So You Want to Buy an Airstream?

Today we’re going to discuss the considerations for how we chose our Airstream model and year, and our recommendations for choosing your own Airstream.

Let’s begin with the obvious.

Well, for one thing they just look cool. Even after 91 years they remain a unique and captivating design, to the point that we still chase them down the highway to take a closer look when we see one on the road. The only other company that currently holds that cachet in our minds is Tesla (incidentally, we have one of those, too).

Original Airstream c.1929
Brand new 2020 Airstream

There’s instant camaraderie with other “Airstreamers”. We wave to them on the road. We follow them on social media. We’re nosy about each other’s rigs with minimal inhibitions that usually prevent genuine social interaction. The community that we have gained from our Airstream was unexpected but very welcome.

Image courtesy of

Airstreams are also known to survive well structurally, and hold their value better than traditional RVs. While the depreciation on recreational vehicles is huge regardless of the type you choose, Airstreams do tend to retain more value than most, likely due to that aforementioned cachet and structural integrity.

The Airstream Overlander is one of the largest models that maintains a gross weight under 5000 pounds. We intend to tow ours with a mid-size SUV, as we currently have a Volvo XC90 as our tow vehicle, so for us being lightweight and maneuverable is very important.

We also intend to spend a considerable amount of time camping at National Parks, which generally have limited space for RVs. Their campsites also tend to be on the smaller side (in general) and are more difficult to maneuver in and out of, so again a relatively smaller model was a plus.

While not necessarily set on the year 1970, we preferentially wanted an Overlander from the period from 1969 to the early 70s.

There were a few reasons for this. The new body style, including the rounded windows, were introduced beginning in 1969, and we had a strong preference for those aesthetics.

1969 Overlander
1970 Overlander
1976 Overlander

In the period after the early 1970s the trailers began to get heavier as Airstream bulked up the frames. They also changed the light housings and made small changes to the exterior trim that we find to be less attractive.

Also beginning after the 70s, newer models are made with an exterior aluminum alternative to Alclad. The original Alclad is an aluminum alloy that has thin coating of pure aluminum able to be polished to a mirror shine, whereas the new Airstreams cannot be polished past a dull gleam (still gorgeous of course).

All of the reasons detailed above are why we chose our exact Airstream model and year. However, your reasons and needs may be very different. If you want as much space in your RV as possible and care less about the cachet, an Airstream may not be the right recreational vehicle for you. If you have a larger tow vehicle and plan to stay at RV parks and resorts, a larger Airstream model like a vintage Sovereign or a brand new Classic may be more comfortable for your family (and we may upgrade at some point!). Budget is going to play a role as well. Not many of us have $160,000 laying around for a new, fully-loaded Classic.

Ultimately the decision all comes down to personal preference. However, with 90+ years of Airstream models available we would highly recommend you put in the time and effort to research the different models and years before beginning your search!

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