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The Pros And Cons Of Renovating A Vintage Motorhome

interior of vintage motorhome with long bench, kitchen counter, and dining table

Is Renovating A Vintage Motorhome Worth It?

We’ve all seen adorable vintage campers on blogs and RV forums. Maybe you’ve even dreamed about buying one for yourself and fixing it up! The internet is full of inspiring DIY transformations where people turned a vintage motorhome into a cozy home away from home. 

Even though this may seem like fun, the process is much more complicated than it seems. There are certainly a lot of benefits to buying an old motorhome and fixing it up, but there are plenty of risks as well. Today, we’ll cover the pros and cons of renovating a vintage motorhome so you can decide if the dream is really worth the reality. 

Pros of a Vintage Motorhome

Freedom to Redesign

Of course, one of the biggest benefits of any renovation process is the freedom you have! When you own a motorhome, you’re welcome to do anything you want to it. Repaint the walls, replace the floor, install new appliances, etc. Renting doesn’t give you this freedom, and many people are nervous to mess with a fancy new model. Vintage motorhomes are just begging for some TLC, so you can fix them up and create your dream design. 

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Cheap to Buy

It’s no secret that new motorhomes are incredibly expensive. Standard models tend to go for $100,000 or more, so even if you buy one, there’s not much room left in the budget for personalization.

Vintage motorhomes have often seen a lot of wear and tear, so they’re much cheaper. You can find them for extremely affordable prices at used car lots or from forums where people are buying and selling their old models. Keep an eye on your local Facebook groups and Craigslist for things like this!

Classic Vintage Motorhome Appearance

The appearance is one of the biggest appeals for these motorhomes. Many of them have distinct colors and shapes that are hard to find on the market nowadays. They have a certain style that is considered charming and “retro” now. Even if you change everything inside, the outward appearance is something you’ll probably want to keep. 

One-of-a-Kind

Another benefit of vintage motorhomes is that each one is likely to be unique. The older they are, the fewer there are in circulation. In a lot of cases, you’ll be able to find a one-of-a-kind motorhome. Nowadays, a lot of campers look the same, but you can claim that you truly have something unique. 

Cons of a Vintage Motorhome

Black Streaks and Delamination

Although the exterior is often one of the most appealing parts of a vintage motorhome, you’ll have to be prepared to deal with things like black streaks and delamination.

If these campers were left outside for long periods of time, they may have permanent marks from dirt, UV radiation, and other debris. Sometimes these issues can’t be fixed without completely replacing the exterior, which can cost a lot of money. 

Water Damage in a Vintage Motorhome

Water damage is the enemy of RV owners everywhere. It’s especially dangerous in older models where the damage may have been left unchecked for months or years. If the damage is bad enough, it can lead to rotten wood, mold growth, and destroyed walls and floors.

Once again, you need to be prepared for a total renovation if you find severe damage. Even minor issues can take a lot of time and effort to resolve. 

Structural Weakness

Water damage, poor storage conditions, or just the age of the vehicle can lead to structural damage and weakness. The camper might not be able to hold the weight of passengers and appliances comfortably.

Be sure to thoroughly test the limits of your camper before you consider taking it out on the road. If the damage is bad enough, this may have to be a yard-bound RV because no amount of money can make it road-worthy again. 

Mechanical Failure in A Vintage Motorhome

Renovating a vintage RV can also be hard because it’s difficult to find the exact parts you need. Sometimes the manufacturer is no longer in business, or maybe they just don’t make the specific items you need anymore. You may have to compromise and use parts that aren’t exactly right. This leads to other issues down the road.

In addition, motorhomes are a combination of a living space and a vehicle. Trailers are somewhat easier to restore because they just need to be towed, not driven. If a motorhome won’t run, though, that’s a problem that’s hard to overcome. 

Outdated Fixtures and Furniture

Finally, vintage motorhomes are just that: vintage. They’re old and not up to today’s standards. The appliances will be old and may not function anymore. Many of them won’t have modern conveniences like running water and bathrooms. The furniture will likely be extremely unfashionable and out of date!

Of course, some of these problems can be fixed by replacing the appliances and furniture. However, sometimes you have to face the fact that you can’t fit everything you want into an old motorhome. 

Get tips from other RVers

Vintage motorhomes are a lot of fun to look at. You may even fantasize about owning one! However, you need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of this ordeal before you commit to it. If you bite off more than you can chew, you may end up with a real money pit.

On the other hand, there are lots of people that love their renovated RVs and can’t wait to do it all again. Just think carefully before you make your decision. 

One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.

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