Hi all. I am a newbie here. Purchasing and restoring a vintage trailer has been on my written Bucket List for quite some time. I thought a Spartan would be my dream trailer, but figured I'd be pretty happy just finding a trailer of any brand, that I loved, for a price I can afford, that didn't need too much work for my first endeavor.
I recently stumbled upon an opportunity to purchase a 1956 American, 32 footer. In trying to research it, I have hit a dead end on American Coach in general. I was able to find someone (via Tin Can Tourist) who sent me some old ads, and a photo of the exterior of a restored (GORGEOUS!) one from the 40s. That's it. I can't find any pictures by Googling. I can't find a record of any bought or sold on Craigslist or elsewhere for price reference -- or anything else.
Does anyone here have any information, records, ads -- anything? I'd like to know what my investment should be, etc. Thanks!
Here's some fun fotos for vintage lovers..
Love it! Thank you!
Oh yea, welcome to the forum!!
Pics..we need pics!! :-]
I only have one pic so far, and it doesn't show much. I hope to get more pics this week, and hopefully even take a drive to look at it in person.
Here it is:
I like it already! The wrought iron scrolls look interesting.
See there -- and I hadn't even noticed them yet! I'm dying of curiosity what the rest of it looks like -- what condition it's in in general, and if it's been kept in vintage condition or has been gutted and redone, etc.
My mom is going that direction today and I am hoping she will have time to stop and take some pics for me to tide me over until I can get over there.
Prices on vintage RVs, especially rare ones, is very subjective. Unless you can find several for sale to compare with, it can be frustrating, especially when you can't even find pictures or any data at all for it. And, just because it's rare, doesn't make it valuable. RV aren't like automobiles in this respect. Only a very few hold a high value. The value is created by the buyer and seller based mostly on condition. The best thing to do is to find similar units for sale and see what they are going for (Year, size, amenities & condition). Remember, the selling price is often much lower than the asking price. Also, keep in mind that, although just about anything in an RV can be replaced with something different, if you're looking to keep it original, the rarer the RV, the more difficult and expensive it is to find original parts. If you have a lot of restoration to do, even if you can do most or all the work yourself, you can run into an investment far greater than the cost of buying the RV. We've all been there and done that though because we just love these classic RVs!
Thank you! COST of restoration is definitely a factor. With this one, at least I won't need to be in a hurry as I will be using it as a stationary vacation home I think. I have a (tacky, if I may say so) "vintage" 1980s bunkhouse trailer that I tool around in with my kids that is utilitarian but not along the lines of what I'd call charming like this one.
I am hoping more people can give me info on what some have sold for, etc. In the meantime, I need to physically see it and see what kind of shape it is in. Do any of you have suggestions about what models would be good to compare to? Spartan? Airstream? I'm just unsure of what to compare it to because demand may be more for more well known brands, therefore driving the price up.
It's very difficult to make out much from that one photo. Hopefully, you can get more to post. A quick search on eBay I at least found something on 1956 American (sales brochure):
Airstream may be a comparable but, they are high end, high quality and reputation and go for higher $ on the used market than pretty much everything else.
Hey and a belated welcome to GORV,
That sounds like a huge but neat old trailer... In buying it - you'll intuitively know pretty quick if it's the trailer for you. As long as the seller is not asking the moon for it "Here's a rare jewel of a trailer - only 50 made - so it's now worth X times $X.XX exponentially greater than reality".... as mentioned all the old stuff is just worth whatever you are willing to pay.... The cheaper the better obviously... All of the old stuff needs a complete going through regardless of how they look. So, unless the body is being held up by vines growing around it and your foot goes through the floor when you step in...she's a viable candidate, but even a decrepid one may have value as a parts donor trailer.
Just assume it will need virtually everything... so it's good news if it doesn't. Most trailer and motorhome builders bought appliances and parts off the shelf so finding some things might be a challenge - but not impossible. Many folks here have also managed to capture the soul and spirit of the earlier stuff with contemporary finishings.
One other consideration, at 32 foot, it almost sounds like a first generation 5th-wheel. Is that something you will be able to tow and manage? I can almost promise you , there will be some engineering involved to add modern conveniences like brakes to the trailer. You may need to upgrade the springs and axle(s) of the trailer also. And one that size can have almost any amenity you want.
And so, like most of us, you will end up with way more time and money in the trailer/coach than you planned and/or is economically sane, but you'll have a trailer that's you and yours.
Probably not saying anything you don't already know or haven't already heard, and hopefully encouraging... I, for one would always rather have more than I should in a "classic" piece anyway than a new anything.
Thank you all. I am hoping to get up there to look at it physically next week. I will take pics and post them. I know it has been stored outside but completely under cover for at least the last several years. I have no idea of exterior or interior condition other than what that picture shows, and speculation according to how it's priced. The one thing I really am hoping for is BIRCH interior.
I will probably not pull this one around, but leave it parked as a vacation home. Although if it's sweet (comes that way or I make it that way) I might want the option to pull it to rallies.
Thanks again -- I'll try to keep you 'posted'.