What does it cost to buy and renovate a vintage Airstream?

In my last entry I mentioned that I am into my 1972 Airstream Overlander for $7,000, not including some planned for, and in some cases paid for, future improvements. When I total it all up, the figure looks closer to $11,000! Does that mean you have to have in excess of $10,000 lying around to get and enjoy a vintage Airstream? The answer is a resounding – NO!

The fact of the matter is we camped in, and thoroughly enjoyed our Airstream that first summer and at that point were into it for only $5,300. As a matter of fact when I looked at the photo of our first boondocking experience in Chelmsford, Mass, I was amazed at how different our trailer looked without an awning. Awnings are nice, I’m glad we have one now, but we were still able to hit the road and enjoy our camper without it. The same could be said for many of the improvements we have made. IMG_8830

It is important to note that the improvements were made over the course of four years and therefore the costs were spread out over the four years as well.

I’ll break down our cost by year. Some of the costs are from memory but I am confident they are an accurate reflection of what I spent.


  • $3,500. Purchase 1972 Airstream Overlander             
  •       300. Upholstery Fabric  
  •       150. Toilet
  •        200. BlueBoy external grey water tank
  •        750. Tires (5)
  •        160. Countertop Laminate   
  •        200. Misc plumbing/lights/hardware/flooring
  •        125. Water pump

            $5,385. Total Cost Through 2009


  •        100. Labor (plumber)
  •     1,200. Awning and delivery
  •        180. Fantastic Vent

            $6,865. Total Cost Through 2010


  •         275. Hot Water Heater
  •         350. Furnace
  •         300. Parts and Labor Refrigerator Seals

           $7,790. Total Cost Through 2011


  •          303. New Self Adjusting Brakes (including backing plates)
  •          100. Powdercoat Cooktop
  •          200. Power converter (replaced Univolt)
  •          285. Electric Tongue Jack
  •            35.  LP Gas Regulator

           $8,713. Total Cost Through 2012


  •       1,300. Axles and shipping (paid for, but not yet received)
  •       1,300. Refrigerator and shipping (paid for, not received) 

          $11,313. Total Cost Through 1/15/13

Note: Just about all the labor was done by my wife and myself. I wouldn’t even want to venture a guess at how much this would have cost if we had a professional do it, but I am certain we would not have been able to afford it!

We will be using a professional, Colin Hyde, of Peru, New York to install grey tanks, this spring. I’ll write about that later.

5 thoughts on “What does it cost to buy and renovate a vintage Airstream?

  1. I purchased a 1972 Overlander this summer,for $5,000. Sounds like the same deal. i now have about $1, 000 towing eguipment,and fixing labor. Now Wife wants new ref. and stove.needs Awning. Having brakes and wheel bearings checked out next week. I will have about $ 10, 000 before I hit the road.if axles and bearings are OK. HOPING

  2. My husband and I just purchased a 1975 overlander completely original. Its at a shop right now being checked over by an expert Airstream restorer. As soon as we purchased it I started looking to replace every appliance in it. When I called this guy he said let him check it first “its very possible the appliances even the AC might still work”. I’m skeptical but he’s the expert. I bought my 1975 Overlander for $1,500.00 we plan on using our on demand propane hot water heater we were going to use in another project.
    Can I ask where you got the awning mine is missing and definitely want to replace it? Thank you! Lisa

    • I ordered my through Inland Airstream in California. It was shipped directly from the manufacturer. Ordering through Inland was helpful because they knew exactly what I needed, even if I didn’t.

      $1,500 is a great price. Where do you live? Was the trailer located nearby?

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