Nothing beats the style and feel of vintage recreational vehicles, so it's no wonder you're looking to find the perfect vintage RV for sale. With so many new "boxes" on the road these days, noting will turn heads and make you feel like a million bucks quite like a vintage RV - it's almost like the antithesis of the modern design trends. Besides, no amount of fancy modern engineering can replace the feel of an older style unit.
Whether you're looking for a vintage motor home (like a Winnebago), or a vintage travel trailer (like an Airstream), there are plenty of them on the open market. I'll explain several ways to find some great deals, and even offer some tips on making sure you get exactly what the seller promised.
Vintage RV Shows
Many people don't know that owners of these old fashioned motor homes and travel trailers often take their vehicles to competitive shows. These are essentially the same thing as a traditional car show, where the owners park their RVs and allow judges and the general public to admire and inspect their "babies." And just like the car shows, there's always a handful of people that have their stuff for sale. If you're wanting a clean vintage RV that looks and feels as new as the day it rolled off the lot, this is probably your best option.
Another advantage of shows is the ability to network with the other owners. Even if they're not listing their vintage trailers or motor homes for sale, they probably know of people who are selling one, even if they're not present. They'll be glad to offer you a phone number or email. This works equally well for those wanting a fully restored RV or even people looking for a project; the guys at the shows always have their ears to the ground for just about everything.
Visit a Vintage RV Club
Those RV shows I just mentioned? Guess who runs them? Yep, dedicated RV clubs. If you can find a few in your area, give the president a call and ask if you can stop in on one of their meetings or events. Chances are you'll be welcomed by everybody, as they're always excited to bring a new person into their passion.
Be sure to tell everybody what you're looking for, along with your expected price range. Chances are, somebody knows somebody who knows somebody who has exactly what you're looking for. And by meeting all these great people, you'll also get personal recommendations for all the little things, like restoration, service, parts and everything else.
Online Classifieds and Auction Sites
The Internet is a very big place, and it's usually the first (and often the only) stop by those looking to list their vintage RV for sale. Here are a few of the first websites I'd recommend looking at, but of course feel free to branch out.
Ebay. Did you know that Ebay has it's own department dedicated entirely to automobiles? It's called "Ebay Motors" and you'll find anything that drives, flies or floats listed there, plus plenty of parts to go along with all of them. As you know, Ebay is an auction site, so you'll be bidding against other prospective buyers, so the prices can get driven up pretty fast by the time the auction ends, even if the original list price was fairly low.
Craigslist. Craigslist has more-or-less become the modern version of the old newspaper classifieds. People list all sorts of things for sale on Craigslist, and it's not uncommon to find vintage 5th wheels, motor homes and other RVs listed at very low prices. Sometimes you'll find people selling their cherry baby, other times it's people unloading vintage treasures that they don't realize are even valuable! That means you can score some pretty cool deals right under the nose of most buyers. Here's a trick: Because Craigslist is broken up by city, don't forget to look at other cities. Imagine if you found the exact Winnebago you've always wanted at a price that's lower than you've ever seen, wouldn't that be worth an airline ticket or road trip? I would think so. Plus it gives you an excuse to take a much needed vacation.
I almost hesitate bringing this one up, because the prices are usually astronomical at the dealerships. But if price is no object, you can often score something truly awesome. Dealers carry used RVs in droves, and often have several vintage era ones on site.
Be careful when negotiating with a salesman, because they're in the business to make lots of money. Unlike the other folks who are parting with their prized collection and are willing to make sure it goes to the right person, salesmen just want to score the easy dollar and move on.
How About Buying A Reissued Vintage RV?
Airstream still makes travel trailers, and they look virtually unchanged from the genuine vintage ones. The biggest differences aren't in the style, but in modern chassis updates. This means you can get the vintage feel without all the hassles of older technology. Unless you're a vintage RV collector or purist, this solution is a win-win, because you're getting the best of both worlds: Old school style and feel and modern engineering and design "under the hood" so to speak.
Winnebago also offers a line of vintage motor home designs that mimic their original campers. They look and feel like the older ones, but run and ride as smooth as a modern unit. Anyone who's ever driven cross-country on a motor home road trip in an older camper knows that the ride is, well, not super smooth. But with a modern frame, suspension and drivetrain, you'll reap the benefits of increased power, gas mileage, safety and a smooth ride.
Tips: How To Buy A Vintage RV
Before you go shopping, take the time to do your homework. This will ensure that you get exactly what you want at the best possible price.
Read Troubleshooting Guides Online. Every car, truck, van - and yes, even an RV or trailer - has its gremlins. It's best to know what these ahead of time. Then, when you're inspecting one you're considering buying, you'll know what to look for and what questions to ask the owner.
Know the Blue Book Value. This might sound obvious, but when some people get so excited to find a vintage RV for sale, they never take the time to know the real market value. You wouldn't pay $40,000 for a ten year old economy car, would you? So why take the chance of doing that with your next vintage travel trailer or motor home?
Ask Lots of Questions. Talk to your local RV club, sign up for online forums, read magazines; do whatever it takes to put yourself in a position to ask tons of questions about vintage RVs. There is no such thing as too much knowledge.
Do these and you'll be one step ahead of the game as you search for the perfect vintage RV for sale.