Photo by Jack Guy
The Silver Bullet of travel trailers still holds its panache with deluxe designs and over-the-top restorations.
Airstream’s polished-aluminum travel trailer is about as iconic as apple pie. The airplane-inspired coach began its journey in the early 1930s, when Stanford graduate Wally Byam came up with the idea of creating a trailer for camping in comfort with his wife. Not long after, he opened his first Airstream factory.
In an era where “tiny-house living” has become a movement, the Airstream’s popularity has grown by leaps and bounds.
Often referred to as the Silver Bullet, the sausage-shaped Airstream has only gained admirers throughout the decades, and today it is considered the Cadillac of recreational vehicles. In an era where “tiny-house living” has become a movement, the Airstream’s popularity has grown by leaps and bounds. From newly built, custom-designed vehicles to renovated-to-the-hilt, older models, Airstreams are reaching a new high in style, innovation and sheer fun.
Timeless Travel Trailers, a Colorado-based firm, recently restored a rare Western Pacific Airstream that serves as a vacation residence for its owner. Updated with Mid-century modern flair, it features an aluminum interior, wide-plank bamboo flooring, walnut veneer cabinetry and large horizontal windows for unobstructed views.
For another client, the company revamped a 1953 Airstream Flying Cloud with such high-end amenities as a hammered-copper farmhouse sink, alder cabinetry and built-ins, cedar-lined wardrobe and copper-plated hardware and accessories throughout.
“We’re seeing a high demand for an open floor plan, while creating functional storage space throughout the unit,” says Nicole Aulik, a business development consultant at Timeless Travel Trailers. “Solar and smart technology are also high on customers’ wish lists.”
Tommy Bahama has also gotten into the game. The Airstream Tommy Bahama Relax Edition Travel Trailer is designed in warm woods and green earth tones, with tropical bedding and ocean-blue towels adding splashes of color. State-of-the-art kitchen appliances, woven flooring just like what you would find on a yacht and a built-in bar with a top that lights up are all part of the package. The Airstream even comes with its own accessories kit for the ultimate in beach parties. It includes lounge chairs, a cooler, glasses, bottle openers, whiskey stones and candles.
And not too long ago, Airstream introduced The Nest—a compact, luxury trailer with a contemporary look. Constructed from fiberglass, the 112-square-foot vehicle is big enough to accommodate a queen-size bed, a bathroom with a shower and toilet, a kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave and propane range. Better yet, it’s light enough to be towed by a large SUV.
While most people think of Airstreams as miniature travel homes, many are being retrofitted or built with other options in mind. Ultimate Airstreams offers several entertaining designs that might make you rethink your next glamping option or client event.
The Sophia I—a wine tasting lounge—is a sophisticated ensemble of leather lounge seating, under-lit translucent Brazilian granite countertops, custom oak cabinetry, a handcrafted oak barrel ceiling, dual-zone wine coolers and wine display cabinets. Another swanky unit, the Sophia II, includes dual TV monitors, making it ideal for work-related presentations.
For those who like to work on the go, Ultimate Airstreams offers the Hybrid Mobile Office. “The 30-foot-long office on wheels provides the freedom to work from home in various environments,” says Ian Harnish, director of sales.
“Perhaps a photographer or writer simply wants a change of scenery or is traveling,” he says. “They can take their office with them. Or, the home builder who requires a mobile sales office at a certain community they are selling can move to their next location when sales are complete. It provides freedom to move your office wherever work takes you.”
Other custom Airstream designs that have been executed include everything from guest lodging, tailgating setups and a tailoring studio to a hunting lodge, mobile hair salon and a bar on wheels. Private owners, too, love bringing character to their revamped trailers with design themes ranging from Route 66, Retro, Bohemian and even a Fender guitar-themed Airstream.
For those who don’t want to purchase a travel trailer but love the idea of staying in one, there are several companies that offer them as lodging.
California-based AutoCamp offers luxurious, modern Airstream accommodations for rent in Santa Barbara, Russian River and Yosemite. “AutoCamp is not only luxury camping, but a great way to experience environmentally-sustainable, small-space design,” say the owners. Amenities include pillow-top mattresses, down comforters, spa bathrobes, boutique bath products, an electric barbecue and a pair of beach cruisers (helmets included).
Almost 100 years since it all began, I have to think that Wally Byam would be proud of his legacy!