Known for its iconic monocoque, riveted aluminum travel trailer, Airstream ventured into new territory four decades ago, With the debut of the Argosy Motorhome in 1974, Airstream entered the unfamiliar world of steering wheels and engines. Ultimately, the company would become a leader in motorized recreational vehicles. With an ever-growing field of manufacturers building motorhomes today, Airstream has leaned heavily into its legacy and long history of producing excellence to find distinction in a crowded field. It’s a fascinating history, filled with curious twists and turns as Airstream applied its iconic aesthetic to the world of motorized recreational vehicles.
Almost 90 years after the birth of the company, the pursuit of excellence – in founder Wally Byam’s words, a goal to “not make changes, only improvements” – remains alive and well within the touring coach line on the Airstream campus. Housed just to the south of the current Airstream travel trailer plant, the motorized plant has the task of remaining fully Airstream (rivets and all) while often looking much different than the silver-bullets that consumers might more rapidly recognize. All of the care, all of the attention to detail, all of the craftsmanship that is generously poured into each travel trailer is equally expended on the motorized units. Hundreds of hands touch each unit during manufacturing before they roll off the line and head to an Airstream dealer lot – and eventually to the home of a satisfied owner.
From the first step in 1974, the motorized history of Airstream has been rich with innovation and exploration. From the utilitarian A-Van all the way to the plush A-Class Airstream Motorhome, Airstream’s motorized units have employed the same marriage of form and function. The storied history has meaningful and interesting turns like the Astrovan (used by NASA to transport astronauts to the Space Shuttle), to the Airstream Funeral Coach (which allowed a family to travel with the casket to the burial site). The same Airstream spirit that pushed the envelope of invention and discovery in Wally Byam’s era is alive and well today with Airstream Touring Coaches.
For more than half of Airstream’s existence, Touring Coaches have been part of the silver bullet family. Today, you will find them at WBCCI (Wally Byam Caravan Club International) rallies the world-over, parked alongside the travel trailers whose shells are squarely ingrained in Americana culture. Their owners swap and enjoy tales of adventure with their compadres. You’ve probably passed by them on your own travels, traveling down highways and byways across North-America. They’re easily recognized by the overwhelming look of wonder and joy on the driver’s face, not to mention the Airstream logo tucked neatly on the exterior. The Airstream Touring Coaches have a way of standing out, something not unfamiliar to the Airstream family.
The Astrovan, a modified Airstream Excella Motorhome, was used by NASA to transport Astronauts to the launch pad from 1983 until the program was discontinued in 2011. Today, you can see the Astrovan on display at the Kennedy Space Center located on Merritt Island in Florida.
Today, Airstream Touring Coaches are built on the all-new, redesigned Mercedes-Benz® chassis, and feature the same quality and luxury that has made them industry forerunners. Forty-five years after the first motorized unit drove off the line in Jackson Center, OH, Airstream Touring Coaches are still leading the way.
The brand-new Airstream Atlas is one of the most sought-after Class B+ Touring Coaches on the market, and just a few years ago the Airstream Interstate grew to capturing 20 percent of the Class B market. The new standard of safety and luxury, Airstream Touring Coaches are the perfect answer for those who want to share in the history and legacy of Airstream, while also enjoying the precision of the German-engineered Mercedes-Benz® chassis. Whether the desire is to explore this great land or to travel from Point A to Point B in comfort and class, the Airstream Touring Coach line is the perfect answer – and has been for many, many years.
Looking into Airstream’s famed history, one cannot overlook the indelible mark that the Touring Coach line has left on the landscape of recreational vehicles. From Wally’s first venture putting a tent on top of a Ford Model T chassis, to the sleek and luxurious Airstream Touring Coach line releasing this year, one cannot deny that steering wheels and engines are fully embedded in the very fabric of Airstream.
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