Airstream's Land Yacht concept is production-bound

Updating the Airstream trailer, the glinting American icon whose riveted aluminium skin has cheated the winds of change for eight decades, is tantamount to tweaking the evolutionary formula that defines, for instance, the Porsche 911.

“It’s a piece of classic American industrial art,” said Bob Wheeler, the marque’s president and CEO. “Everyone recognises an Airstream.”

Thus was the Land Yacht design concept born in late 2012. The trailer wears a moniker that has been applied to generations of overland Airstreams throughout the company’s history. Intended to evoke the grandeur and freedom of maritime travel, the modern Land Yacht differs from its predecessors in the breadth of its feature content and attention paid to its interior, which was styled by Riva Yachts designer Mauro Micheli.

And earlier this month, the Land Yacht was given the green light for production, which is set to commence in August. 

“Every Airstream looks basically the same from the outside,” said Wheeler, who has been with the company for nearly a decade and is the owner of a 1958 Airstream Pacer. “We’re not your grandfather’s Airstream from the ’50s.”

With space for as many as five fortunate campers, the 28-foot-long production model is expected to include boat-deck-style wood flooring along with a smattering of Italian fabrics and Corian counter surfaces, all illuminated by subtle LED elements. Outside, a power-operated retractable awning supplants a manually extended one.

The Land Yacht will be assembled alongside other Airstream products in Jackson Center, Ohio.  According to Wheeler, there are already orders on the books for exports as far away as China. And more than merely attracting well-heeled campers, the three-tonne behemoth is designed to appeal to nontraditional camper buyers, such as film and TV professionals and those seeking a mobile office solution. “These customers will be less likely to take it to a campground or an RV park,” Wheeler said. “People look at this shell as a vessel where they can exercise their creative sense.”

Wheeler was mum on pricing for the production Land Yacht, but hinted that the top-shelf Airstream will likely fall into the upper five-figure range, among Airstream’s other travel trailers, which range in length from 16 to 31 feet. Some months before the on-sale date, he remained confident that the Land Yacht’s timelessness will be one of its strongest selling points.

“It represents a great combination of iconic American design, with Italian marine design inside,” Wheeler said. “It almost has to be seen to be appreciated.”