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Airstream Camper Depreciation: Do They Hold Value?

Published on March 23rd, 2019 by Camper Report
This post was updated on April 28th, 2021

So, you’re wondering about that Airstream, aren’t you? Whether or not it’s worth all the money and all the looks. Don’t worry, we’re going to go over that. As an Airstream lover, I know that it can be quite shocking when you see the price tag.

Do Airstream campers hold their value? When you purchase a camper of any sort, you can bet that there’s going to be depreciation for the first few years right after you have purchased it. Airstreams, however, will hold their value and continue to provide you with the comfort and the durability you are looking for.

That’s a good thing to know about Airstreams, but don’t worry, we’re going to get into more as we go through the article: comparing motorhomes and Airstreams, what makes Airstream so durable, and so forth. If you’re interested in Airstreams and their value, keep reading!

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What’s Depreciation?

When it comes to depreciation, I would like to explain a bit before getting into the article. I know that some of you already know what this term means, but for those that don’t–listen up!

Depreciation is described as a reduction in the value of an asset with passing time, particularly in regards to the wear and tear of the asset. So, when we’re talking about the depreciation of Airstream, we’re going to be talking about how durable and reliable it really is.

Depreciation is described as a reduction in the value of an asset with passing time, particularly in regards to the wear and tear of the asset.

This is something that’s really important, especially when you’re thinking about purchasing a mobile camper of any sort. You definitely want to be able to get something that you’re going to get you what you paid for.

An interesting thing about Airstream though, is that they don’t depreciate as much as other things do, they actually are at about the mark where they may by chance lose 30% of its value, which is pretty good when you’re looking at a trailer that can last for years.

So it may feel like you’re going to be putting a lot of money into something that may not be worth it, but as you’ll be able to find out as you continue reading, these trailers are definitely worth it. They are some of the highest-quality American-made trailers that you can find on the market.

About Airstream

Wally Byam was the founder of the Airstream. The idea for this came from his wife Marion. They enjoyed camping together, but she wasn’t exactly fond of sleeping on the ground in a tent, so Wally decided to put a little tent of sorts on a Model T chassis. It worked well, but not that great in the rain.

From that step, he replaced the tent with a permanent shelter that looked like a teardrop with a stove and fridge inside as well. This was what caught the attention of so many people as they went camping around.

Wally was soon making DIY guides on how to build your own trailer, but people kept asking him to make the trailers for him, which eventually lead them to Culver City, California in 1931, which was the home of the Airstream’s first factory.

When Airstream first opened, there were less than 50 other shops that he was competing with, and most of them, unfortunately, weren’t able to stay open due to the Great Depression and World War II. But Airstream prevailed!

In the 2000s, Airstream was able to celebrate its 75th birthday. Isn’t that crazy? It is said that in the year 2006, 65% of the Airstreams that had been on built since the first trailer from Wally are still on the road. That’s definitely some good durability if you ask me.

Nowadays, you’re able to have your Airstream attached to your phone! So much progress has been made since the 1920s to today. Only the 2019 Classic Travel Trailer models will be the ones that come with the app-pairing technology.

What’s been known as the “Silver Bullet” definitely has found a place in the heart of the people, and is one of the things that America has become known for.

What Makes Airstream Last So Long?

One of the most important things that really helps in making an Airstream last is the quality of production. That’s really what it will always come down to. If you’re looking for something to last, you’re wanting to make sure that it was built with good materials and that you can trust it to do its job.

It’s like how if you were to go out and buy a Tesla, you wouldn’t want to spend all this money on a car that is going to fall apart the second day that you’re driving it, and that’s not what the people at Airstream are about either.

When building the average boxy trailer that we’re used to it only takes about 50 hours to finish, while with the Airstream it takes about 350 hours to build each and every single travel trailers because they are really dedicated to crafting something that’s going to last for generations.

The average lifespan of an RV is 15 years, but more than 75% of the Airstreams that have been created over the last 100 years are still on the road. There is definitely a significant difference between 100 and 15 years.

