The Kirby Heritage Vacuum Cleaner

The Kirby Heritage vacuum cleaner was manufactured from 1981 to 1989.

From 1981 to 1984, the company manufactured the original Heritage vacuum in the colors of a gray and orange.

The Heritage I model lasted three years.

From 1984 to 1989, the company offered the Kirby Heritage II vacuum, in the colors of gray, red and charcoal.

Here’s some neat information I found on the company’s official website about the Heritage II.

“Some of the standard features on the Kirby Heritage II /Legend included:

  • Polymer Kirby Kaddy to store the many Kirby attachments
  • Improved swivel tube hose – non-metallic design
  • Scuff retardant bumper
  • Streamlined nozzle with Brush Performance Indicator Light
  • Upright cleaner
  • Mattress cleaner
  • Tank canister cleaner
  • Reusable vacuum cleaner bags

The Heritage II /Legend vacuum also included an entire group of convenience attachments that featured a crevice tool, utility brush nozzle, duster brush, extension wand and more.”

Source: Kirby Website

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I’m not sure how much either model initially sold for, I’m guessing at least $500.

Many of these old Kirby Heritage vacuum cleaners are still in use today.

After all, they are designed to be high quality and last a long time.

You can even get parts for these old vacuums online, by visiting the company website, by checking out eBay or Amazon, or simply by doing an Internet search for old Kirby vacuum parts.

I’ve also noticed a lot of old Kirby Vacuums for sale on Craigslist.

One of the things I like about the Kirby Heritage vacuum is that you can buy them cheap now.

If you look on eBay, or other websites, you can find a good used one for $100 to $150.

This is a great alternative to spending a couple thousand dollars for a brand new Kirby vacuum.

It’s also competitively priced with other new vacuums.

It might not look as fancy as some of the new models, but I can assure that it works just as well!

kirby heritageWhile there are many critics of the Kirby Heritage vacuum cleaner, claiming that it is way overpriced, there are also many loyal customers who swear by it.

Ultimately, you have to decide what is best for you.

If you are on a tight budget and can’t afford one, don’t buy a new Kirby.

Get a used one instead.

But if you have the money and want a new Kirby, please note that it will probably last you the rest of your life.

If you own a Kirby Heritage I or Heritage II vacuum cleaner, I would really love to hear from you.

How long have you had it?

What do you like about it?

Do you still use it?

How much did it originally cost you?

Please share your personal story about your Kirby with the rest of our online community.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Just leave a comment to this post to share your thoughts.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Kirby.  Kirby is a registered trademark.  All views in this article are simply my opinion.

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48 thoughts on “The Kirby Heritage Vacuum Cleaner”

  1. My father in-law totally lucked out and recently found a pristine Kirby Heritage along with a big box of accessories & user manual that had been put out on the curb with the garbage!! He snapped it right up and offered to gift it to our family but I thought I’d research resale value & try to make a little dough instead. However, having read all of these loyal owners touting them as both great products and investments, I’m now quite sure it would be sweet to keep for myself!! I love the iconic design, it kind of feels like you own a piece of history. From what it sounds like they are built to last too- they just don’t build things like this anymore!!! I’ve invested in my share of fancy vacuums that have boasted they give magical results & include endless
    attachments or have some double or triple functionality. Every single vacuum has always fallen short! It’s actually kind of a strange phenomenon, we all just keep buying into these things and we tell ourselves it must be normal to throw out one of the most expensive and necessary appliances in our homes ANNUALLY! Seriously, what are we even doing guys? We’ve got to take the power back and demand a quality vacuum with a price in proportion to its lifespan!!! Long live the Kirby! -decidedly newest fan

  2. I inherited my grandmothers Kirby Heritage I when I moved into my very first apartment nearly 20 years ago. She and my grandfather purchased it new in 1981 for around $600.00 I believe. She was a frail woman and suffered greatly from rheumatoid arthritis so the machine was a bit difficult for her to use, but being the clean freak she was- she would use nothing else. The machine even survived the May 3rd F5 tornado that hit Oklahoma City and demolished her home in 1999- the Kirby was found sitting upright by itself in a field a few feet from where her house was. That is around the time I recieved the the machine- the sweet woman loaded it up in her car all by herself, and drove it clear across the city ,hauled it up three flights of stairs to hand deliver it to me- she said I needed a good “vac-cum” for my new place and it was just too much for her to use anymore. All it required was a new outer bag, a new fan and belt and a good cleaning up. Fast forward to 2017 and I am STILL using this machine as my daily driver. I also have my other grandmothers Kirby Dual Sanitronic 80 they bought new in 1967- and had the Kirby factory to a total rebuild on it, still running and looking perfect. Ive used the newer models with transmission, and while they clean just as well, I still prefer the more solid feel of the Heritage I. I personally feel the Heritage/Legend models were really the height of Kirbys quality. I take the Heritage in to my local vac shop every couple of years for a tune up to keep it in peak performing condition and the shop owner lights up everytime I walk in with it. He tells me everytime how he loves that model and what a cleaning “beast” it is and I agree! It has kept my carpets looking new in the 5 years I’ve been in my home that I had built! I have a small dog that sheds incessantly but you can’t tell because my Kirby attacks with a vengeance! I won’t use anything else- I’m a Kirby guy for LIFE!

