Airstreams of History
Take a look at some of the greatest and most famous Silver Bullets ever made. Every Airstream is uniquely impressive in its own way — whether it’s a new model or one of these vintage ones. Here are a few of the most iconic Airstreams ever made, as described by Patrick Foster, author of the new book Airstream: America’s World Traveler.
1. Airstream Quarantine Trailer, 1969
“Moon cooties” — is there really such a thing? When America first landed men on the moon, NASA officials were concerned that might be the case. Although the moon was thought to be an oxygen-free “dead” planet, what if astronauts carried something creepy like moon germs back to Earth? Therefore the American space administration contacted none other than Airstream, and asked them to build a special trailer called the Mobile Quarantine Facility. It was designed with special seals so that the crew could be comfortable and safe during their quarantine upon their return home.
2. Florida’s Airstream Ranch
When Bruce Springsteen first wrote his song Cadillac Ranch, a tribute to the once glorious attraction in Seffner, Florida, do you think the Boss was aware of this place? This iconic tribute to the Silver Bullet once boasted an “8-pack” of gleaming Airstream trailers lined up, nose-down in the ground. Although you may think that you can tell time by the shadows these babies cast, it’s really all about the art.
3. The Grand Daddy Hotel, South Africa
Who’s your daddy? Well in Cape Town, known as the “Mother City” of South Africa, daddy rules! And that’s because one of the coolest attractions there (or perhaps anywhere else for that matter) is known as the Grand Daddy Hotel. You could chill out and brush up on your afrikkans in a standard room, or you could rent one of the rooftop Airstream trailers and party hardy in style! Each one is decorated with it’s own unique theme.
4. Airstream Teardrop Trailer (1930s)
Sometimes you just have to stop and gaze at something that’s not only rare, but extremely awesome. That’s just one word to describe this beauty, a 1930s style Airstream Teardrop trailer. When Wally Byam first began rolling out his inspired travel trailers in the early ‘30s, he was looking to keep them lightweight for easy towing. He also was looking for aerodynamics — hence the “teardrop shape” which would allow them to glide through the air with little wind resistance like a “stream of air,” he claimed.
5. The 1936 Airstream Clipper
From the front, some may think these classics resemble a Trojan mask. When Wally Byam introduced his luxurious new Airstream Clipper in 1936, his philosophy of lightweight design took a tremendous leap forward — it was constructed out of aluminum. As enthusiasts know, this tradition continues to this day. The revolutionary design allowed for a larger unit without becoming too heavy to tow, and the Clipper featured a sleek, aerodynamic shape. It’s reportedly named the Clipper because Mr. Byam thought it looked similar to Pan Am’s “Clipper Flying Boats,” which had been delighting travelers since their introduction in 1931.
6. The Vanderbilt Commodore
Back in the early 1950s, Wally Byam built the closest thing to the “Vanderbilt Mansion on wheels.” Before Mr. Byam started his business as a trailer designer and manufacturer, he worked for a newspaper owned by the publishing magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. They developed a lifelong friendship, and later embarked on may road trips together. Vanderbilt had asked Wally Byam to build him the “ultimate trailer,” an extra-long specimen fitted with every available luxury at the time. Named the ‘Commodore,’ this 33-foot masterpiece was made of fiberglass and included a two-way radio, a bar, a television set, 2 bathrooms and a library. The interior design was created by Charles Criqui, a famed designer of the time.
7. The Airstream Funeral Coach
If you’re looking to “hearse and re-hearse” for your final ride, you may want to look into one of these classics — the Airstream Funeral Coach. When recreational vehicle sales declined in the early 1980s, Airstream management decided to dig deeper for a way of gaining revenue. The Airstream Funeral Coach offered funeral homes a way of incorporating all of their motor needs into one entity. This wonder had a side compartment to carry the coffin, a rear hatch to transport flowers, all while the mourners rode with their loved on in comfort and style.