Because of the time that they take in order to be sure that the Airstreams are crafted well, you won’t have to deal with as many maintenance costs, it’s even considered the lowest ownership cost of any other trailer on the market.

You even save on gas because of the shape–20% better economy with your fuel!

Not only are they conscious about the shape that this trailer is, but they are also striving to make sure that what they are using for materials isn’t going to harm the environment. Their insulation is actually made from recycled glass.

The outside shell is aluminum that’s self-supporting, much like the fuselage of an airplane. With all the rivets that are on the outside of the trailer, there are over 3,000 and they are all put in by hand, that way there is no way the frame can be compromised.

That’s really such a great thing for them to take note of.

What Makes Airstream Different?

So, we talked about what makes the Airstream last so long, so let’s talk about some of the things that makes it different from other box trailers that we may be used to seeing.

Like I mentioned above, one of the main things that you can really notice when you first see one of these is the fact that it’s definitely not shaped like any other trailer on the market. Because of the shape, when you’re towing this behind your vehicle, it definitely makes a difference.

The low shape makes it safer and easier to drive, helps make wind resistance low, and creates less draft. The shape helps with the fuel, as I mentioned before. You’re also able to know that when you’re going through places with heavy winds, your trailer will be safe.

The sway is almost nothing when those high and heavy winds beat against the shell.

When you’re driving through places with heavy winds, your Airstream trailer will be safe.

You’re also able to trust that you’re going to have an easier time with towing an Airstream behind your vehicle, mostly because each wheel has its own suspension, which is helpful in absorbing vibration and road shock. Each axle is independent as well, so if you somehow get a flat, you can still tow a little bit longer.

The interior of these trailers really reflects the outside. They have really tried to keep moving forward and creating something that’s modern within the trailer, so you don’t walk in and feel like you’re traveling back in time. There are modern appliances as well.

These appliances include climate control and an entertainment system. There are also outlets and some USB ports that are scattered around the interior. Everything is supposed to be useful as well as easy on the eye.

That’s something that not many other trailers try to do unless they are some billion-dollar buy.

Different Airstream Options

One of the things that is offered with the same type of quality and shape are some other models of the original Airstream:

ModelBase MSRPSleeping Capacity
Classic AirstreamStarts at $152,40030′ to 33′; Sleeps 5
GlobetrotterStarts at $103,900 25′ to 27′; Sleeps 6
Tommy BahamaStarts at $85,40019′ to 27′; Sleeps 5
International SecurityStarts at $88,40023′ to 30′; Sleeps 6
Starts at $84,40023′ to 30′; Sleeps 6
Flying CloudStarts at $67,40019′ to 30′; Sleeps 8
SportStarts at $48,90016′ to 22′; Sleeps 4
Nest by AirstreamStarts at $45,90016′ ; Sleeps 2

As you can see, there is definitely a variety of options as you’re searching for the right Airstream for you. If you head over to the Airstream website, you’re able to go and compare the difference between models of Airstream.

It’s incredible to me to think that something that’s about 20 feet can literally sleep eight people, and comfortably. Also, something that is really incredible about Airstream is that when you’re planning on purchasing one–if it’s new–you can choose the floor plan that you’re looking for.

I think that’s a genius move, to be able to know that you can have your trailer the layout that you would like. When you’re going to be able to choose what you would like, you’re able to know that the people are really going to take care of your trailer.

Everything that’s in the Airstream trailer is handcrafted, so that’s something that really adds to the charm and quality of these trailers and this company. Whatever you’re looking for in the trailer, you can be sure that you’re going to get quality. Even if you’re purchasing a used trailer.

Airstream vs Motorhomes

Now one of the big questions: which you should get, a travel trailer like Airstream, or something that’s boxy and bulkier, like a motorhome?

We’re going to do a little comparison between the two and see which one would be the better option.

