Want to see the country in style? Consider buying a vintage RV for nostalgic but also practical travel accommodations. With the resurgence of RV living among millennials, it’s no wonder that vintage RVs have become so popular amongst hipsters.
How much does a vintage RV cost? On average, a vintage RV costs between $6,000 to $10,000 in reasonably good condition. A vintage RV in poor condition may cost from free to about $5,000.
Vintage RVs are an economical choice within an industry that is skyrocketing. Business Insider reported that 2020 sales are up 30% from the previous year. And RV manufacturers are struggling to meet demand.
Several factors affect the price of a vintage RV. Make, model and condition all affect the price. But on average, a good condition vintage RV costs between $6,000 and $10,000. This is significant savings compared to the cost of a new RV, which generally costs between $12,000 to $300,000.
But there are a couple of things you should know before buying a vintage RV. Otherwise, you may end up spending more money on renovating a vintage RV than purchasing a new RV. If you know what to look for, buying a vintage RV is an excellent way to see the country.
What to Consider When Buying a Vintage RV
While some may say that any RV that is older than twenty-five years should be considered vintage, most RV clubs argue that the RV or trailer must be built between 1946-1969 to be regarded as a vintage RV. When buying a vintage RV, the price can vary depending on:
Make and Model
There were several vintage RV manufacturers during the 1950s and 1960s, but the brands that hold their value the best are:
Depending on the model, these brands can appreciate with time. If they are in good condition, the older the model, the higher the price.
The trailer’s shape can also affect the price of the vintage RV. The canned ham shape or teardrop design is more expensive than the square-shaped trailers.
Most vintage RVs are built well and are very durable despite their age. Not made from synthetic materials, most vintage RV frames are built with Masonite or aluminum. The Airstream aluminum trailer is arguably the most iconic and will cost the most among vintage RVs.
Vintage RV Condition
Because vintage RVs are used vehicles, their condition is the most significant factor affecting the price. Most vintage RVs have had some or complete restoration work. Restored RVs can vary in price if the restoration includes original parts versus simple fixes. Depending on how the camper was was restored, it can determine if it is a collector’s item or a functional RV.
A vintage RV in poor condition generally indicates that everything must be repaired to function. Repairs could include:
- New walls
- New floors
- New roof
- New windows
- New everything if we’re being honest
Vintage RVs in poor condition cost typically between free to $5,000.
Just know, if you buy a vintage RV in poor condition, you’re going to need to sink a lot of money into it before you can use it. If this isn’t a pet restoration project, you may want to look for an RV in better condition.
Fair to Good Condition
The most common condition for a vintage RV is fair/good. When in this condition, the RV may require minor do-it-yourself repairs due to:
- Floor rot
- Roof damage
- Broken window
Vintage RVs in fair/good condition typically cost between $6,000 to $10,000. These trailers are generally ready for use after you purchase.
Vintage RVs in excellent condition are usually collector items that have been fully restored with original parts. These RVs are in beautiful condition and will be the envy of friends and neighbors. Just know, you’re going to have to pay to ride in style. The upside is that if well kept, the RV will be a fun investment that will appreciate over time.
Excellent condition vintage RVs can cost between $10,000 to $50,000. These recreational vehicles are ready to roll when you buy them.
Where to Buy a Vintage RV
Specialized vintage RV websites and local classifieds are great places to find vintage RVs for a fantastic price. Other sites to find good deals on RVs include:
- Your local Facebook marketplace
- Estate sales
- Storage unit close-outs
When buying online or from classifieds, be sure to inspect the RV before buying. And avoid scams. Never send money to an unverified seller before you pick up the RV.
What to Inspect Before You Buy
When buying a vintage RV, you should verify that the owner has the original title. Then you should inspect the vehicle for:
- Any signs of rust or degradation
- Dry rot on the tires
- Working lights
- Delamination on exterior fiberglass
- Dents in aluminum
- Soft spots or rot on the interior floor
- Water damage to the roof or around vents (common problem)Working appliances, electrical, and plumbing
Also, as a good rule of thumb, ask the seller to tow the vehicle down the street to determine if it is safe on the road. If they refuse, this may be a red flag.
Determine Restoration Costs
Once you inspect the vintage RV, you’ll need to calculate how much it will cost for restoration and repairs. Be very prudent because too many costly repairs may turn your RV into a money pit. Typical restoration and repair costs include:
- Electrical systems: Depending on the RV’s condition, you may want to contact a mechanic for an estimate because some electrical repairs are challenging to do yourself and can be very expensive.
- Plumbing systems: This is another system that may require a professional’s help depending on the needed repairs.
- Exterior: These parts may become more costly if you restore using original parts.
- Interior: Original parts versus custom upgrades will widely influence the cost of repairs.
- Appliances: Depending on your model, you may need to install a new range, oven, furnace, water heater, or refrigerator. In some cases, it may be more affordable to replace the appliance rather than fix a part.
- LP System: This is your gas line, LP tanks, gas regulator, and hoses.
If your repairs add too much to the RV price, you may want to look for an RV in better condition. If it is an iconic retro camper, you may want to weigh the restoration costs against what will be valued when finished.
How much does a vintage RV cost summary
A vintage RV is an affordable way to see the country. Amid travel restrictions, a Kampgrounds of America (KOA) study found that 34% of Northern Americans think road trips are the safest way to vacation during the pandemic. And a vintage RV is a stylish way to travel.