I had be been bidding feverishly on eBay since early August. I kept losing out at the last second on at least five vintage Airstream over the course of a month. Finally in late August I did a 'buy it now' on a '66 Overlander located down in northern NC - $2500 seemed like a good deal since everything had been slipping away from us at $3000+. Based on the scant description from the current owner it sounded like we'd be able to shoot down to NC on a Friday night, do some check over on Saturday and head back to Jersey on Sunday.
We had two weeks between when I did the buy it now and when we planner to pick up the Overlander. In the course of those two weeks I had put through some basic information and pictorial requests from the current owner, as follows: tire condition, umbilical cord pictures, etc. Well, after stalling on the owners part and just days before Katy and I were heading to NC we finally received via email more photos. They were quite revealing. Tires were shot, it had split rims so we were looking at needing new rims - I did some quick math and we were looking at $680 total in tires and rims. Not the end of the world since $2500 was a pretty good number.
However, from the tire photos I notice a couple of black holes on the exterior - missing vent covers. I started doing a quick search across the vintage Airstream site on the net and discovered these vent covers are incredibly rare and hard to find. The advise I was getting was to have them fabricated. Yikes! After further inquiry with the current owner, we learned that the oven vent had been missing for quite some time and the floor on the inside in that area was rotted out.
Oohh-kaaay. I got out the calculator - no guarantee that any of the appliance were in working order (fridge, stove, A/C, furnace, etc.) - of which would easily cost another $2500 + labor time for the rip out and install. At this point, we realized the reason why the current owner was tardy in getting us any info -- stalling tactic. Katy and I talked it over and decided to pull the plug on this purchase cutting our losses. Not an easy decision in that we had both been obsessing over this purchase for two weeks and took a crash course in vintage Airstream ownership. Yes, we did reach the end of Airstreams on the internet.
Well I had to write that hard email and let the current owner know we were backing out. He replied with a fast tally of his costs for the eBay listing and I told him to hold onto the $100 deposit we sent down. We told each other we would not post a negative remark at eBay in relations to this non-purchase.
So on Wednesday of that week we were back to square one - looking for an Airstream. I decided classifieds might be the way to go because of this horrible eBay experience. I hit the Airstream.net classifieds. Low and behold, a '78 Excella 500 was listed and it was here in NJ. The asking price was way more than we wanted to initially spend on a Vintage trailer - but after all the research we did, we learned you're not going to get into a fully functioning, road worthy Airstream for less than $5000. Besides, Katy started talking about maybe buying a new one and paying it off for the next fifteen years. I knew I had to move quick in finding another vintage Airstream.
I called the owner immediately. Spoke to Mary and asked if we could come down to the beach that coming Saturday to look her over and do the deal. Mary (savvy maybe) mentioned that someone else was coming to look her over on Sat. I told her we would meet her the NEXT DAY as I wasn't going to let this one get away.
Katy and I drove down to the Airstream Park Friday morning - classic scene - two cell phones going the whole ride down as not to loose an entire day of work. We met Mary at noon and handed her the cash at 12:05 pm. We found our Airstream Shangri-La!