Car Tips

Airstreams, silver trailers, make a comeback

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It appears the "silver bullet" trailers are making a comeback.

In the kick-off weekend for summer fun, when it's not unusual to see travel trailers heading out for fun around Southern California, you might notice the distinctive silver trailers, the Airstreams, which have been around since the 1930s.

While the exteriors haven't changed much over the years, the insides are thoroughly modern.

They also have a "cool factor" that's made them popular on movie sets. Hollywood loves them. According to Bob Wheeler, Airstream president, that list includes Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Sean Penn.

A lot of non-celebrities think they're pretty cool, too. At the grand opening of Southern California's first dedicated Airstream dealership at 1212 East Las Tunas Dr. in San Gabriel, aficionados came from far and wide, many with great memories.

"It's an attention-getter," said Mike Anderson, an Airstream fan. "I remember one guy almost broke his neck he was looking at us so longingly."

The Airstreams may still have that retro look from back in the day, but they've been adapted to modern times. They carry energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting and they're all pre-wired for optional rooftop solar panels. Yet, the details remain classic: stylized exterior lights, retro chic.

But then there's the price - very modern. A little 16 footer can be your starter Airstream for around $40,000, and they go up from there. The biggest ones fully loaded can top six figures.

While Airstreams are pricey compared to other trailers, they're not necessarily a bad value, say those who have looked closely.

"The quality, these things last forever," said Barry Ganci, an Airstream shopper at the San Gabriel dealership. "We've looked at resale values for these, and they keep a high resale value."

When you see one of these silver bullets, as they're affectionately known, going down the road, give the owner a friendly wave. Even if it's not a movie star, it's probably just someone who loves having the most distinctive travel trailer out there.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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