      1. Hello, I have a Kirby Heritage 2. Bought it over 20 years ago, still runs like a champion. Since my knee surgery it’s a lot harder to use. I find myself going to my light weight bag less Dyson. My only complaint is the Dyson doesn’t have the power my Kirby does. It’s always nice when I can pay a family member to pull out the Kirby & give my carpets a real good cleaning. My husband wants my to sell it,we need the space,know sense for having 2. Not sure how I’d go about selling a vintage vacuum. Any suggestions

  3. We got our new Heritage 11 in around 1968 have had 2 free overhalls, just paid postage we like it mostly for the large dust bag. Agents name was Marilyn Jacobs hard to remember the price I think around $2000 on the second rebuild in 2008 the armature was bad, after each rebuild it looked like new , today I replaced the front armature bearing, maybe overlooked on rebuild,hard to get out.

      1. Chuck ,I made a mistake on the price and date ,Price was $1298.00 bought on May29 1986, we got our first rebuild in 1993 ,we paid $99.00 , on the second rebuild in 2010
        The company did not want to give us the original rebuild price the second time as we bought the extended lifetime warranty ,the rebuild price was suppose to be $99.00 but after some hard barge in the company did oner the rebuild price ,I wonder what they will do if we go back the third time , I did replace a bearing myself ,
        Ed Marvin

  4. I never used one or heard of one but I know I might be getting one! My father needs a good vacuum and the one he had, I can’t remember the make, was a $600 one and he can’t afford that right now. I think I may make this a father’s day gift. Thanks for the review on it!

    1. i found my kirby heritage 84 turbo from a local thrift shop for $40. I grew up with my greatgrandma having the Kirby Classic III. I never not once remember my grandma having any problems with her’s. I’ve always wanted one and saw this one. it came with everything. it is the “Optional”model in the mannual. It does not require any disposible bags. It is a vacuum & carpet washer all in one. it came with all of the attachments. & even came with the original stain remover powder…. never opened. took it to my local kirby dealer to get it serviced. Because it was being pretty loud. After getting it serviced and cleaned out. It is in excellent condition and sounds SOOO! much better. It’s brush roller is a little off. it needs to be replaced. But he said that it wont hurt the kirby it will just make the annoying sound (quiter). I can’t believe i got this much of a steal 🙂

  5. Just running across this post made me super happy.

    As a person who did a stint of selling vacuum cleaners, I found that my time selling Kirby’s for a dealer in Denver, Colorado was well worth it. Yes, they were expensive, but the quality of those machines that I sold back in the 1980’s was tremendous. One week, I sold 3 machines and made enough money that I thought I was rich. It was so much fun demonstrating the many things you could do with a Kirby that you couldn’t do with any other machine.

    I did have one bad experience when I went to vacuum a bed one time. The machine was so powerful, it tore the pad from the mattress frame. The woman was so amazed, she wrote me a check and wanted the Kirby I was using to demonstrate. I guess it wasn’t really a bad experience.

    I then moved on to Rainbow vacuums, and boy, do I have some stories about selling them.

  6. One of the things I find neat about the Kirby vacuums is the cult following. Sure, some people say they are a rip off and way overpriced. But for every person like that, there are lots of happy customers that are extremely loyal to their Kirby vacuum. I find it fascinating.

  7. I’ve had my Heritage 3 for 34 years now – bought it new for 1600 dollars. Do the math? What a great investment for the money

    1. Ellen,

      That’s amazing. I’ve heard lots of similar stories from customers like you who have had their vacuum for at least 25 years and it’s still going strong. To me, that speaks volumes about the Kirby vacuums and company itself. Thanks for the comment.

      Chuck

    2. I absolutely love hearing that too. Yes, that was a lot of money back then, but when a vacuum will last that long, it was worth it. Sure, you can go to Walmart or Costco these days and buy vacuum cleaners for $100, but how long do they last? Some won’t even make it 1 year. Doing the math–$100 each year for 30 years wouyld mean spending $3000. A person is much better off paying the high 1 time price for a machine that will last a lifetime…Maybe 2 lifetimes.

      If you didn’t notice, I am a Kirby fan!

  8. I have 2 kirbys a heritage 84 and a legand 2 with accessories for one there not in working order my question is how much are they worth? And what’s the best place to get them sold?

  9. I have owned several Kirby vacuums since age 9. I have repaired vacuums most of my life as a hobby. I was given a Heritage 1 since 1999. It was passed along to me by a friend who originally purchased it in 1981. I love this machine. It works like it is new. The original headlight shines bright, even today! It has been my favorite over many cleaners I have used before. I have had offers from people. But I simply.will never part with it! I also have a G5 Kirby as well that I found. It was treated rough by whoever owned it. But I brought it back to life. It also shall not be parted with. Built to last, I love these vacuums.

