The History of Airstream

Founded about a century ago, Airstream has gradually grown from a small business run by one man in his backyard to an American cult company, its trailers instantly recognizable. Enough people in the U.S. are familiar with the Ohio-based company and can easily identify one of its luxury trailers, far fewer are aware of the brand's history and why it has such a dominant market position. With a fascinating history spanning nearly 100 years, we decided to take a deep dive into the illustrious company, explore its history and importance, and explore its entire line of mobile autonomous homes in this complete guide to Airstream.

Airstream was founded by one Wally Byam in Los Angeles in the late 1920s. Born on July 4, 1896, Byam grew up on his uncle's sheep farm, where he lived in a van towed by a donkey that was equipped with all the necessary stove, food storage, water and other amenities. Wally eventually left the farm and went to study at Stanford, graduating in 1921, after which he began working in advertising, journalism and publishing. On weekends, Wally Byam and his wife usually went camping, and while he loved being outdoors, he never liked sleeping in a tent on the ground or being exposed to the elements.

In 1984, Airstream was purchased by THOR Industries, which still owns the company. Headquartered in Jackson Center, Ohio, Airstream now has more than 800 employees, who on average produce about 50 trailers each week - or about 2,600 a year. Today, Airstream produces eight travel trailers and five travel buses. It's unclear what the next century or so holds for Aistream, but a recently released concept from parent company THOR gave us a glimpse into the future of luxury travel trailers in the era of electric vehicles. This trailer, dubbed the Airstream eStream, has its own on-board electric drivetrain and battery packs that allow it to partially move while towing, greatly improving the fuel economy (or range) of the tractor. In addition to regenerative braking energy capture, the integrated twin independent motors and a pair of rechargeable batteries also allow the eStream to park and move short distances while disconnected from the tractor - a feature that can be controlled remotely via smartphone. So while the company remains deeply rooted in tradition, it has a great eye on the future of electric transportation.

These trailers are also manufactured with top-notch craftsmanship and superb attention to detail. All of these factors give Airstream travel trailers incredible durability and the ability to withstand decades on the road before any repairs are needed. It also means that they come with a high price tag, an area that is aided by the iconic status that the iconic company has earned over the course of its existence. Full-size vintage models still carry solid price tags and are auctioned off for fabulous sums. Airstream's tradition of quality craftsmanship lives on in many ways today, which is another reason why the Ohio-based firm's merchandise has such high recommended retail prices. The company regularly turns to industry-leading brands when outfitting its trailers with appliances, systems, equipment and even trim and fixtures. Ultimately, all of this is done to ensure maximum comfort anywhere on the road, but unsurprisingly, it comes at a price. But judging by the brand's continued success over the past century, it's clear that many adventurers and travelers appreciate this formula. Do not forget to use Airstream VIN decoder in order to avoid potential problems when buying a used car.

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