Being towed behind when drivingAccess to the cabin when driving
Closer to the groundHigher off the ground
Can’t pull moreCan pull a trailer
Continues to be good qualityDeteriorate if not used
Can unhitch and adventureLess places to take comfortably
Outlasts several tow vehiclesStuck with Chassis life & repairs
Can fix flat with spare toolsHave to wait for service truck
Needs to hook up to water sourceWill always have hot water
Can fit in smaller placesBig and bulky/ Less places

As you can see there are some differences and some things that may not necessarily be what you’re looking for. But if you’re wanting to be able to know that you’re going to have something that’s quality, that’s something that you need to consider.

Granted, there may be a little more room in a motorhome, there’s something homier and comfortable with the interior and design of Airstream. Personally, if I was in the market for something that would last me for a long time, I would definitely head out and go look at Airstreams.

I have always been around motorhomes, my grandparents gave my family a motorhome since they weren’t going to be using it. But with comparing the quality and the design of the Airstream, they definitely seem more appealing to me, especially since I’m somewhat partial to the ‘retro’ vibe.

Whether you’re on the Airstream or Motorhome side, I’m sure that there’s a bunch of things that we could say trying to convince someone that one is better than the other.

But what it really comes down to is the durability of the vehicles, and clearly, with that, there is only one winner, and that’s Airstream. You can still enjoy a motorhome, but you’ll be out of more money than you would have been if you just purchased an Airstream.

Worth the Expense?

As you can see from the earlier table, there’s definitely some big numbers when you look at the costs of the trailers, and they depend on the floor plans as well for the final price. But I suppose you’re wondering if it’s really worth it in the end?

With going in with the aluminum alloy and the personally installed appliances–seriously, they have to walk in and install them because there isn’t a way for them to just lower the things down through the top of the trailer.

A lot of companies choose not to use aluminum because it’s something that’s very expensive. It’s also something that’s going to last longer, Airstream doesn’t rot like a lot of other materials that other manufacturers use. They are mostly worried about features then they do with how long the trailers or motorhomes are going to last.

ou can find some Airstreams that have been on the road for 40 or 50 years, and they still look like they did the day they were bought.

If you are dedicated to keeping up the appearance of your trailers and making sure that they are clean and taken care of, you can honestly find some Airstreams that have been on the road for 40 or 50 years, and they still look like they did the day they were bought.

One thing that’s really different about this company as well is that they make their own cabinetry and furniture from high-quality materials. They do this because they want to make sure that you’re going to have things that fit in with the interior of the trailer.

They go for something more modern when they are working through the designs of your trailer, rather than the western feel of most other trailers. That’s something that is really special about them. With every model, you’re basically getting a luxury trailer. Everything is high quality and built to last.

One thing that I was able to learn that I didn’t know before was that the design of the body is very similar to a WWII era aircraft which is legendary for its toughness. If that doesn’t help to convince you that you’re not going to regret getting an Airstream, I don’t know what will.

To answer this question, they are definitely worth the expense. You’re only going to grow closer to those around you, as well as grow to understand and love the passion that has been put into each and every one of these trailers. That’s something that really makes the company stand out from others.

Become Part of the Community

One of the great things that you’re going to become a part of is the Airstream Community. It’s like how whenever you’re driving around by a motorcycle, they always wave at each other. That’s what you’ve just accomplished.

From waving, flashing lights, and conversations, there is something special about the way that a trailer can bring people together. There are clubs, magazines, rallies, factory tours, and even Airstream only campgrounds.

Although you might feel like you had thrown some money down the drain for the first few years as you’re starting to work and travel with your Airstream, the value of this trailer will rise before it lowers to a point when you’re regretting the decision.

That’s the amazing legacy that this company has put forward since the 1920s. Imagine being able to have that as a legacy, the fact that something that you had created because your wife didn’t want to sleep on the ground has become somewhat of a staple in American culture.

