A day doesn’t go by that we don’t get an email from someone thinking they have a “rare” trailer and that must mean it is worth thousands of dollars. They searched the internet and can’t find another one like it. Check out the classified ads and see how many have the word “rare” in the title.
Unfortunately, that typically means that they have an unpopular brand or a brand that quickly went out of business. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth restoring and using but don’t expect to cash in on your rare find. It will mean that it will be harder to find parts, information and details to help you with your project and buyers of these rare trailers need to understand that.
There are some trailers that are actually rare. Examples are Bowlus trailers that were early trailer built in the 1930’s and started the aluminum aerodynamic styling. Very few exist today and prices can go for six figures. Other examples would be the 1930s Curtiss Aerocar which is the first fifth wheel or the Airstream Torpedo which is an early prototype.
What drives value?
Trailers that are in demand and popular are more valuable: Airstreams, Spartans, Avions, Shastas, Scottys, Vagabonds, Alohas, etc. Why is this? There are different reasons for their popularity – design qualities, originality, unique features, ease of towing, etc. But the market determined that they are popular and will likely remain popular for a long time.
Why are they more valuable? If they are popular then you’re likely to have more buyers interested in your trailer. How can you tell if your trailer is in the popular category? – just Google the manufacturer and see if you can find a club or forum devoted to that trailer.
Older trailers are more valuable that newer trailers. Trailers that have survived the hardships of time and weather are more valuable to a collector. Trailers made of masonite siding and pre-war trailers are most valuable.
Does the length of the trailer effect the value? Yes – but quite often it is not what you expect. For the Vintage trailer lover, smaller sometimes is what they are interested in. They are easier to tow and can pair up with a vintage tow vehicle. This doesn’t mean smaller trailers are always more expensive but it can give a premium to a cute little trailer.
Real wood and craftsmanship always adds value to a trailer. This is one of the reasons people love vintage trailers.
Original interiors add value to an interior but there is a market for gutting an interior and providing all the modern conveniences.
The only way to determine the value of a vintage trailer to find a number of trailers comparable to yours, similar to what is done in the Real Estate market. Comparisons are the single-best tool in determining a vintage trailer’s value. They contrast criteria from recently-sold trailers in a market, such as sale price, age, length, and condition of the trailer. The TCT classifieds have had over 10000 vintage trailers listed and you can search on the year, make, model of your trailer to identify comparable trailers to help you determine the value of your trailer.
There is no blue book for vintage trailers.
No one is going to be able to give you a value over the internet without being able to inspect the trailer in person.
There is a big difference in the value of a trailer from one that is in mint condition to one that needs a complete restoration.