The Burma Shave signs are long gone and Route 66 exists in name only but this summer travelers can hit the road in a rig that truly recalls the glory days of the Great American Road Trip, according to a report by NBC News.
Launched earlier this month, Airstream2Go.com offers the first-ever rentals of the distinctive “silver bullets” that have been icons of the highway for more than 80 years.
“Everybody recognizes them,” said Al Hesselbart, historian at the Recreational Vehicle Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Ind. “If it’s a bright aluminum trailer with rounded curves, it’s got to be an Airstream.”
That shape owes its existence to Hawley Bowlus, a glider builder and designer who conceived it in the early 1930s after helping build the Spirit of St. Louis for Charles Lindbergh. Unfortunately for Bowlus, he was a better engineer than a businessman and the company struggled until master promoter Wally Byam took over, renamed it Airstream and launched a sales and marketing machine that capitalized on the trailer’s unique shape and then-futuristic styling.
“For many years, it had kind of a snob appeal,” said Hesselbart. It was, ‘I’ve got one and you don’t.’”
Enter Dicky Riegel, who founded Airstream 2 Go after serving as president of Airstream and group president of its parent company, Thor Industries Inc. With new models costing $30,000 to $100,000, he saw a gap in a business model in which the rigs were available for sale but not for rental.
“I was with Airstream for 15 years and there wasn’t a day that went by that someone didn’t ask, ‘How do I rent one?’” he told NBC News. “The answer to that question was always, ‘Well, I’m sorry but you can’t.’”
Until now, that is. Currently, Airstream 2 Go is renting 23- and 28-foot Airstreams from two locations: Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Trailers are paired with a GMC Yukon Denali truck with rates starting at $3,850 for a self-guided “Take It & Go” 5-day rental.
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