No Reserve Rarity: 1975 Airstream Argosy

As the seller tells it, this 1975 Airstream Argosy is one of the rarer models offered as it’s a solid 20 footer. No, not that it looks good from a distance, but that it is twenty feet long, which should provide plenty of interior room while being somewhat easy to maneuver around town. The Argosy has been cared for since new, only recently falling into mild neglect after coming north from Florida and then sitting for three years in a Massachusetts garage. That’s probably a good thing, in reality, as it means it wasn’t traversing salt-caked winter roads. This is a no reserve auction and the interior is in beautiful condition. Find the Argosy here on eBay with bids approaching $17,000.

The Argosy is otherwise known as the “painted Airstream,” available as a motorhome and pull-behind trailer. These featured a one-piece design, which was super helpful for keeping the elements out and the insides water-tight. The iconic Airstream trailer that gets people digging deep into their wallets is a multi-piece design, so it’s not as if there’s a stainless steel body hiding underneath here. The Argosy has been in the same family for ten years and it sounds like a relative passed away in Florida, which began the motorhome’s trek to Massachusetts. Now, the house has been sold and the Argosy is being sold as part of the estate wind-down.

The interior is in excellent condition, far better than you’d expect for an unrestored cabin. Whenever I see a vintage motorhome with an interior that features the original cushions, pillows, dining surfaces, and driver compartment furnishings all in excellent condition, it leaves me feeling quite confident that the previous owner truly loved their home on wheels. The number of completely trashed motorhomes that show up for sale is stunning, and conversely, it’s amazing how much more valuable they become when someone simply takes care of it and stores it correctly when not in use. The Argosy has always been garage stored and it’s completely obvious based on the photos.

While it has clearly been loved, that hasn’t stopped the owners from investing in period maintenance. Some of the recent work includes a new outside awning, generator, and mufflers; inside, the propane tank, hot water heater, and both windshields have all been replaced. I can’t even imagine how you go about finding replacement windshields for a vintage Argosy. The wood paneling and the toilet area all look incredibly clean in pictures, clearly a vehicle that lived in a fastidious household. The seller notes that due to sitting, the Argosy will need some maintenance items addressed, including new brakes and and tires, and should be towed. Still, it runs and I’d be sorely tempted to make the repairs on site and then hit the open road.

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    I’ve never seen one of these before, and this one appears to be a very nice example. Perfectly sized for the novice/beginner RV’er, and the Chevy powertrain should be easy to maintain. The new owner should be well pleased! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 2
  2. DayDreamBeliever Member

    https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/1073090686463027

    Interesting that all sellers add “Airstream” to the name. AFAIK, they were sold as just “Argosy”. And all were painted. They share shapes and some features with proper Airstream coaches of the same vintage, but they were marketed and sold at significantly lower pricing, and with good reason.

    • Lori

      Day Dream Believer: Thank you for your wisdom. We contacted the person in Cincinnati. Grateful for your help.

      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        If you have never owned a motorhome before, do a lot of research before plunking down hard-earned money. There are plenty of resources available online which will tell you what to look for, and what to absolutely avoid.

        I searched for over three years before buying my Foretravel, and am glad I waited and was very selective. Still, I had to invest $ immediately on tires, an alternator, and a water heater.

        Like 1
    • Joel

      Argosy is, and always has been, a division of Airstream. But you are correct. Even new Argosy does not have the quality or cost of Airstream.

      Like 1
  3. Jerry Member

    One of the issues with old RVs is roof leaks! The exterior roofs need to be sealed every so often.
    Need pics of the ceiling inside the RV, look for water stains in the ceiling….and if theres waves or “lumps” on the exterior it shows water damage in the walls which means NASTY mold issues….any “musty” smell is a clue, but that can be easily masked with air freshener/shampoo.
    These old RVs are BIG TIME money pits, always something breaking or needing to be replaced, don’t ask me how I know!

    Like 5
    • Jerry Member

      I should clarify im talking old RVs in general, this “one piece” design isnt as prone to roof leaks but still has a LOT of components to keep running.

    • Martin

      Airstreams don’t usually leak. Look at the roof construction. Its one reason why they get high dollars.
      The trouble with such a small motorhome is there is no bed. Every night you have to make something up, and every morning you have to put it away again so you can move around.

      Like 2
      • Lori

        I couldn’t figure out what size the bed is. Don’t mind putting it away each day. However, the comments about it being overpriced are concerning. My hubby and I were considering bidding but now have reservations after seeing these knowledgeable comments.

