How Much Does A Vintage Camper Cost?

What is the Cost for a Vintage RV? The average cost can be anywhere from Free to 70,000 dollars depending on if the RV has been renovated or has been kept in its original shape, where the economic value has been depreciated to nothing. Getting a vintage Rv might be a consideration since the average depreciation of a new RV is about 2% per month and a Vintage can appreciate in value depending on the improvements that are added. Vintage RV’s fall into several categories. What I think most people think of when of vintage RVs are the silver bubble airstreams that are still manufactured today. However, there are more vintage RVs than Airstream. Vintage Rv’s are in vogue at the moment and they are in high demand for those that want to fully renovate. As the demand for Rv’s, in general, have been increasing among all generations of campers. There are even magazines, gatherings, dealers and get-togethers targeted at Vintage RV owners.

What Kinds Of Vintage RV Are There?

Vintage Rv’s are more than just the pull trailer. RVs exist in all the different styles we have today all have a start with a similar model in history. They are all making a comeback. Vintage Rv’s fall into several categories:

  1. Motorhomes - Class A, B, C
  2. Pull Trailers - Fiberglass, aluminum, siding
  3. Pop up trailers
  4. 5th wheel trailers
  5. Truck Campers
  6. Tear Drop 

I have an old Rv, is it just old or is it vintage? What’s considered vintage varies between the type of and the age of the model. For Motorhomes it is anything that is older than 20 yrs. Travel trailers, Teardrop trailers, truck campers, pop-ups trailers, and 5th wheels are 25 yrs or older. The history of the RV is an interesting one, and the current models we see today can be seen all the way back to the 1930’s with the first teardrop models. Airstream aluminum bubble models were made popular in the 1950s. The First motorhomes appeared back in 1910. So you can see that the history of the Rv goes back to as far as cars existed.

Who Is A Vintage RV For?

A vintage RV that has not been renovated is ideal for someone who is handy, doesn’t mind taking a risk and has experience with RVs, has the money and time to work on ongoing projects. The biggest comment from people who have renovated before is that is will cost more than you think and you will sink more money into your Vintage than you ever thought. If this doesn’t scare you, and you like taking on a project of this magnitude, the rewards can be there. Or if you just like the nostalgic look all done up then buy a fully renovated model. There are still things to look out for such as workmanship and maybe any the current owner may have taken. Or choose one that is new, but has been built to look vintage.

Accidental Renovator or Intentional?

I have found that Vintage Rv-ers who renovate an old Rv fall into three camps. The accidental renovator, who buys and older Rv and sees that is in still good shape, but a few years old. First, there are the tires that need replacing, then some bushings or the hot water tank is blown. Then hey, “What if I replace the floors and do some painting?” Then before you know it you have sunk $30k into it and all the problems areas have been replaced or repaired. Now you have an older Rv that has been all fixed up. So why sell it now? The second type is someone who is intentionally looking for a dilapidated Vintage RV and is looking to renovate for a profit of fun. The Third is the buyers of renovated RV’s.   

Can You Make Money On A Vintage RV?

The Quick answer is that Yes, you can. If you renovate an RV tastefully and restore the economic value, they can fetch upwards of $50,000. Some of the renovations that I have seen are just amazing and well thought out. Most sell for $10,000 to $30,000 that I have seen. The highest demand brand names like Airstream, Shastas, Aristocrat, Avion and fetch the most money. Not surprising they have been around for a long time and they have produced many RVs over the years.

How To Restore A Vintage Camper Trailer?

Restoring a Vintage RV takes some thought, design, and skill in executing the creation. The creative ideas are unlimited. Many of the highest valued Renovated RV’s have been more than just renovated to the original design, they are taking on a full renovation and updating everything. From the electrical to plumbing, heating, refrigeration and finally the esthetics. Many hours can be spent looking for parts and sourcing parts as well as installing. I have seen many great ideas on Pinterest. If you are also looking for creative inspiration, check out some of my favorite designs here.

How Much Does It Cost To Renovate A Vintage RV?

Renovating a vintage RV can be very little to tens of thousands of dollars. The expenses come slowly and over a long period of time as there are maintenance costs and upgrade costs to a vintage RV. If the previous owner did not spend any money on the RV, then guess what you get to pay for the maintenance costs of their ownership as well as yours. Then there are upgrade costs. If your RV is looking dated and you want to refresh the look, well that is going to cost you.  On the low end, the cheapest renovations are changing out flooring, light fixtures, paint, and adding new counters. On the high end, you might have problems with water damage or structural problems that can be quite costly. Then there’s getting the original style looking tail lights and decals, awnings and the like to restore the original look of the RV. Certainly, there can be no end to what can be spent in time and money on a renovation. Ideally, you might want to have some average numbers for parts and labor and start with a budget so costs don’t get out of control. Remember to add contingency costs in case you are wrong or if you have to buy from someone more expensive for the parts.

What About Other Costs Like Insurance?

Vintage Rv’s are a little different than a new RV. For a new RV, is the replacement value. For a vintage, you might have bought it for $5,000, put $4,000 into it and now it is worth $15,000. Well, a typical insurance company would give you $5,000 as that is what you paid for it. However, you know that on the market the value of your RV is worth $15,000 as people are willing to pay you for the Vintage of the RV. It is like art, in that it has a value that is different then what you may have paid for it. The trick to getting insured for what it is worth it to shop around and find an insurance company that will give you the value what’s it worth. You will probably have to get an appraisal for the insurance company to verify the market value of it. Personally, I would join a bunch of Facebook groups, contact other people that also have vintage RV’s and ask who they get their insurance from.

Vintage Rv Owners Unite

So you are finally done! Did you know that there are others out there that have been through the same journey and done the same? There are meetups and camping expeditions of others who are into renovating vintage RV’s as well. Here is a website dedicated to vintage campers. This website has magazines and all kind of information pertaining to vintage RV’s. I also found a vintage RV facebook group from sales to restoration, you can have a look at them here.

Conclusion

How much does a vintage Rv really cost? Well, the answer seems to be very broad from a few thousand dollars and escalates to 10,000 or more. I think that the right question to ask is, is it worth buying an older RV and doing the work overtime or just spend the money and get something newer? I think the answer is ultimately up to you if you want to spend the time and money or you happen to love the look of the old nostalgic looking RVs. Or is it that you can’t really afford a new RV and want to spend less and have something for the next few years and really love camping in an RV. Or even perhaps you can’t stand to see the value of your RV go down in value by 2% a month. I can tell you that I have a vintage motorhome and I love the time we spend in our RV and the memories we are creating are worth a lifetime for us. The memories are priceless.

About the author

Arthur