I receive messages like this on a very frequent basis.
I have a 19xx ______________. Any idea on how much its worth? Thanks!
The short answer: It could be worth next to nothing or very valuable!
First, I want you to understand one thing. It is very difficult for me to even come close to an accurate value without seeing the unit. Even then, there are many other factors that effect value such as time of year, location, and how you advertise the unit.
Secondly, with vintage recreational vehicles there are so few units for sale that finding comparable sales is very difficult. To complicate it, the condition of the units varies wildly making it hard to compare even recent advertisements.
To estimate the value of the unit yourself, take the following into consideration:
The condition of the unit is by far the most important factor! It is the RV equivalent to the old real estate adage “location, location, location.” You should consider how much work and MONEY will be required to get the unit into useable condition.
- Is the unit road worthy? Are the tires less than 7 years old? Do the running lights work properly? Buyers need to take the unit back home. If repairs need to be made or towing on a flatbed trailer are required, the additional costs will be reflected in the price!
- Do all of the appliances work properly? RV appliances can be costly.
- Is the unit clean?
- Is the unit clean? (Yes, I asked a second time to have you re-evaluate your initial assessment.)
- How much WORK will be required to bring the unit back to useable condition? By this I mean “sweat equity.” Part of buying a vintage RV means cleaning, fixing, replacing, polishing, etc.
- How much MONEY will be required to bring the unit back to useable condition? The purchase of a vintage RV is typically the down payment. Most folks spend lots of money on replacement parts and services.
- How was the unit stored? Under cover? In a field with tall grass around it?
- Has it been kept dry? Does it leak?
- Is the floor rotten?
It is pretty clear that Airstream is the clear leader in brand recognition and market appeal. As a result, the vintage Airstream units hold their value better than other brands. There is a large community online for support and multiple parts suppliers.
While Avion, Silver Streak, and Streamline all made great products and there are some valid arguments, Airstream is the brand most in demand. It is not accurate to expect a non-Airstream to have the same value as an Airstream.
How you market the unit is really important. By marketing, I don’t just mean where you advertise it but how. Sure, using a site with national and international exposure (shameless plug for ViewRVs.com) helps, but you have to clean the unit up. Remove everything not for sale with the unit. Mow the grass around it, clean the windows, and use good lighting for the pictures. Just because it is a great unit doesn’t mean you can slack off on the presentation!
Vintage units should be advertised on a site that specializes in vintage units like ViewRVs.com. The free websites and other mainstream RV websites are filled with folks looking for newer units. ViewRVs.com has followers that have the itch for something with …. more character than today’s cookie cutter boxes.
Let’s face it. Sellers in large metropolitan areas have an advantage. Units out in very rural areas get looked at only by the hard core buyers. Sellers in rural areas need to be prepared to email lots of photos and answer many questions via email or telephone.
Any attempt on my behalf to estimate a price is an educated guess. Sure I see the prices almost every day and can get close sometimes. I always suggest to market the unit by using the right site and presenting the unit in the best possible way. For this site, I often screen text and pictures for sellers and offer feedback. In several cases, I have requested replacement pictures to better showcase the unit and worked with sellers to revise advertise text to highlight certain features of their unit.
If you are interested in advertising on ViewRVs.com, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.