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Do you have Airstream dreams? If so, chances are you’ve looked at Airstreams for sale. And if you’re doing that, you’re probably wondering: “Why are Airstreams so expensive?!”
When you decide that you are going to purchase an RV, you have only started the decision making process. You will need to decide the size of RV you want, what type you want, and possibly most importantly, you need to decide which brand of RV you are going to purchase.
There are so many different RV brands for you to choose from, and it can be overwhelming for someone who is not familiar with the industry. However, Airstream is a brand that can work for everyone. Although their trailers may be a little more expensive than others, they produce high quality trailers that will fit your needs.
Why Are Airstreams So Expensive? 7 Main Factors:
- Construction Process
- Resale Value
- Reputation / Brand Loyalty
Let’s face it: Airstreams are iconic. The sleek aluminum design of an Airstream RV is the signature look when you think of RVs, Americana style.
In fact, no other RV brand has the brand recognition that Airstream has… and for good reason! Airstream has been around since the 1950s, and in that time they have consistently produced high quality RVs for the American public.
After deciding that you are going to purchase an RV, the first thing you should do is figure out which company you want to purchase from. Airstream should be one of your top contenders because of their high quality trailers. If you end up going with Airstream you will have made an excellent decision.
How Much Do Airstream RVs Cost?
The cheapest model of Airstream you can buy is the Basecamp, and the base model has a starting price of $46,000. The most expensive Airstream trailer is the Classic, and it starts at a price of $188,000 for the base model. (Prices updated for 2023)
Airstream has touring vans, too, and they’re even pricier! Airstreams Class B RVs have a starting price of $147,000 for the Rangeline base model, and goes all the way up to $290,000 for the Atlas base model. (Prices updated for 2023)
Airstream is one of the most popular RV brands in America. As a result, when people are looking for a brand to purchase from, they are the first choice for many people. However, this also means that Airstream has been able to raise their prices above the market value of your average RV. This does mean that some people will be priced out of Airstream RVs. However, for those that can afford an Airstream, they will be satisfied.
So, how expensive are Airstream RVs? Unfortunately, there is not a single price for all the RVs. There are several models and types of RVs and trailers, and each has a separate price. So, we will go over a few of the different models and outline the overall price range for Airstream RVs.
To learn more or price a build yourself, you can compare prices on the Airstream website.
One of the cheapest options for you to purchase is The Base Camp. This trailer has enough seating for five and is one of the smaller options. It is also the cheapest option available at just $46,000.
If you want a trailer that is more middle of the road in terms of price, you can purchase The International Signature or The Tommy Bahama. These trailers can fit more people and are larger in size than The Base Camp. They are around $109,100.
However, if you have plenty of money to spend, you can purchase one of the largest and most expensive options. The most expensive option available is the Atlas. This trailer seats up to four people, has a three piece bathroom, and a slide-out Murphy suite. It is sold for $290,000.
Where Are Airstreams Made?
Airstream has one major center of operation. All their trailers and RVs are manufactured in Jackson Center, Ohio. Trailers may be sold at locations all around the country, but they all start out in Jackson Center. After they are built, they are shipped out to different distribution centers around the country.
How Long Do Airstream RVs Last?
One of the major reasons for Airstream RVs being more expensive than other brands is their lifespans. Many RV brands produce RVs or trailers that will need to be replaced after 20 years or so. They can even last less time depending on the brand you purchase from. However, with Airstream you will be purchasing an RV that will last you for many decades. A lot of the times the RV will last long enough for you to pass it down to your children when you are old and you cannot use it anymore.
Typically, Airstream RVs and trailers can last for 40 years or longer. However, for them to last that long you need to take proper care of them. Without the proper care and maintenance they will not last anywhere close to 40 years. So, take the time to take care of your RV and you will only need to purchase one RV in your lifetime.
Do Airstreams Leak?
When you purchase an RV one of the things you are going to be concerned about is the potential for leaks. When you take an RV out on the road there is a good chance that you will have some days with some bad weather. On those days you do not want water to be leaking into your trailer.
Unfortunately, there are not many trailers that will never have a leak. Airstream RVs are no different as they certainly have the potential to leak. Over time and with wear and tear the seals that keep your Airstream sealed will break down. When this happens you will start to notice leaks. However by doing the proper maintenance you can avoid leaks all together.
Additionally, you should note that Airstream RVs usually get leaks much further into their lifespan than trailers from other brands. Airstream RVs are constructed extremely well, and it will take many years for you to notice any leaks.
If you do notice a leak, you can fix it by replacing the sealant. This may take some time and you may have to take it into the shop, but it is certainly fixable. So, do not think that just because you have a leak that you need to sell your trailer and get a new one. A leak is not such a drastic problem that you need to do something like that.
Below is a video showing an Airstream being tested for water leaks at the factory!
Why Are Airstreams So Expensive? 7 Main Factors Explained
Really, why are Airstreams so expensive? As we have discussed, Airstream RVs are more expensive on average than RVs or trailers of any other brand. There are several factors that contribute to the increased price, and we will be discussing them below.
The first major reason for Airstream RVs to be more expensive than other options on the market is their material. Airstream RVs are built with a beautiful aluminum body. This aluminum body is so iconic that when anyone thinks of an RV, they picture an Airstream RV. Even people that have never touched an RV in their life will picture an Airstream.
The shell of the RV is made from high quality “aircraft grade” aluminum alloy riveted over a steel frame. This layer is insulated and then an inner shell of aluminum is riveted to the inside of the RV.
The material used in Airstream RVs is very similar to the material used in World War II aircraft. Aircraft during World War II obviously needed to be very tough, so having the same material in an RV is extremely beneficial.