  10. I love the Kirby Heritage Vacuum. I’ve owned a couple in my day and love the quality that they offer. Are they the cheapest things around? Nope. But you can buy with confidence that you are getting something that will last forever. I think it’s important to note that the second Kirby Heritage Vacuum was purchased at a yard sale for $30. I just bought it because it was priced so well, not because my other one wasn’t working good.

  11. I love my Kirby vacuum. My parents gave me theirs when they were done with it. I’ve had mine for just over four years now and want to keep it my entire life. It does such a good job cleaning things up. It’s great quality.

    1. Jud,

      I’m glad you are happy with your Kirby. I know several people who have had theirs for more than 20 years and they swear by it. They are definitely great quality.

      Chuck

  12. I’ll take my old beat up Kirby Heritage vacuum over a Dyson or any other popular brand. I bought mine used at a yard sale for $25 nearly 15 years ago. It still works great. It’s a bit heavy and clunky, but the quality is exceptional.

  13. Here are some things I found out about Kirby and their vacuums.

    “The Kirby Company is a manufacturer of vacuum cleaners and home cleaning accessories, based in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. It is a division of The Scott Fetzer Company (also known as Scott & Fetzer) which in turn is part of Berkshire Hathaway. Dealers are located in over 70 countries throughout the world. Since 1914, Kirby’s products have been sold only door-to-door using in-home demonstrations.[1] The name of the brand is often associated with the naming of Nintendo’s video game character Kirby, who has the ability to suck and blow out objects similar to a vacuum cleaner. Berkshire does not disclose Kirby’s sales numbers, but Gene Windfeldt, the CEO from 1988 to 1997, estimated the vacuum sales at $1.1 billion per year in 1999. About 70% of Kirby’s vacuum sales are financed through distributors. The Kirby Company is a member of the Direct Selling Association.”

    Here is the source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirby_Company

  14. My cousin sold Kirby vacuums for almost a year. He did okay with the company. He ended up buying one of the Heritage vacuums. He absolutely loves this thing. Even though he isn’t selling for Kirby anymore, he still swears by the quality of these vacuums. I’ve even thought about buying one myself.

    Nikki

    1. The Kirby Heritage is a great vacuum, Nikki. If you are thinking about buying one, I would highly suggest you look for a used one on eBay or Craigslist. You should be able to get one for $200 or less. Good luck!

      Chuck

  15. My dad bought a Kirby when I was about five years old. I’m 25 today and he still has the same vacuum. He absolutely loves his Kirby Heritage! I think it’s a bit heavy and big, but it does clean the rugs really, really well.

    Nathan

  16. The Kirby Heritage is completely awesome. I own two of them personally and whenever I am out and about at yard sales or flea markets I always keep my eyes open for them. I fix them up and resell them or resell the parts on eBay. It’s a nice little extra income, plus I enjoy doing it.

    1. Daryl,

      That’s really cool that you can fix them up and resell them for a profit. There is definitely a demand for used parts and used Kirby vacuums. Thanks for the comment.

      Chuck

  17. A Kirby vacuum cleaner was a fixture in my house when I was growing up. I used to hate it because it was so heavy; however, I appreciate its place in history. Kirby is still going strong, with 2012 record earnings of $3.73 per share, which was a 12% increase compared to $3.33 per share for 2011. Not bad for a little vacuum company!

    1. The Kirby vacuums are definitely pretty heavy, but good quality, too. Thanks for sharing the earnings report for 2011 and 2012. That’s pretty impressive.
      Chuck

  18. I bought an old Kirby Hertiage vacuum at a yard sale almost 10 years ago. I paid $25 for it because it wasn’t working. One of the belts needed to be replaced. I had it fixed (cost me $30). Since then it has worked perfectly. It’s the best vacuum I’ve ever owned. If things go well, I should be able to keep this vacuum until I am an old man! It’s just a great, high quality piece of equipment.

    Danny

  19. Hey Chuck,

    I perfectly agree with you that the Heritage vacuum is one of the best vacuums that Kirby offers. Great post.

    Thanks,
    Rachel.

  20. The Kirby Heritage vacuum cleaner is just another great entry in Kirby’s long line of vacuums that actually work. There are so many different brands and names to wade through, many of which don’t give the kind of cleaning you want. Why even take the risk? I don’t have a Heritage vacuum but I do have an older Kirby and I’ve been using it almost 10 years now.

    1. James, the Kirby Heritage Vacuum that I own actually came from my grandmother and I love it. I spent $300 dollars on a named brand fancy vacuum cleaner and it was decent (though not worth the $300 I spent) and I would have to say that the Kirby Vacuum cleaner works 10 times better and I got that for free. I don’t see myself ever getting another vacuum. I can sacrifice “style” and “name brands” for quality any day.

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