12 Interesting Facts about Airstream Caravans!

Iconic Airstream Caravan at Brisbane Holiday Village

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2021 marks the 90th anniversary of the iconic Airstream caravan. The past nine decades have been filled with unbelievable tales and adventures. From American presidents to space exploration, these stylish silver bullets are steeped in history.

Here are some interesting facts about the Airstream that may surprise you! Tweet

"Happy wife, Happy Life"

It appears that Wally Byam, the creator of the iconic Airstream, lived by the phrase ‘happy wife, happy life’, as it was his wife, Marion, that sparked the creation of the first Airstream travel trailer. While Wally and Marion shared a love of camping, Marion didn't like sleeping on the ground and refused to camp without a kitchen. As it turns out, many others agreed with her and the airstream revolution began!

Built to last?

In the 1930s, when Airstream was in its early days, there were about 48 other trailer companies competing in the market. Within 5 years, there were over 400! Of those companies, Airstream is the only one that remains today. Airstream survived World War II, economic recessions, the Great Depression, global crisis and more.

Built to last? We think so!

The bomb diggity

There isn't much that can survive an atomic bomb, however, the trusted American icon can!

In May 1955, as part of a Federal Civil Defense Administration study, an Airstream caravan was delivered to the Nevada desert, along with several other brands of caravans, to participate in an atomic bomb test. The test was performed on a mock neighbourhood setup.

The result? The silver fox was virtually unphased by the blast and was the only trailer that was declared still roadworthy!

Lighter than air

In 1947, the famous French cyclist Alfred Letourneur was invited to visit the Airstream factory and tow the travel trailer with a bike to demonstrate its lightweight nature. This spectacular marketing move resulted in the picture, captured by Airstream founder Wally Byam himself, being used as the famous Airstream logo.

Out of this world

In the late 1960s, NASA used the Airstream as a mobile quarantine center for the crew of Apollo 11 when returning from the moon. President Nixon even interviewed the astronauts while they were inside the revolutionary trailer.

Later on, in the 1980s, Airstream once again found its place in the space race when a modified Airstream Motorhome, nicknamed the "Astrovan" was selected to transport Shuttle Era astronauts out to the launch pad.

Art-stream?

Frank Bates, an RV dealership owner with a questionable artistic vision, utilised the full extent of his land by burying eight vintage Airstreams nose deep in the ground near Dover, Florida.

Affectionately known as the "Airstream Ranch", this homage/eyesore/art installation (depending on your perspective) was almost sent to the junk pile after local businesses complained that it was a visual nuisance, causing traffic jams and accidents as people slowed to look.

Despite the complaints from local businesses, ten thousand people signed a petition and successfully fought to save the "art" in 2012. A judge declared the grouping to be officially "not junk, a sign or illegal storage of the trailers". The Airstream Ranch lived on until Bates ultimately sold his land in 2017.

The new owners quickly swapped the old Airstreams for a suave 17,000-square-foot Airstream showroom - an arguably better (although less iconic) tribute to the travel trailer.

Neither silver or bullet shaped

While the iconic Airstream is often referred to as the “Silver Bullet”, the early Airstream Silver Cloud model was neither silver, nor bullet shaped. The early Airstream models were actually made of Masonite (a type of hardboard made of pressed-wood fibres) with a wooden frame. They were also teardrop shaped and two-toned in colour!

The look of the iconic Airstream trailer was inspired by the "Streamline Moderne" design aesthetic. While this stripped-down design variant of the Art Deco movement did influence function, “streamlining” eventually evolved into its own design trend that suggested forward movement and speed with a futuristic appeal.

This trend was extremely popular in the 1930s and 40s and was applied to stationary objects such as toasters, staplers and alarm clocks among many other things. Oddly enough, the look has endured the ages and has retained its appeal and futuristic feel.

F.A.M.O.U.S

From the very beginning, Airstream has been a popular choice among celebrities. In the 1930s, owners included film stars such as Tom Mix and Barbara Stanwyck. Today, celebrity owners include Mark Harmon, Matthew McConaughey, Sean Penn, Miranda Lambert, Patrick Dempsey, HGTV’s Ben and Erin Napier, and more.

Presidential suite

First Lady Laura Bush, Presidents Dick Cheney, and Joe Biden used Airstreams during their service. Even John F. Kennedy had an Airstream that he used as a mobile office when on the road to see the latest weaponry in New Mexico.  

All that glitters

It’s hard to imagine the Airstream as any other colour than silver, yet Wally was under a lot of pressure to create coloured trailers. After creating a gold Airstream for himself, he realised that the traditional aluminium was the only way forward.

A rose by any other name...

Silver Bullet, Silver Burrito, Silver Twinkie; Canned ham, Toaster-on-Wheels.. the list goes on! There are many nicknames for the iconic Airstream caravan and most are usually a play on the shape or colour.

The Airstream initially had squared off ends and resembled a loaf of bread, hence the witty nickname of “Toaster on Wheels”. As time went on and design evolved, the iconic bullet shape design was implemented in the late 1960s following a major revamp after Wally Byam’s death.

Interestingly, there was a dedicated square Airstream! The Squarestream (original, right?) closely resembled the familiar boxy blueprint of non-Airstream RVs, but die-hard Airstream fans were not amused. At the time, the “Squarestream” was banned from the Wally Byam Caravan Club (a decision that has since been reversed) and the company’s decision to produce them was compared to the “New Coke” debacle of the 1980s.

Airstream Hotels

The iconic Airstream caravan has a cult following all over the world, known as the ‘Airstreamers.’ They happily travel all over the world to experience different Airstream experiences! With that in mind, there are actually a few Airstream Hotels around the world!

Brisbane Holiday Village

Of course, no list of Airstream Hotels would be complete without the newest player in the game - our very own Brisbane Holiday Village, located in Brisbane, Queensland, offering luxury Airstream Glamping experiences in 2 fully customised 27 foot Airstream Caravans!

Learn about Brisbane's Airstream Caravans

Affectionately known as Betsy and Maisie, our iconic 27 foot Airstream Caravans offer guests a unique holiday experience with a touch of luxury! Sleeping up to 2 adults and 2 kids with a queen bed and king single child’s bed (another single bed can be formed in the lounge area), each Airstream offers air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen, private open-air living and dining area with a 75 inch LED smart TV and a private ensuite bathroom (there is also a toilet inside the Airstream).
Learn More & Book

That’s all our interesting Airstream facts for today. There are plenty more out there, so feel free to leave us a comment if you know of any more!

If you would like the experience the aluminium glory of an iconic Airstream Caravan, don’t forget that Brisbane Holiday Village offers luxury Airstream Glamping, with private open-air living, dining areas, personal ensuite and a BBQ area.

Book now before your plans are… foiled…

Thanks for reading!

- The BHV Team

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