Company Touts Bowlus Road Chief One Year In

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February 7, 2014 by   5 Comments

It was last year that designer John Long re-launched the Bowlus Road Chief – the rare American travel trailer that started it all more than 80 years ago — and Bowlus Road Chief LLC is touting the resurrected aviation-inspired travel trailer.

According to a press release, the Bowlus Road Chief takes “glamping” to a whole new level and has provided a classic American travel trailer for modern adventurers.

More than just an aerodynamic sleek exterior, the Bowlus Road Chief, according to the company, is “jam packed with ingenious function and tech-savvy features.

“The Road Chief’s streamlined design might be a tribute to yesteryear, but its technology is as advanced as anything out there,” the release stated. “Wireless antennas and power points are cleverly hidden yet easily accessible; as is everything else you need for both work and play.”

The Bowlus has a unique front door design that easily loads big gear like paddleboards, surfboards, kayaks or bicycles, and the cleverly integrated lash points make it a simple matter to secure them for a journey. The Road Chief stores conveniently in a conventional garage, weighing in at just under 2,000 pounds it’s easy to park.

“The Bowlus Road Chief boasts an interior that is as warm as it is clever,” the release stated. “The Zen-like stateroom’s beds easily reconfigures from twins to almost a king. Other highlights include an efficient cook’s kitchen, and an expandable full bathroom complete with shower.”

According to a blog post at, “the original Road Chief dates to the 1930s and was created by Hawley Bowlus, the aviation designer who brought us the Spirit of St. Louis. They’re also crazy expensive because they’re incredibly rare. Just 80 were built before World War II, when the company stopped production.”

Long and Helena Mitchell, a husband-and-wife team of Canadian tech entrepreneurs, bought the rights and patents and launched the update of the 1935 Vintage Bowlus Travel Trailer, according to Wired.

The whole thing stands almost 8-feet tall, is 23 1/2 feet long, and retails for around $100,000, but the price tag includes having your trailer’s name etched in the wheel skirts.

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5 Responses to “Company Touts Bowlus Road Chief One Year In”

  1. Vernon Rice on February 7th, 2014 2:08 pm

    I am sorry to have to say this, but with almost 50 years in the RV industry, I think you are honestly looking at an absolute maximum $40,000.00 trailer. They just want to charge the other $60,000.00 for the name on the fender skirts. Hand built or not, it is not worth $100,000.00 except maybe to an elitist. Just my informed opinion.

  2. John Green on February 7th, 2014 6:13 pm

    I’m unsure about Vernon Rice’s comment about RV pricing and their marketability. I just read that Airstream, Inc. announced yesterday that they had a 53% increase in sales during 2013 and are busier now than anytime since the 1970’s. Vernon should take a look at the Airstream MSRP’s as there are very few under $40K. Someone must be buying them. The Bowlus is clearly for a niche market, not the mass market and his production plan is not ambitious but I’ll bet he can sell all that he builds, even if the price is $100K.

  3. Darryl Searer on February 7th, 2014 11:46 pm

    The museum at the Hall of Fame has a 1935 original Bowlus trailer in perfect shape.

  4. Vernon Rice on February 9th, 2014 4:04 am

    In my many, many years in the business, I worked at Airstream Corp. I know how they are made, and I know how much they actually cost and I know how much they retail they retail for. Like the trailer being shown in this article, Airstreams are over priced as far as I am concerned.
    Also as an example, if I was a Mfg. of Rv’s and I built one (1) trailer this year and the next year I built three (3), just look at the % increase. You will notice that Airstream will never tell you how many trailers that they actually produced. They also lumped into their count, their Class “B” motorhome that they build.
    The average RV buyer does not normally buy an Airstream, it is usually purchased by a more affluent buyer. It was for years and still is considered more of a status symbol than just a camper. There was a time that they were lighter weight and more aerodynamic, but today they have little advantage in those areas over a lot of the more traditional style RV’s.

    Darryl, a comment now for you. I have been to the museum many times and I am a member of it and I am even listed in it and my name appears inside the that fine institution. I have donated items to it. If anyone is remotely close to Elkhart, Indiana I hope they stop and enjoy some of the history of this industry, called the RV industry, because if you are an owner and a camper, you are a part of it.

  5. Geoff Grenert on September 7th, 2016 10:21 am

    We are on our third Airstream in the past 5 years. Started out with a 19′ Bambi (too small for us (me actually), then a 25′ Front bedroom, liked it, but then the 28′ International Signature came out in 2012 and we had to have it.

    We’ve been to Oregon from Florida and are just returning from 2 months in the Canadian Maritimes. We pull with an F-150 and we often forget that we have a trailer behind us.

    Aesthetically, it is a thing of beauty. All aluminum inside and out, modern conveniences, roomy and enough space inside for dinner for 7 along with 9 bottles of wine.

    If we add solar panels and a 3000 watt generator, we will still be way under $100,000 and have lots more space that the Bowlus (which is a beauty by any standard) but not worth over $200,000. Not even $100K.

    And Airstreams are (like the Harley Davidson motorcycles) beautiful and Iconic.