Kate Pierson of the B-52s fell so hard for her first Airstream that she ended up owning enough of the travel trailers to open an all-Airstream hotel in the desert near Joshua Tree National Park.
The Los Angeles Times reported fans of the retro-chic silver bullets spend $200 a night to sleep in vintage trailers. With names such as “Lava,” “Tiki” and “Planet Air,” each is decorated with posters and memorabilia of the famed “Love Shack” rock group.
“It’s a magical place,” Pierson said recently. “Six Airstreams on a sand dune!”
But 100 miles west, at Los Angeles’ largest Airstream dealer, a sign on the door says, “Yes, we’re still making them.”
Now owned by recreational vehicle giant Thor Industries Inc., Airstream has been building its signature riveted aluminum travel trailers since 1931. The company says that 65% of all Airstreams ever built are still on the road. So fans of the iconic vacation capsules are surprised to learn the Airstreams on the road aren’t all vintage units.
“We get asked that question more than I would like,” sighed Bob Wheeler, Airstream president and chief executive. “A lot of people don’t even know we’re still in business.”
Apparently, people are finding out. Last year was the best in Airstream’s history. Sales for 2014 were up 26% over 2013, while sales for the RV industry as a whole rose only 11%, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Assn.
Thor Industries stock is trading at $63, more than double its value five years ago.
The product is pricey. An entry-level, 16-foot Sport trailer starts at $42,000. A top of the line, 28-foot Land Yacht starts at $146,000. In between are Flying Clouds, Classics and Internationals.
There’s also a line of 24-foot Touring Coaches — built on Mercedes-Benz Sprinter platforms — that cost $134,000 to $151,000.
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