How We Got Old Vicky
Updated: Apr 12, 2019
Once we decided that we were going to DO this, things started moving really fast. We knew we wanted our bar to be an Airstream, for several reasons:
We were attracted to the history and the story of Airstreams; the fact that they are still being made in the US, and that more than 75% of all Airstreams that have ever been built (since 1933) are still on the road today! Seriously, I could geek out for hours about Airstreams, and maybe in another post, I will!
We noticed that as the mobile business industry grew, many of the trailers looked similar. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that— we just wanted to bring something different into the market to set ourselves apart.)
We also noticed that a lot of “Vintage" mobile bars weren’t actually vintage at all! They were built-from-scratch bars fabricated out of modern materials to have a vintage look and feel. We wanted our bar to be the real deal, just like our house, and our antique collection and everything else that fascinated us about the old ways of making things.
Our first step was to meet with an RV restoration expert in Hackensack, NJ. He gave us some great insight into what exactly we should be looking for when buying an older Airstream model. He gave us a really narrow window (pre-1970’s models are hard to find parts for, but post-1970’s models don’t have the vintage look we want) and some basic guidelines (doesn’t matter what the inside looks like, but major dents, holes or fire damage on the body were a big no-no) and helped us decided on a size (19’ – 23’). Of course, since we were working on a tight budget, price was also an issue. You’d be surprised how specific these criteria actually are. I knew we’d need to search far and wide to find the perfect trailer.
I spent the week scouring eBay, Craigslist and Facebook marketplace, expanding my search as far as Colorado and Florida. Our plan was to get an Airstream that met our requirements, have it shipped to us, and then gut it ourselves and deliver it to our RV expert in shell condition. We planned to use him to cut the large service window in the side of the trailer. We wanted to be sure that we were using a professional for this part of the job, as it would drastically alter the very structure and stability of the trailer and could affect its road-worthiness.
Thankfully, we got lucky and almost immediately found a 1972 Airstream Safari 23', in impeccable shell condition, and it was only two hours away— practically in our backyard. I exchanged messages with the current owner, Lisa, and we made arrangements to see the trailer. That Saturday morning, I sent Lisa a message saying that we were almost ready to leave the house and could she send me her exact address for the GPS. After a few minutes without a reply, she told me that she got me mixed up with another buyer with a similar name. There was another person en route from upstate New York, and they were scheduled to see the trailer two hours before us.
We were completely heartbroken, but Ryan wasn’t ready to give up. At his urging I contacted Lisa again and nicely asked if we could have a chance to buy the trailer if we could get there first. I persuaded her that having multiple buyers might work in her favor— maybe one of us wanted it more and was willing to pay over asking price. After another long (seemingly endless) pause, she told me that she looked back through her messages and had found that I had actually messaged her about the trailer ONE DAY before the other buyer. And that out of fairness, she felt that we should have first dibs. She contacted the other buyer and told her as much. The other buyer got angry and some tense messages back and forth ensued. Meanwhile, Ryan and I RACED to get to her house, terrified that she’d change her mind or that the other buyer would show up and try to outbid us.
Ryan’s parents live about 40 minutes closer to where Lisa was located, so after we told them the situation, they left their house immediately to meet us there. We are honestly so grateful for all they have done to mentor and help us through this process, going to RV shows with us, giving us amazing advice, and offering to keep our trailer in their yard while we work on it!
We knew the moment we saw old Vicky that it was meant to be. She was beautiful! EXACTLY what we were looking for, and the whole experience seemed like Kismet. It was hard to believe that I’d hatched this idea only five months ago, and here we were standing inside our Airstream. We were at a major turning point: the end of the planning stage and the beginning of the doing stage. Time to get down to work.
More posts about our renovation process to come!