This Venture Capitalist Invests Her Free Time In Unique Airstream Renovations
When venture capitalist Renata George is not focused on her demanding job, she is searching for vintage Argosy Airstreams and giving them a snazzy makeover. Airstream renovations have become her favorite pastime.
“It’s an outlet for my creative side because in my profession there’s not much that you can do creatively,” George said in an interview with Insider. “I do not get tired from this work. I do this in between my main work. It helps me charge. When people say it’s cool to have a hobby that pays, I realized a proper hobby should be entirely different from a job. It’s very useful for the clarity of your brain.”
For over the past five years, George has renovated a total of seven vintage Airstreams, and she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
How did George get started with Airstream renovations?
George was introduced and ultimately fell in love with RVs while attending the extravagant Burning Man festival for the first time. She was intrigued with every aspect of it, especially the camping part. She immediately bought her first rig, a 33-foot Airex motorhome, upon returning home.
“It was extremely ugly,” she said . “My boyfriend at the time said, ‘I cannot drive this thing around.'”
George and her boyfriend went to work, making over the RV with a fresh coat of paint and military-themed flair. Even with the new look, George was not interested in keeping the motorhome. Besides being a challenge to drive, George just didn’t feel like it was a good fit for her.
She eventually ditched the Airex for her true love, Airstreams. Although initially intrigued by the aluminum Airstreams, George quickly learned that she was more attracted to the Argosy model. She explained that, unlike most Airstream models that sport the signature aluminum exterior, the Argosy model can be painted, and they are lightweight.
She painted the outside of her first Argosy blue and named it “Berry.” She also revamped the interior. George ended up selling the unit because she wasn’t satisfied with the length or floor plan.
And thus was the birth of George’s newfound hobby, renovating Argosy Airstreams and then selling each one after completion. She keeps an eye out, all the while, for the one that is truly meant for her, with just the right size and floor plan.
“I was looking for the perfect house for myself,” George said. “That was the purpose.”
Her renovation process
George’s renovation process is pretty routine. She hunts for Argosy models online or in person.
Since Airstream only produced the Argosy model between the narrow timeline of 1972 to 1978, George said it’s become a bit of a challenge to find one. Once she does find one, the purchase price is anywhere from $5,000 and $14,000.
As far as renovations go, George leaves the exterior paint job to the professionals. She hires shops in Reno and Los Angeles for this part of the project, which is the most expensive. Paint jobs have cost up to $10,000.
George has taken on the task of remodeling the interior. In previous redos, she’s added new upholstery and replaced old flooring, all while being careful to preserve the original structure and furnishings as realistically as possible.
A single DIY Airstream reno takes George between two to six months.
How much do her Airstream renovations cost?
In total, a renovation project costs George a minimum of $15,000. Most restored Airstreams sell for over $50,000 on average. George keeps her prices below $35,000.
“I do not price them crazy high because that’s not the point,” George said. “It’s my hobby. It’s not a business. I’d rather people enjoy it.”
Her future of renovating Airstreams
After five years of Airstream makeovers, George found her “for now” home-on-wheels, a 24-foot-long 1976 Airstream Argosy with a front dinette and office space in the back. The exterior, inspired by Curtiss-Wright’s P-40 Warhawk plane from World War II, features a shark mouth. The interior is now black.
She continues remodeling Airstreams, even as she lives and works from the road. In fact, she said, her latest Airstream renovation may end up being her next RV abode.
Check out this DIY paint job on a 1979 Airstream Argosy
Not every RV renovator hires professionals to paint their unit’s exterior. RVers like Kyle and Olivia Brady of Drivin and Vibin took on the challenge of painting their own 1979 Airstream Argosy. They detail their first-time experience in the video below. You can also read more about their renovation in our previous article.
Talk more about Airstream renovations on Air Forums
For more insight and advice on Airstream restoration, repair, and parts, look no further than Air Forums, the largest Airstream trailer and Airstream motorhome enthusiasts community online.