New Airstream on Display

Insider’s Guide to Trading in your Airstream

What do RV dealers really think about your trade in? At a recent Alumafandango seminar, the sales team from George Sutton RV shared some insider info.

Airstream, Inc. recently added several new dealers, causing both new model and trade-in prices to dip. “People were used to trading in and not losing any money,” said financing expert Eric Benson, Sutton’s General Sales Manager. “Last year that changed, but now we’re heading back to that sweet spot when you can trade in your Airstream for more than you paid for it.”

Top Trailer Trade-in Tips

Airstream Interior
Airstream Interior

Keep the cushions cherry. “If you if you bought an Airstream new, wrap up the factory cushions and put them away,” Benson advised. “Every Airstream interior is built by hand, and the upholstery fabric is issued for specific trailers, so cushions aren’t easy to recreate.” (Sterling owners might pay $780 for a pair.) “If you have thousand-dollar pillows, someday those will pay off in full,” said Benson. While you wait, have your upholstery re-covered in a similar fabric—or go wild and redecorate.

Two words: aircraft sealant. Corrosion affects trade appraisals, so combat it with sealant to maximize your Airstream’s resale value (as much as $2500 on a model 25ft or larger). “Never own an Airstream without applying a good aircraft sealant,” said Benson, and he suggests Xzilon (pronounced “zy-lon”), the product used on commercial jets to prevent the finish from developing ugly marks and filiform “crow’s feet.” The application is technical, though — leave the chemicals on the aluminum too long, and your shiny silver Airstream will dull to a milky white. “Follow the instructions exactly,” said Benson. “Apply it in two-foot sections, and time it. Xzilon is okay to do yourself, but it’s time consuming. You can’t walk away from it.”

“You’re crazy to sell your own Airstream,” says Benson. “Find a good dealer with a strong website. If you need to sell it now, your Airstream will be turned into cash within 24 hours. If you have time to wait, though, you can ask for more money on consignment.” Make sure your insurance covers your coach, then hand it over to a good dealer to market it. But be wary about where it’s consigned, though, as any damage incurred will be your problem, not the dealer’s. “If it gets crushed like a soda can, it’s your soda can,” said Benson. “But a reputable dealer will get you top dollar and keep it in a spot where it will be well taken care of.”

Buy a weird model. “If you have an Airstream, you have an investment,” said Benson—especially if it’s a decor model (like the Ocean Breeze) or one that was a flop with consumers. “Anything that’s a mistake becomes precious and goes up in value,” said Benson, “and every time Airstream makes a mistake, you can benefit, too.” The Basecamp—Airstream’s nifty little Torpedo-inspired toy hauler—is a good example. “No one bought one,” Benson said. The original sticker price for the Basecamp was $20,000; eighteen short months later, that figure rose to $35,000. “If they manufacture something people don’t want, that means limited numbers, and they go up in value later,” Benson explained. That equation holds true for the Victorinox “Swiss Army” coach, which “didn’t sell well on the lot, but is now more valuable than the DWR,” (the Design Within Reach decor model of 2007-2008, the years when only 65 units were built). “If your model gets discontinued,” said Benson, “pat yourself on the back!”