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A Painted Airstream? 1976 Airstream Argosy Bicentennial

One of the most iconic trailer manufacturers is Airstream, easily identifiable by their shiny aluminum panels and rounded shape. Their classic design has stood the test of time, and even new Airstreams look extremely similar to their counterparts from decades ago. This 1976 Airstream Argosy Bicentennial edition, however, bucks that trend and is actually painted! It’s currently up for sale here on AuctionNinja, with the bidding at time of writing at $2,550. Thank you Barn Finder David for the tip.

The outside is a unique cream and light blue color. A quick online search for other Argosy trailers pulled up several with similar color schemes, so I’ll assume it was a factory option and not something a previous owner did. It appears to have held up well, with no major issues. There are some areas that look to be faded and a couple dents around the back end, but everything looks to be complete and free of corrosion. The glass looks to be good as well. The seller says is was recently towed 450 miles at freeway speeds, with no issues.

This trailer is claimed to be all-original, and when you see the wear and tear of the 70s-era retro interior that’s easy to believe. In this case though, all original means little to nothing since it’ll need a full restoration. In this photo, you can see the various wall papers and veneers are starting to peel (well, not starting. They have been peeling for a while, probably!). The avocado carpet has seen better days as well. I do think that the stove is pretty cool, I’d try to restore that rather than replace with a new unit. Through those doors is the bathroom, with an actual soaking bathtub. That means there is no dedicated bedroom, but just those two fold-out beds pictured.

On the front end of the layout is a space for the dining room table and a couple bench seats. Those wraparound windows would make for a nice view. Here’s a picture of what it could have looked like when it was new. I’m not sure what’s going on with the wood floor planks. Are they covering a hole, or is it the start of a project that just never got completed? This Airstream has a lot of potential, but it’ll take some work. One option is to restore to factory style of the 1970s. The other would be to go completely modern. Which would you choose?


  1. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Love it

    Like 1
  2. Steve Clinton

    Painting an Airstream is as big a sacrilege as painting a DeLorean.

    Like 12
  3. Stan Partin

    Sure looks like it was painted with brushes & rollers.

    Like 6
  4. Bob McK Member

    I wonder what it would cost to restore this. Removing the exterior paint would be quite a job. Then polish the aluminum. Think of the shine!

    Like 3
  5. BravoCharleyWindsor

    Let me know if I am wrong, but I always thought the Argosy models used fiberglass outer shell panels instead of sheet aluminum. Hence the need to paint the trailer.

    As a child/teenager our family vacations were travel trailer camping. First a Volunteer that I was too young to really remember, then a Norris, and finally an Airstream. All a lot of fun and I learned a lot in the process.

    Like 7
    • douglas hunt

      we had a pop up with twin slide out ends for the beds plus the table made a small bed
      lots of memories though ….

      Like 2
    • Elena

      Argosies are fiberglas with molded steel on the ends. Google will reveal many examples of nice paint jobs. This example–not one of them.

      The frames are not known for beefiness (which was corrected when Thor bought AS from Beatrice Foods in…79? I’m not sure when they bumped up the steel in the frames), thus the rear bath airstream and argosies were prone to sag. I would use something like this model for a stationary guest or office quarters. Bouncing down the road will bring tears. Look at how much of this trailer, and its holding tanks, are behind the axles. Don’t ask how I know this.

      Those are 2 twins in the back, not fold-out beds. Check out the folding TV antenna. We removed ours from our old AS and I still can’t figure out what to do with it. It would make a cool silver Xmas tree. Drying clothes?

  6. Piros1

    The Argosy line came painted the cream color from the factory. They were considered a down scaled version of the Airstream line if I remember correctly. I remember seeing them back in my younger years but never priced one for comparison. At that time in my life I was lucky I could afford a used Prowler.

    Like 8
  7. Car Nut Tacoma

    Very nice. I hope it goes to a good owner. I hope he has a truck to tow it with. For something like this, I would think a Chevy C20, a Ford F250, a Ram 2500, or possibly a Toyota Tundra.

    Like 1
  8. RMac

    The Argosy line of trailers was the “less expensive brand” experiment like mercury and Lincoln
    The argosy trailers were always painted never bare aluminum the line only lasted a few years

    Like 8
  9. DavidC

    The Argosy was always painted mainly because the two rounded upper end caps are steel and all the rest is aluminum. This was a cost saving feature to be able to offer basically the same trailer as the Airstream model but at a reduced cost. The cost of making the aluminum upper end caps for the Airstream was very expensive. I have a 28′ Argosy (redone) and I painted mine “Cadillac silver” so it looks like a traditional Airstream. The Argosy’s were always painted beige and brown (very ugly colors). I’ll be putting mine on the market early this next year.

    Like 13
    • SubGothius

      I gather polishing the aluminum was fairly labor-intensive as well, so painting the Argosy line also shaved off some cost there.

  10. Howie Mueler

    Big jump. $6,600 now, with six hours left.

    Like 1
  11. Tman

    I wonder how many people seen one and couldn’t help singing “We all live in a Yellow Submarine, Yellow Submarine, Yellow Submarine”?

    Like 3
  12. Troy

    Put some cardboard cutouts of the twin’s from the movie the shining in that hallway picture and it might double the price

    Like 2
  13. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $10,100.

  14. George

    The Argosy was the discount version of the airstream. It used lower quality aluminum and steel, requiring the need to be painted.

  15. DavidC

    I own a 1975 Argosy 28′. It is all aluminum with steel end caps and a steel frame.

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