      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        Lori,
        There are others around, which may be in even better shape than this one. Check out the link I posted above for comparison.
        At the price this short one is likely to go for, IMO it is no bargain.
        I own a ’91 motorhome, and love it. Quite a bit longer than this one though, and diesel power.

        Like 2
  4. Maestro1 Member

    I have a friend who lives in a California fire zone and has a travel trailer on his property which has been used twice for the purpose of saving himself and his family. The thing is maintained and ready to go at a moment’s notice; batteries are kept charged, and so on. I”ve wondered why he hasn’t moved, but there he is, prepared for the next disaster.

    Like 2
  5. Al Braybrook

    I have a 74 FMC motorhome which sat for 20 yes and I spent $10,000 on it and I am now enjoying it

    Like 3
  6. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    There’s no such thing as a “hot” water heater, hot water doesn’t need heated, cold water does, therefore it’s just “water heater”.
    Nice motor home though. No bed does make for additional work, but the benefits of airstream design makes it worth it.
    I’ve been down the old motor home trail before, it is labor, time and cost intensive.
    God bless America

    Like 2
  7. Dave Mathers

    Price is way too high regardless of the condition.

    Like 2
  8. Jerry

    Last year I paid $9,000 for a 24′ 1994 Fleetwood Flair with a Ford 460 and 50,000 miles.
    Exterior was faded but interior was in decent shape WITH a Queen bed. Everythung worked on it except the fridge didnt get real cold.
    I drove it from So Cal to South Carolina and lived in a RV park for 3 months untill I found a house I wanted.
    I sold it a couple months later for $7,000 I could have held out for a little more but I wasn’t getting many calls on it……im surprised that smaller Airstream is at $17,000.

    Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      And a huge part of the perceived value is the connection to “Airstream”. Actual Airstream coaches go for a TON of money, but I have never seen one this short. The Argosy coaches were not built to the same standard, and they lacked many features. But for sure, sellers are leaning on the Airstream association to raise the value of what they have to sell. Buy as an Argosy, sell as an Airstream Argosy.

      Like 2
      • Chuck H

        You’re not the only one to say this… but it is incorrect. The Argosy WAS actually made by Airstream. It is an Airstream product. Not a knock off. Much of the labeling actually says “Argosy by Airstream.” The Argosy line, however, was a slightly cheaper line – they were painted (vs plain aluminum), and the endcaps were steel (it was very costly to make the rounded aluminum end caps with the compound curves out of aluminum). And some of the interior finishes were on the low end for Airstream also.
        As such, Argosy motor homes and trailers resell for a little less than a similar-vintage all-aluminum-shell-Airstream, but not much less. Nonetheless, they are an actual Airstream product. I’m just hoping to provide a little clarity.

        Like 1
      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        Chuck H
        You will have to point out to me where I say that the Argosy line was a knock off or had no affiliation to Airstream. Perhaps I didn’t make it clear enough that the Argosy was a (much) lower tier unit than those produced which wore only the Airstream badge.
        Within the last two weeks, I saw a listing for a front end cap for an Argosy. I didn’t pay much attention, and it is gone now/can’t find it. But I am left with the notion that it was fiberglass, not steel.
        And I guess we’ll have to stick with a difference of opinion about how disparate the sales prices are for the two nameplates. They are a mile apart, from what I have seen. Not to say that a few Argosy units have not brought really good money, but those have invariably been gutted and rebuilt in an extremely upscale way, often including stripping and polishing the aluminum exterior panels.

  9. Tom Smith

    This 20 ft is indeed rare, and very much sought after – especially in this condition. Argosy’s are increasing substantially in value. They were lower-priced, compared to similar Airstreams, but they were still a significant investment. Argosy acted as an R&D area to check the viability of design options. Argosy division of Airstream shut down in the 1980’s. They are not made anymore. The older models of airstream and argosy are considered to have higher build quality than current models. There are several groups on the internet where knowledgeable advice can be found. We camp with a 1976 28 ft Argosy made by Airstream At over 40 years old, it stands up very well.

    Like 1
    • Jerry Member

      Without a real bed its not worth close to 17K imop.
      The “as far as we know all appliances work” isn’t very convincing.
      I wouldn’t pay more than 10 or 12K, rarity doesnt keep u on the road or comfortable.

  10. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Sold for $20,259, according to the listing.

    Since I am (unfortunately, sometimes) unafraid of projects, I’d be far more inclined to pick up a longer, Airstream branded unit, and do what is required to make it into what I wanted. These shorties have some kitschy appeal I guess.

    But this seems to be a much better option, IMO:
    https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/2831328343787849/

    Like 1

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