This beautifully preserved 1950s Airstream Globetrotter camper is one of just seven that were made to this specification and it currently belongs to the official painter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, François Bruère.
Bruère had owned the Globetrotter for a decade and had many adventures towing it behind his Cadillac in France, sometimes to the Circuit de la Sarthe for the Le Mans weekend. Rumor has it that this Airstream was formerly owned by a Hollywood actor who used it for weekends in the Californian desert.
Fast Facts – A 1950s Airstream Globetrotter
- The travel trailers by Airstream are known for their gleaming aluminum alloy bodies and their long history, a history that dates all the way back to the late 1920s.
- Airstream was founded by Wally Byam in 1931 but he had built his first travel trailer on a Model T Ford chassis back in 1929.
- The first Airstream trailers were made from Masonite in Byam’s backyard, but when Hawley Bowlus (designer of the Spirit of St. Louis) developed a aluminum monocoque travel trailer it revolutionized the industry, and Wally Byam followed suit.
- Of the hundreds of companies building travel trailers Airstream would be one of very few to restart production after WWII – Airstream quickly became a nationally-known brand and their travel trailers were bought by everyone from NASA to regular suburban families.
Airstream And The Spirit of St. Louis
Airstream was founded by Wally Byam in 1931, however he had been experimenting with travel trailer designs for two to three years by this point as an amateur. His designs had attracted so much attention that people started commissioning him to build them to order.
His first travel trailer, or caravan as they’re called in many parts of the world, was a simple tent-like structure built on a Model T Ford chassis. His later designs were more refined, they were made from Masonite and they offered good protection from the elements.
A little later in the 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression, an engineer and designer named Hawley Bowlus oversaw the construction of the Spirit of St. Louis, it would be the first aircraft to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic from New York to Paris.
Bowlus took his expertise in aircraft design and applied it to travel trailer design, doing up with a new aerodynamic shape and building it from aluminum. It would be the first monocoque aluminum travel trailer, and it triggered a revolution within the industry.
Wally Byam quickly realized that aluminum construction was the future of the industry, so he left his Masonite behind and developed a new streamlined camper with a polished alloy exterior.
In the years since the company has continued to evolve the designs, Airstreams would be used by NASA for decades when quarantining returning astronauts to ensure they didn’t have any unusual pathogens, and they became a common sight in campgrounds across the USA as people used them as mobile holiday homes.
The 1950s Airstream Globetrotter Camper Shown Here
The Airstream Globetrotter you see here is one of seven that were made in this configuration, it has three front and rear windows with mosquito nets instead of bay windows, and it’s been carefully kept in period-correct condition inside.
More recently the seals have been changed and the body work polished, the floor has been redone, the interior was restored (while retaining the period furniture), and it has an oven, gas cookers, a range hood, a sink, and a refrigerator.
The horseshoe bench seat can be quickly converted into a double bed and the front dining set up can be set up indoors or outdoors depending on the weather.
This Airstream Globetrotter is due to roll across the auction block with Artcurial on the 2nd of July at the Le Mans Classic sale. The price guide is $63,300 – $105,500 USD, and you can visit the listing here if you’d like to read more or register to bid.
Images courtesy of Artcurial – ©Kevin Van Campenhout
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.