This is a Airstream Excella from 1982, it’s a 28 foot long motorhome that contains a bedroom, bathroom with a toilet and shower, a kitchenette, and a living area with a pull-out sofa bed.
The Airstream Excella became famous in the 1980s after NASA bought one to use for quarantining astronauts returning from space – it was named the “Astrovan.”
Fast Facts – The Airstream Excella Motorhome
- The Airstream Excella was released in the early 1970s as a combination of the famous riveted aluminum body travel trailer and a modern motorhome.
- This combination proved highly popular and it became a best-selling model for the American company.
- The styling of the Excella was leagues ahead of the competition, and thanks to the corrosion resistance of aluminium many of them are still being used today.
- The Excella motorhome was based on many General Motors components, which made sourcing spares easy for owners.
The Invention Of The Airstream
Airstream was founded back in the 1930s to build what was then the most cutting edge design for travel trailers: a riveted monocoque aluminum body over internal aluminum ribs, a concept taken directly from the world of aircraft manufacturing.
The idea of building travel trailers in this way was first conceived of by aircraft designer Hawley Bowlus, he was the Superintendent of Construction on Charles Lindbergh’s aircraft the Spirit of St. Louis.
Bowlus took aircraft design principles, including both the aerodynamics and the aluminum construction and created the Bowlus Road Chief – the first aluminum travel trailer of its type.
The Road Chief triggered a revolution in the travel trailer market, the design was improved upon soon after by Airstream founder Wally Byam and today the company is still turning out gleaming alloy trailers for use in the USA and around the world.
The Airstream Excella Motorhome
The Airstream Excella Motorhome was first offered for sale in the 1970s, over time a number of different versions were offered, with different lengths and interior set ups.
The Excella Motorhomes were largely based on General Motors components from the chassis down, with Airstream building everything from the chassis up – including that riveted aluminum alloy body of course.
NASA had started using specially modified Airstreams to quarantine astronauts returning from the moon – including the Apollo 11, Apollo 12, and Apollo 13 crews. At the time there was a very real fear that they would bring deadly lunar pathogens back with them, an idea perhaps inspired by the book The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.
By the 1980s the quarantine and transport trailers had been upgraded to the Airstream Excella, the NASA-modified version was called the Astrovan and it was used throughout the entire Space Shuttle program.
Even today NASA still uses an Airstream motorhome for transporting astronauts to the launch pad, it’s called the Astrovan II and it’s a modified Airstream Atlas.
The 1982 Airstream Excella Shown Here
The 1982 Airstream Excella you see here has been preserved remarkably well in all of its retro 80s glory. It has a bedroom with twin beds, a fully equipped bathroom with hot and cold water, a shower, and toilet.
Further along you’ll find the kitchenette with a dual sink, a pantry, refrigerator, freezer, and oven with four gas burners on the stovetop.
Up front there’s a living area with a pull-out sofa bed for when you have guests and right at the front you’ll find the expansive cockpit with two swiveling captain’s chairs.
The eagle-eyed will have already noticed the two air-conditioning units on top, these provide both heating and cooling as it’s needed, with power provided by the onboard battery bank and 6.5 Kw generator.
Motive power is provided by a prodigious 454 cubic inch (7.4 liter) GM-sourced V8 mated to an automatic transmission. The description notes that it provides more than enough power to comfortably sustain highway speeds of 65+ mph.
This Airstream is currently being offered for sale out of Lubbock, Texas with a price guide of $50,000 – $75,000 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of The Market by Bonhams
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.