If you have the chance to be able to snatch something up like this, to be able to own an Airstream, I would say go for it. You won’t be disappointed, as it’s definitely worth your investment. I know that’s going to be something that I’m looking into for my next trailer.

Trusty Trailers

I know that this could be a whole lot of information to process, and it might take some time in order to be able to understand what’s going on, but know that when you’re looking for something to create and make memories with, Airstream is one of the best ones that you can go with.

The motorhome that I have right now is something that is probably over ten years old, and it’s definitely falling apart. Granted, it’s been well-used, but seeing all these examples of how Airstream can be well used and yet still look brand new is something that really makes me sit back and think about what’s going on.

Some of the best memories that I have though are within that motorhome. I wish that I could have gone more and done more in it, but it’s currently sitting at my parent’s house in the yard, just holding place from when we moved. Which is sad.

Airstreams will likely last 15 years longer or more than the motorhome you were considering in the first place.

But just imagine being able to go outside and see your ‘Silver Bullet’ and then head out on an adventure. There may be some more cosmetic detailing that you will be participating in then most of the other motorhomes, mostly because of the aluminum shell.

So, waxing the outside would probably be once a year or so, and regular washes. But, it’s definitely worth the extra care.

Although they are more expensive than most of the other trailers that are on the market, they are going to last 15 years or more than the motorhome that you were thinking of purchasing in the first place. So be sure to think about that as well. The cost of everything will drop considerably if you don’t have to replace it in 15 years.

A fun fact is that if you’re thinking about selling your Airstream, they have a better resale value than a box-model does. Also, the fact that most of the materials that they are made from are completely recyclable, this is something that’s going to be able to help if you have someone in the family who is a little more hesitant about purchasing such an investment.

Take The Risk

There’s not really much else you can do after you have all these facts except if you’re wanting to take that risk and go ahead and purchase an Airstream. There’s nothing wrong with having a dream and going to get it.

Go camp in your Airstream, and if that’s not for you, then go and camp in your box-model motorhome. Either way, as long as you’re getting out into the world and creating memories and going on adventures, there’s really nothing that’s going to stop you from having a good time.

You could have the Skymall of RVs and still have a good time, or you could even just have a simple tent that you sleep on the ground with. The point is, there’s a big world out there, there’s lots of places to explore and lots of people to meet and see again.

Don’t be afraid to go and take that risk, to be away from home for weeks or months at a time, or to go and find yourself in the wilderness or along the roads of Yellowstone, or some other place that you have always dreamed of seeing. I think that’s something that’s really important.

Now is the time to go forward and share these memories with your family.

Most of the time now, we are so connected to technology and we don’t want to go outside, but with the chance to be able to go out and have a good time, to breathe in the fresh air and find yourself in the world, that’s something that we need to be sure to take advantage of before it’s too late.

So, get your kids off their computer, put the phone down, shut off the video game console and go outside. You’re never going to know what you’re going to find out traveling until you go and do it. Now is the time to be able to go forward and share these memories with your family. You can even take them to old places that you used to go see!

My family and I went to Michigan for a trip one year, and my dad was able to show me where he used to live while he was on a church mission. That was something that was really cool and seeing as how my mom was from there, she was able to show us all the things that she was used to when she was little.

Related Questions

Are Airstreams really worth it? They will be able to last you for a long time, and although they aren’t the roomiest of travel trailers, you’re able to know that nothing was put in the places that they are because they couldn’t figure anything else out. Everything about the interior was thought out and planned just the way that it was supposed to be.

Are Airstreams heavy? If you’re going to be looking at Airstreams, the older ones that were the first ones to come out are usually lightest. The newer models seem to be heavier than the older ones, but if you’re concerned about the weight, then you can find the measurements on

Are Airstreams still made? These trailers are still made today, and although they have a couple of models that aren’t necessarily covered in the aluminum shell like the others, they still are Airstream. They have kept using the classic lines from the 1920s for the past few generations. They aren’t going to change that in any way. So, yes, they are still made, and in the same way that the others were back then.

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