An example of vintage RVs sitting in a grassy field.

The Appeal of Vintage RVs

When you think of vintage RVs, the model that comes to mind may be an Airstream, a Shasta, a VW Westfalia conversion van, or maybe even a boxy Ford House Car. It’s possible there are childhood memories of a camper so fabulous that you wish you could find one and restore it and recapture the magic of days gone by.  Then again, maybe you were simply driving along when you saw a crazy looking retro camper that caught your eye and you haven’t been able to get it off your mind since. Whatever the reason and whatever the model, you have been feeling the yearning for a vintage RV.

You are not alone. Vintage RVs are making a comeback thanks to media coverage and the popular GAC show, Flippin’ RVs. There are pros and cons to the vintage RV appeal. Think a retro RV restoration project may be for you? Here are some things to consider before you buy that old fixer-upper.

Unique Look

The aesthetics of Vintage RVs certainly have an appeal. They have a look and feel about them that’s not found in modern RVs or vehicles at all. Though gaining popularity, even the new RVs which are retro-designed don’t fully capture vintage RV appearances. In the same way that a ’57 Chevy turns heads, vintage RVs are instantly recognizable. This elevates your RV to a kind of star status or at the very least, gives your RV a unique charm as you travel on the road.

Additionally, vintage RVs generally contain materials that aren’t commonly used in modern RVs. Heavy use of thick, solid wood paneling, stainless steel and leather upholstery was common then but is rarely found in today’s lightweight RV world.

The unique look of a vintage RV can be a big conversation starter during your travels across the country. If you don’t mind curious neighbors and being the center of attention at the campground, a vintage RV could be the right choice for you.

Potential for Value Appreciation

Most vehicles depreciate in value. With RVs people generally look at the long-term resale value vs. short-term depreciation. However, vintage RVs, like certain classic cars, can be sold for more than their cost depending on their condition. This means that you can potentially make a significant profit. If you restore an RV that you bought for a song and maintain it well, it is possible to reap the benefits of your investment upon resale.

Be advised of the time commitment involved in the restoration process. It won’t happen overnight or in a 60-minute TV segment. Restoring a vintage RV typically requires extensive work which is expensive and time-consuming. However, it is great for hobbyists who enjoy restoring old vehicles and have a knack for woodworking, electrical, plumbing and the like.

They’re a DIY Dream

For the Do-It-Yourself crowd, vintage RV restoration might be the perfect project. Old campers may lack some of the features of modern RVs, but that presents the opportunity for DIYers to customize a vintage RV to their liking. It can be a blank canvas to create the home on wheels of your dreams, or re-create a classic.

Keep in mind that even restored vintage RVs require a significant amount of maintenance and upkeep. If tinkering is your passion, restoring and maintaining a vintage RV can make a great pastime for mechanics or RV lovers.

What to Look Out for When Considering Vintage RVs

What Needs to be Fixed?

Realistically, it is highly unlikely that you will find any vintage RVs that won’t need immediate repairs or long-term fixing. Most of them will require extensive and intensive work to be done. However, it will be difficult to know what you need to fix until you own it.

If you’re purchasing a restored vintage RV, ask questions – lots of questions – about who restored it. It may look great, but it’s best not to trust someone lacking mechanical, electrical or plumbing knowledge. Fixes could have been made that are aesthetically pleasing, but won’t hold up in the long run.

Also, keep in mind that finding parts for an older RV can be difficult to impossible. You don’t want to find out you need to re-do a restoration job only to discover you can’t find the necessary parts to complete the project.

Lack of Safety Features

It may seem like stating the obvious, but modern RVs have modern safety features, even down to the materials used to build them. Vintage RVs have several potential problems that make them more hazardous on the road today. Materials alone can impact the safety rating of a vehicle.

When searching out your vintage RV, check out what safety features it offers. Additionally, take the time to make sure it works properly before you buy, especially if it’s a motorhome!

Expect Unexpected Costs

The best advice for anyone considering restoring vintage RVs is to expect the unexpected. Namely, consider all possible scenarios and budget for them. Because beyond all the things you know that will need to be done in restoring your vintage RV, inevitably more fixes are waiting to spring on you. So plan on extra time for restoring and repairing and be sure to overestimate your costs.

Remember, all vehicles no matter their age, experience wear-and-tear. It just so happens that older ones have decades of repair work which is rarely more effective than the original construction.

Vintage RVs are unique, eye-catching and nostalgic and you can follow your dream of restoring a vintage RV. Just remember to be realistic about the project you are undertaking, do your research and pad your time and financial estimates to reduce the frustration that could mount when one fix leads to another. Eventually, with enough time and investment, you will be living the dream of days gone by in your own piece of history that can only be experienced in vintage RVs.

We Can Help You Find the Right RV – Contact Us Today!

The professionals at RV Wholesale Superstore are ready to help you find the perfect RV for you and your family. Visit us in-person at 5080 W. Alexis Road, in Sylvania, OH or call us at (866) 640-9871

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