Airstream Media Release 2012
Since 1931 Airstream polished aluminium travel trailers have graced the roads of the world. Collected by Hollywood stars, travelled in by Presidents and dignitaries, obsessed over by owners and those who hope to be, these magnificent hand-crafted Airstreams are now available in Australia for adventurous souls with an eye for style.
Bob Wheeler, President of Airstream USA, joined Alan Imrie and Alison Miers, Directors of Australian company A & A Industries, exclusive distributors of Airstream in Australia, to announce the availability of Airstream for the Australian market.
Airstream Australia launch in Sydney on 4 Sept 2012
Initially two models will be available in Australia, the 624 and 762 International Series, factory modified and assembled to meet Australian compliance requirements including 240 volt wiring, Australian electrical switches, conversion for right hand drive vehicle towing and towing hitch. Interior fit-outs include premium brand appliances, a selection of flexible floor plans, fabrics and colour schemes providing for individual taste. Individual customised interiors can be produced to special order at additional cost.
Airstreams are known for superior structural integrity: their semi-monocoque construction weds inner and outer aluminum layers to an integrated aluminum frame. After 80 years of production, the Airstream concept is still relevant today, lowering fuel and horsepower needs.
Built in Ohio, USA, this latest fleet of Airstream Travel Trailers continues the tradition of extraordinary design and hand-crafted quality that has made Airstream world famous, featuring the latest design technology and conveniences in a way that is distinctly Airstream.
Pricing in Australia for the 624 commences from A$115,000 depending on specification and interior finish and the 762 from A$135,000.
We are starting modestly but rumours of our arrival are out already and we have received a number of expressions of interest from individuals, as well as companies interested in purchasing an Airstream to use for promotions or a stand-out mobile office.
Alan Imrie, Managing Director of A&A Industries, summarised the launch saying “We anticipate interest in Australia from a buying public looking for something different, a readily identifiable lifestyle statement and something that I think will really appeal to the outdoors nature of Australians. A balance of art and practicality; classic aircraft styling combined with modern safety, durability and functionality.”
The Founder of Airstream, Wally Byam, had a dream to create lightweight travel trailers that slipped cleanly through the wind. And with it was born another dream, one of new freedoms, new places, new experiences, and new friendships. It was a dream so powerful and so enduring that it did far more than create a new way to travel; it created a new way of life shared by thousands upon thousands of families.
In 1929, Wally Byam purchased a Model T Ford chassis, built a platform on it, towed it with his car to a campsite, and painstakingly erected a tent on it. The effort was tiresome and unpleasant, especially when it rained. Spurred on by his first wife Marion, Wally built a tear-drop-shaped permanent shelter on the platform that enclosed a small ice chest and kerosene stove. He then published an article that ran under the headline, “How to Build a Trailer for One Hundred Dollars.” Readers wrote to Wally for more detailed instruction plans, which he sold at a cost of one dollar each.
The response was extraordinary, earning him more than $15,000. After building several trailers for friends in his backyard, “the neighbours started complaining that I was making too much noise,” Wally observed, “so I went out and rented a building.” Airstream Trailer Company went into full production in 1932, when fewer than 48 trailer manufacturers were registered for business. Five years later, nearly 400 companies squared off against each other. Today, of those 400, only Airstream remains.
Let’s only make improvements
Anecdotes are legion about Wally’s passion for product innovation. “Let’s not make changes, let’s make only improvements,” was his familiar refrain. In quest of these, Wally scoured the world looking for efficient hot water heaters, door hinges, butane lamps, chemical toilets, small porcelain sinks and chairs — myriad large and small items that would make an Airstream more functional and liveable. In Europe he discovered a heating system that took up little space but gave off plenty of radiant heat. He borrowed the design, improved it, and renamed it the Byam Burner.
In France he spied a compact gas refrigerator manufactured by Dometic. He arranged for the refrigerators to be installed in Airstreams, making an end to ice-electric refrigerators that required travellers to be constantly on the prowl for ice. More than 50 years later, Dometic still supplies refrigerators to Airstream.
When nothing suitable was available on the world market, Wally urged someone to manufacture it. In 1954 he persuaded Max Bowen, president of Bowen Water Heater Co., to develop the first workable hot water system for a trailer. Other innovations were brought directly to him by customers. Frank Sargent, an engineer, approached Wally in 1960 with a novel toilet valve that used steam pressure for flushing waste into a holding tank. Sargent’s Thetford toilets have been used in Airstream models since the 1961 model year. Wally tallied several inventions of his own, including the idea of a flat-sided underbelly to reduce wind resistance, and an 18 x 40 inch escape window in the back of the trailer in case the side door was jammed.
Quality, innovation, and design
The list of “firsts” in the trailer industry attributed to Airstream is a long one, including the first holding tank, the first ladder frame, the first pressurized water system, and the first fully self-contained travel trailer — the 1957 Airstream International. “Self-containment” was a term Wally had coined to describe full freedom from external trailer hook-ups, such as outside sources of power. He once said he wanted to build a trailer that “my lovely old grandmother might tow … to the middle of the Gobi Desert, there to live in gracious metropolitan luxury … without reloading, refuelling, recharging or regretting.”
Nearly 80 years after its backyard beginnings, Airstream maintains an unwavering commitment to the tenets upon which it was founded: Quality, Innovation, and Design.
A who’s who and what’s what
Overseas celebrity owners of Airstream include Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Matthew McConaughey, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Lenny Kravitz and Sandra Bullock while in Europe Today Celebrity occupants include George Michael, Hugh Grant and Gerri Halliwell.
The most recognised aluminium travel trailer in the world has featured in numerous movies and television shows including NBC’s Grey’s Anatomy and CSI LA. In season three of The Apprentice, Donald Trump challenged contestants to create mobile business ventures using Airstreams. They have appeared in numerous films including Charlie’s Angels, Independence Day and Wall Street II.
For many years a customised Airstream was prominently displayed at MTV’s headquarters in Santa Monica, California and a 1960 Airstream Bambi is part of a permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art for excellence in style and design.
In 1969, Neil Armstrong and members of Apollo 11 were quarantined for three weeks in a specially built Airstream after returning from the first voyage to the moon.
Several specially built Airstreams are commonly used to transport American officials around the world. Strapped down inside military cargo planes Airstreams have transported Vice Presidents, First Ladies, Generals and Admirals in comfort. First Lady Laura Bush travelled cocooned inside her personal Airstream which had been installed inside the transport aircraft when visiting the troops in Afghanistan in 2008.