So where did this love of Airstreams all start?
A bit hard to know really – I have vague recollections of seeing photos of these shining beauties in travel magazines when I was a child (a lot more exciting than the white caravan my parents has at the time!), and I do love camping, but never really imagined me ever having one, as apart from anything else, how the heck would you get it to the UK?
And another problem, in my humble opinion, like many American car makers, with the arrival of plastics in the late 60s and 70s, Airstream rather lost their way, abandoning traditional carpentry and metalworking techniques for moulded cabinets and pre-formed shells. A bit like the avocado bath suites of the 70s, which seemed appropriate at the time, but now just seem WRONG!
So didn’t really think much more about it until I saw this:-
Where I saw it, I really don’t know, but I just thought, wow that’s cool!! And so the dreaming began….
The first, and to date unsurmountable barrier, was that my wife HATED the look of it, particularly those ‘Alien’ eyes which I absolutely love! There were however also some more practical issues to consider which made it all a bit scary to contemplate ‘for the first time’. Principal of these was the fact that the Clipper was built before the ladder chassis had been invented, so the ‘chassis’ is essentially just a big long pipe to which out-riggers are attached to support the floor and body shell. A long pipe that is around 50 years old, and was originally designed to be towed at around 25 mph rather than 50-60 mph….hmmm…
By this time though, I’d been bitten by the bug, so the search began in earnest for an alternative – slightly younger so that it had a ‘proper’ chassis, but old enough to have the flat panels and all the rivets, and a similar size so that it wasn’t a pain to tow. And while we’re at it, one that’s empty inside so that we can kit it out just how we want.
Which brought us to a mid-50s Airstream Safari, which seemed to tick all the boxes, and after a few months, we found one at a dealer in Indiana:-
So very soon, we owned this very old trailer in the middle of nowhere in the States, and had to work out quite how we might get it home! There then followed a somewhat tortuous trip – up to Helena, Ohio for a polish at renowned polishing experts PandS Trailers, then over to Baltimore for the ferry to Southampton, from there to Vintage Airstreams in The Cotswolds for a new axle and chassis repairs, and finally to ARC Airstreams in Taunton for the electrics, water, gas, underfloor heating, galley and washroom. Then finally (stresses the word finally!), we cut, moulded, laminated the lightweight plywood and in went the seating, followed some time later by the blinds.
Which is pretty much where we are now – at home, with a few festivals under our belts, and all ready for more in 2016!