Additionally, Airstream limits the amount of plywood used in their trailers. Plywood is useful, but it does not do a good job at insulating your RV and it is not as durable as metal materials. So, Airstream only uses plywood in the floor of their RVs when they need to provide an anchor point for the appliances and flooring. It is completely contained in the double frame so that it is at a much lower risk of rotting than in other RVs.
There is a reason that Airstream has become the most recognizable trailer brand in America. It is not just because they were one of the first to enter the industry. It is because they did an excellent job in designing RVs and travel trailers. They would not be where they are today without doing an excellent job at designing and manufacturing RVs.
Airstream RVs have a design that has stood the test of time. Although they have made a few adjustments and they have several different models, the principle design has remained. The design they used to be successful back in the 1950s is not so different from the design that they use today. It is an elegant design that offers plenty of space to sit and move around inside the RV, while ensuring that the RV is aerodynamic and beautiful on the outside.
3. Construction Process
Airstream RVs are hand crafted by the highly skilled technicians employed by Airstream at their headquarters in Jackson Center, Ohio. Each trailer takes approximately 350 hours to complete. That is roughly 300 hours more than for the typical white box trailer. That extra time that Airstream puts into their trailers is what makes their trailers last 15 years longer than other brands.
Airstream is the only brand that build their holding tanks into the frame. To do this they need to design their tanks for specific places. However, this also means that the RV will have a lower center of gravity, better aerodynamics, a lower overall weight, and better weight distribution. More than half of the trailers weight is below the floor which results in better balance and stability.
Airstream then constructs their iconic aluminum shell with 1200 square feet of aluminum on average. The material is extremely lightweight and flexible, so they cut, bend, and flex the aluminum into the shape they need to form the inner and outer shells. They rivet the pieces together to form the two shells.
Construction requires about 3000 rivets, each of which is hand placed by two riveters working in sync on the inside and outside of the trailer. Once all the rivets are placed the seams are sealed.
Airstream then attaches the whole structure to the chassis. They do this to ensure that the structure is as strong and durable as possible. They then take the time to insulate the trailer like a home. This is also when they install plumbing and wiring.
After everything is constructed, the trailer goes through several durability tests. If the trailer fails any test it needs to be fixed, and it needs to pass the test before it can be sold.
As we mentioned in the section above, Airstream RVs and travel trailers go through extreme testing to ensure that they can withstand any type of weather. The most extreme test they go through is the hurricane test. In this test the trailer is sprayed with 10,000 gallons of water at hurricane pressure for 30 minutes. While this is happening there is a quality control specialist on the inside of the trailer that is looking for leaks. If they notice anything than the trailer needs to be repaired before they can install furniture and put it on the market.
Airstream RVs are so durable because of the extra time they take to construct their vehicles. They are also built from highly durable materials like aluminum. These things combined with the extensive testing process results in an incredibly durable RV with a long lifespan.
5. Resale Value
Everyone has heard the saying that a car drops $10,000 in price the second you drive it off the lot. That is because as soon as you purchase the car and start using it, it becomes a used car. There is also a pretty good chance that a dealership could claim some kind of damage on the car when you try to resell it that will hurt its resale value. The same is true for RVs and travel trailers.
However, Airstream RVs typically have a much higher resale value than other RVs. That is not to say that you will be able to sell it back to a dealer for the same price you bought it. That will certainly not be the case. However, you can sell it for a higher percentage of the original cost than you would be able to with other trailers.
The reason they have such a high resale value is their high durability. Since Airstream RVs are so durable, they do not get as scratched up and they do not take as much damage. So, when you bring your RV to a dealer, they will not be able to drive down the price as much as they would with trailers from other brands.
In addition to all the things discussed above, Airstream RVs are also built with high quality components. Their plumbing system is tested to ensure that everything is working effectively, and the same is true for the heating and cooling system. The brakes are checked rigorously to ensure that the driver will never have any issues.
Additionally, Airstream RVs are built with furniture already in the RV. So, you do not need to worry about moving furniture into your RV. That hassle is saved for the people building the RV. So, as soon as you buy your new RV, you will be good to go.
The final, and possibly most important reason for the increased price of Airstream RVs is their reputation. Airstream is one of the oldest RV brands in America and for good reason. They have stood the test of time in an industry that often times has brands come and go incredibly quickly. In that time Airstream has developed a reputation as a company that takes the time to build high quality trailers. They do not build their trailers on an assembly line like many other companies.
Airstream does not just have their reputation because they have been around for a long time. They have their reputation because they have done an excellent job at producing RVs for many years. Without being an excellent manufacturer of RVs, they would not have the stellar reputation they have today.
Get on the Road with Your Brand New Airstream RV
After reading, we hope you have all the information you need about Airstream RVs. When you are looking for an RV, one of the most common brands you will come across is Airstream. They are a brand that has been around for decades, and for good reason. They produce excellent RVs that last an incredibly long time.
The only downside to purchasing an RV from Airstream is the increased price. Airstream has the best reputation of any RV manufacturer in America. They also produce the RVs and travel trailers that last the longest. As a result, they are able to increase their prices and people will still buy from them. Although some people might not be able to afford an Airstream RV, you should definitely consider buying from them if it is in your price range.
Airstream RVs might be the most expensive, but they are also the highest quality and most durable. You do not need to buy from Airstream, but you cannot do much better. So, if you want to buy from Airstream, go ahead, you cannot go wrong with any of their models.
Are you a new or experienced Airstream owner? Will this be the first RV you have ever purchased? Do you think you will purchase an RV from Airstream? Let us know in the comments!
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