THE ICONIC SILVER AIRSTREAM TRAILER IS A SYMBOL OF FREEDOM AND ADVENTURE THAT FOR YEARS HAS HAD TRAVELLERS DROOLING THE WORLD OVER. WE TAKE A PEEK INSIDE THE ASTONISHING CULT OF THE CAMPER THAT NEVER SEEMS TO AGE.
BY JOHANNE MERCIER WITH THE COLLABORATION OF RICHARD PETIT
What do the film Bagdad Café, pop star Céline Dion and the Apollo space program have in common? All three have been smitten by the charms of the Airstream. The one parked by the famous cafe on the even more famous Route 66 evokes the ultimate road trip of the American dream. Céline Dion’s team chose to shoot her video Tout l’or des hommes partly in an Airstream, where she’s seen travelling and creating with Jean-Jacques Goldman and her musicians.
But the most famous visual has to be that of three Apollo 11 astronauts, who, after returning from the moon in 1969, spent 21 days in quarantine inside an Airstream trailer specially modified by NASA for their needs. Wally Byam certainly had no idea what was to come when he began fooling around in his yard, building campers back in the early 1930s. An engineer and camping enthusiast, Byam was just trying to design a light, aerodynamic trailer that would make travelling more pleasant for his wife. Something with a little style, too! Airstream launched its first trailer, the Clipper, in 1936. Although the $1,200 price tag seemed like highway robbery at the time, the Clipper was an instant hit. Airstream sales took off during the post-war boom of the 1950s. With its rounded Art Deco-style lines and customized interiors, it wasn’t long before the Airstream had become one of the most powerful symbols in America. To promote their little marvel, Wally Byam and his wife set out on a trip around the world. They saw it as the ultimate road test, which would help them build the toughest, most reliable trailer on the market. Indeed, Airstreams are known for their longevity: 70% of all Airstream trailers built since the 1930s are still on the road!
TO OWN AN AIRSTREAM IS TO EMBRACE A DIFFERENT KIND OF LIFESTYLE, TAKING OFF ON ADVENTURES AND SEEKING OUT UNUSUAL EXPERIENCES.
To own an Airstream is to embrace a different kind of lifestyle, taking off on adventures and seeking out unusual experiences. There is quite a sizable community of Airstream owners worldwide, and you’ll often see them travelling in groups. Excursions, gatherings, reunions, information exchanges…Airstreamers have a strong sense of belonging that goes far beyond that of the average RV club. No wonder: as a revolutionary concept with a unique look that’s at once vintage and contemporary, the Airstream made a visionary of its founder and turned its fans into folks who reinvent their lives, wherever silver wheels take them.
“An Airstream makes you dream and gives you a sense of freedom,” says Matthew Hofmann, an architect based in Santa Barbara, California, who creates custom designs for Airstream owners. He founded his company in 2010, after he had moved into his own trailer because he couldn’t afford to buy a house in the upscale enclave town. Living in a renovated Airstream meant he didn’t have to sacrifice his quality of life. Now, his passion is his business, and he creates interiors that are as magnificent as they are unique. Hofmann even played a part in designing Auto Camp, an urban Airstream getaway in Santa Barbara. It’s an original and delightful concept: guests stay in comfy, well-equipped Airstream campers set among the trees, not far from the beach. And there you have it! New lifestyles have given new life to the classic Airstream, turning the shiny trailer into a mobile shop or office, sport equipment van, guest house, or whatever you might think of next.
AN AIRSTREAM FOR YOUR COMPANY
Nomad Airstream is a Quebec firm that specializes in converting Airstreams for commercial use as food trucks, mobile stores, hair salons, bars, promotional vehicles, etc. After pinpointing your needs, Nomad will choose the Airstream that’s just right, and design a 3D model of the interior, before proceeding with detailed plans for final approval. Then, a team of aerospace engineers and specialized designers will turn your dream into a trailer guaranteed to boost your brand.