Luxury Motorcycle TransportationThough often used, the word "icon" never loses its luster. Similarly, the Airstream travel trailer, whose unique aluminum shape has remained virtually unchanged in 70 years shines as an icon worthy of the name.
This silver spirit shares its conception with Charles Lindbergh’s famous flying machine, Spirit of St. Louis, thanks to Hawley Bowlus, chief designer of that pioneering aircraft, and contributor to the creative process that spawned the Airstream. In its simplicity, it is as perfect a form-follows-function as can be imagined. The smooth-skinned, rivet-punctuated sausage shape has become adored by design fetishists around the globe. The company itself, founded some 75 years ago in California by lawyer and do-it-yourself magazine publisher Wally Byam, is the oldest in the recreational vehicle industry. Its 400 employees carry on the legacy in 1952, appropriately enough, in the aero-centric state of Ohio. Airstreamers, as the community of owners refer to themselves, are as committed to sharing their love for these trailers as motorcyclists are for their chosen rides. In the early ’50s, Byam led groups of Airstreamers on jaunts around the world to meet each other. Images of the sleek silver trailers at famous tourist sites added to their growing mystique. The aura of exclusivity was augmented by the emergence of some dozen Airstream Parks across the United States, where owners can rent, lease, or buy a site.The use of an Airstream by the Apollo moonwalkers upon their return is but one of many instances that advocates cite as proof of pedigree. CEO Bob Wheeler points out that owners often personalize their Airstreams. "In the 1950s and ’60s, the Airstreams became a metaphor for freedom," he says. "There’s an intangible pull, and an aspirational element to the product, and everybody’s got their own story about traveling with their trailer. We have found that with the resurgence in brands that are authentic, and the desire for a hand-crafted vehicle that certainly isn’t cheap, we’re able to continue to build on our foundation and history." Wheeler emphasizes that while the firm has been steadfast in safeguarding the classic qualities, it embraces the waves of fashion that inspire owners and designers to extrapolate upon the original. The recent collaboration with style mavens Design Within Reach, who commissioned architect and long-time Airstream design partner Chris Deam, produced a 16.6-foot version that sleeps four, with the intent of appealing to the young and affluent. Wheeler is also proud of the fact that the Airstream trailer has earned the endorsement of celebrity owners, including Matthew McConaughey and Tom Hanks.Wheeler is equally forthcoming about his own enthusiasm for the two-wheel lifestyle, and the presence of motorcyclists in key positions inside the firm. So, it was natural that an Airstream would be developed specifically for the traveling motorcyclist. The new PanAmerica was "designed for the adventurer that wants to explore every mountain road and open high-way," as Airstream puts it. The 34-footer embodies the silver spirit of Byam. With a capacity for two motorcycles and related gear weighing up to 2,500 lbs, the rear 11 feet of the trailer is configured as a garage; that section bows to practical considerations with a durable aluminum interior skin and textured floor that is no less stylish. Features include storage cabinets, tabletop work areas, tie-downs, electrical outlets for power, and speakers for the sound system. The system itself makes no compromises, so you can enjoy your favorite melodies with faithful clarity at the volume of your choice, whether you favor Rameau, 50 Cent, Lucinda Williams, or The Detroit Cobras. The tail incorporates a gull-wing exterior door and fold-down ramp, plus a pass-through door in the bulkhead with a porthole window; this provides access to the other rooms. Yacht owners will recognize the flowing lines of the Euro-style living space, with its flush cabinetry and indirect lighting. Comfort abounds with stainless steel appliances, leather appointments and a fl ush-mount flat screen television. "The PanAmerica has a very contemporary interior featuring European materials and design cues we haven’t used before,"Wheeler said."The beauty of the PanAmerica is how flexible the rear garage area really is.We know that many of the adventurers that dream of hitting the open road in an Airstream also ride, surf, kayak or hit the trails. It’s a perfect place to store your gear. Some of our customers are even talking about transforming the back room into a mobile office." So if you dream of encapsulating your perfect motorcycle world, and succumbing to the impulse of wanderlust, the PanAmerica is your mobile cocoon. There is room for your weather-beaten copy of "Travels With Charley" and companions of your choice; a pair of aces from among your favorite hyper-bike, cruiser, classic or all terrain assault weapons; and all the gear and spares you will need to disconnect from normal life. Add this to amenities that answer both your daily needs and indulgences, instant membership in an exclusive club, and you are off to discover the joys of Airstreaming. Byam 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, re-fueling, recharging or regretting." Had his grandmother been a motorcyclist, that luxury would have been even more gracious.