Mae West

1958 Airstream trailer gets university makeover

In May I took a little road trip to visit the RV Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana for an story about the  the RV industry: Celebrating 100 years on the road.

From RV Museum and Hall of Fame - 2-door travel trailer 1954

A 1954 Yellowstone Travel Trailer - with two doors

So I was intrigued when I saw a story about the 26-foot 1958 Airstream Overlander trailer being gutted and re-modeled by a group of students at Washington State University in Spokane.

1958 Airstream Overlander

They’ve been working on it all summer and, according to a university report, “Part of the focus of the project is to explore the sustainability issues of today’s society and challenge the current image of the travel trailer industry.”

They’ve gutted the inside, but luckily they’re committed to preserving the trailer’s historic exterior character.

Here’s a short video on their progress:

And here’s the part I’m especially excited about: this fall, when the Airstream is all shiny and renovated,  the students will be taking the trailer on the road to show off their handiwork.  (And party?) After that, the updated WSU Airstream trailer will be either given away in a contest or sold. To find out what happens, follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

And for inspiration, here are few photos from the collection of the RV Museum and Hall of Fame:

Mae West's 1931 Chevrolet trailer

Mae West's 1931 Chevrolet trailer

1936 Airstream Clipper at RV Museum and Hall of Fame

1936 Airstream Clipper

(Vintage RV photos courtesy RV Museum and Hall of Fame)

Why didn’t the helihome ever catch on?

I spent a few hours last week at the RV Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana, where curator and RV historian  Al Hesselbart was kind enough to give me a personal tour of the collection and share some of his RV stories and photos.  I’ll be including some of the photos in my Well Mannered Traveler column on this week, along with tips on RV etiquette, but wanted to share a few of my favorites right away.

The first is this 1931 Chevrolet Housecar, which was owned by Mae West. Hesselbart is confident West never really camped out in this house on wheels, but rather used this chauffeur-driven model in much the same way modern-day actors use trailers on the set.

And check out this 1976 Heli-home, a helicopter camper – with canopy – that could sleep six.

If you had one of these, you’d have little chance of getting stuck at the airport on your way to your next camping vacation.