demand, resale value, community and cool factor can’t be beat by any other trailer manufacturer.
Airstreams are the epitome of America made freedom, the representation allure of the open road, iconic camping lifestyle. If the sleek shiny exterior and premium finishes appeal to you, and your family fits into the Airstream lifestyle, Airstreams are definitely worth the premium price tag to be part of the legendary brand.
Brands like the Living Vehicle RV are trying to break through into the aluminum RV space, but the MSRP on those units is double the price of an Airstream!
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).
You should give it a try!
As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site!
We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:
The 5 Best Vintage Airstream Renovations - Drivin' & Vibin'
Thursday 9th of December 2021
[…] Pro Tip: If you don’t have an Airstream of your own to adventure in, check out Airstreams Virtual Tour of Yellowstone National Park. […]
Wednesday 21st of October 2020
We have one, and I can tell you, I have wanted one since I was a kid. I had no idea what the price/value was when we started looking to buy. Ours is a 2010, and nowhere near what the prices are now new. Snob factor? Think of it more like people who love classic cars. Oh, how I wish I still had one my cars, ‘66 VW Bug, ‘68 Camaro, ‘69 Chevelle SS. 😊. Airstream isn’t for everybody, but if you have one, you understand the attraction.
Wednesday 21st of October 2020
Seems by reading this, its like trying to keep a image and personal pride. Sounds to me like it would be for wealthy snobs. Im sure some people actually just like them, but I bet most buy them for their own personal ego maybe?
Wednesday 21st of October 2020
Airstreams, at least the classic ones, are also far less succeptable to cross winds