Auto shows are mostly about what’s new and hot. But a small oasis in the sprawling 2011 Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place is reserved for true connoisseurs of the iconic.
Yes, we’re talking about the instantly recognizable Airstream recreational trailer, encased in the same gently rounded, airplane-grade aluminum frame that has been the travel trailer brand’s hallmark since the first one was built in California some 78 years ago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported
Airstream founder Wally Byam’s motto was “Let’s not make changes, let’s make only improvements.” Most of the improvements over nearly eight decades have come on the inside of the trailers, where, amazingly, almost all of the modern conveniences of today’s home are found in a very compact space.
Take the classic Airstream Flying Cloud, built to be pulled by a mid-sized or larger sports utility vehicle or truck. The 25-foot-long Flying Cloud sleeps six, comes with stove, sink, microwave, coffee maker, a full bathroom, walk-in shower, flat-screen TV and we could go on. But you get the idea. The Flying Cloud lists for $56,900, according to John Dresselhaus of Airstream of Chicago in Joliet, a principal dealer for the trailers in the Chicago area.
A smaller version of the Flying Cloud, called, cutely enough, the Bambi, is pegged to appeal to travel trailer renters, who might want one just to pop out of the city for a weekend at the Wisconsin Dells, or maybe to take in the Kentucky Derby. Even though it has a smaller footprint, the Bambi comes with almost all the conveniences found in the Flying Cloud — just packed even more tightly inside.
With the economy rebounding, Dresselhaus said sales have begun to pick up for Airstream trailers. Sales at Airstream of Chicago were up 40% in 2010 over the previous year, and Dresselhaus anticipates a similar upswing in 2011.
Over time, Airstream trailers have proved to be remarkably sturdy and a good investment. About 68% of all Airstreams ever made are still on the road, and according to Dresselhaus, owners who can bear to part with their travel trailer can trade it in after 10 years and get back a large chunk of their initial outlay.
Airstream’s marketing is pitched toward those who like adventure — “restless spirits,” as the slick brochures put it. But there’s another important reason Airstreams are selling well. “People get to sleep in their own bed when they travel,” said Dresselhaus. Sweet.
Click here to see photos from the dealership’s display at the Chicago Boat and RV Show, held earlier this year.