Why we bought an Airstream Caravel
A couple years ago, while looking at my bare metal truck, my chromed motorcycle, and our aluminum V-Rod, my pal Dave Zemla asked what I had against paint. “Nothing!” I responded. “Things just look better without it.”
The one thing missing in the paint-free zone was an Airstream, the coolest of all unpainted things, and something my feller and I always loved but never thought we’d have.
The Vagabond Life
Since selling our house the end of September, we’ve been vagabonding it, going from Airbnbs to Hotels to our house in Yucca Valley. It’s been a blast.
But then we had a thought:
Why not be the ultimate vagabonds…
And make our lifelong Airstream dream a reality?
Airstream began in Wally Byam’s Los Angeles backyard in 1929, first as a tent on a Model T chassis, and later as a teardrop-shaped shelter (first wife Marion didn’t love the tent).
He also added a stove and an ice chest. His goal?
… to build a travel trailer that would move like a stream of air, be light enough to be towed by a car, and create first-class accommodations anywhere.
I’d say he most definitely achieved that goal.
With so many gorgeous options out there, what was the right Airstream for us?
The Hunt Was On…
We knew we wanted small, although we were open to a range, up to 22 feet. I’ve got to say, we saw some really really really bad Airstreams. We also looked at new ones, but the old ones (of course) appealed to us more. We both wanted unmolested, mostly original. Brian especially wanted the Alclad aluminum used up until 1969, and since I loved the pre-1969 shape, we narrowed down our year.
Our Airstream Caravel
After searching far-and-wide, we found this little guy just a few blocks from our Yucca Valley house. It hit all of our points. Great original condition. 1966 (same year as our house and our Jeep). And just 17′. Plus, a spotlessly clean interior with all original working appliances and fixtures (except for the water heater).
We brought the little Caravel home Thanksgiving morning.
While the turkey roasted, we got to tinkering. In the ’60s, Airstream began clear-coating the trailers after complaints of oxidation. The clear-coat, though, peels after time, so the trailer looks patchy, like ours. Stripping them isn’t hard, but certainly time-consuming and messy.
While Brian got all of the appliances checked out and going, and did his usual refinements…
I took a small panel and stripped it down.
The Plasticoat almost immediately bubbled up and easily wiped off with a terry towel. The difference is pretty astounding, and this isn’t even polished, just stripped.
Brian cleaned out the water heater compartment and got it ready for a new water heater, while I gave the thirsty interior wood some bee oil.
Next Steps with our Caravel
Because the trailer is fifty-one years old, she needs a tender touch and some gentle detailing. Our first major task will be stripping the clear-coat. We also need to strip and repaint the bumpers, propane tanks, and steelies, plus get some hubcaps.
Inside, the only real issue is a broken doorknob. I already got trapped once while Brian was at work. (Note to self: Don’t text hubby next time, since he’ll post it on Facebook) Incidentally, I got myself out.
Living the Dream
Several times after bringing the Caravel home, Brian and I looked at each other and said, “I can’t believe this is ours.” Even the keys are adorable.
We can’t wait for the many adventures this baby will bring. As they say on the Airstream site:
(Airstreams) are intended as a lifetime investment in happiness.
Can’t beat that, now can you.
Until next time…
P.S. I’m still rebuilding the site after the great crash of 2017, so if you click a post and find pictures missing, that’s why.
2 thoughts on “Welcome Home 1966 Airstream Caravel!”
You guys live the life everyone else wished they did! Including me! Such a great story n love all the pictures. So cute!!
Thank you! We do have fun!