When it comes to RVs, you’ve got your run-of-the-mill vehicles, which lead people to behavior like this, and then you’ve got the classier sort — namely the silver beauty known as the Airstream. The gleaming rock star of the RV world, the Airstream has been embraced by everyone from vintage enthusiasts to NASA since its first appearance in the 1930s. In conjunction with its Sailor Jerry Presents concert series, the retro-minded rum merchant has embraced it as well, outfitting an Airstream trailer to take its rock n’ roll mission on the road. Inspired by that iconic mashup, we went hunting for more adventurous Airstream appropriations — and we think you’ll be equally inspired by what we found.
The Sailor Jerry vintage Airstream on the road.
Click through to explore the full Airstream gallery.
Airstream Ranch is the work of a Florida RV dealer named Frank Bates, who upended eight trailers and installed them into the ground as an artistic statement on the heritage of the brand. While many loved the installation, the county did not, and Bates struggled through a long legal battle before eventually winning the right to keep the display intact.
NASA has been one of the most high-profile Airstream adopters, using the brand’s vehicles for its fleet of AstroVans, which have shuttled astronauts to the shuttle since the 1980s. Earlier on, the agency used a modified Airstream to create is Mobile Quarantine Facility, where lunar explorers were sequestered in 1969 while the government made sure they didn’t bring back Space Flu. (Note: Not a real disease. Yet.)
Images via Infendo
The folks at Nintendo know what their fans love — namely Donkey Kong, Mario, and friends. As if this trailer wasn’t already loveable enough from the outside, its game-stocked interior is enough to make any game boy (or girl) consider making this mobile home their actual domicile.
NASA isn’t the only government agency taken with the Airstream’s sleek style. The US Air Force has turned the vehicles into mobile command units, which actually take the Airstreams into the air. The modified “Silver Bullets” sit amid the seats on military transports, and serve as everything from meeting rooms to more comfortable accommodations for traveling A-list politicos.
Images via the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The passion project of a group of dedicated bookworms, the Projet Mobilivre Bookmobile was a traveling small-press library that toured North America to promote independent authors and artists, literacy, and social activism. The program has been on hiatus for a few years now, but we’re hoping to see it eventually return to the road.
Spencer Tunick, “Nyack 1,” 2011, C-print, 20 x 24 inches, unframed, Edition of 6
For this year’s Pulse Contemporary Art Fair in Miami, fashion designer Mara Hoffman teamed up with three other artists, including infamous photographer Spencer Tunick. The limited-edition swimwear Hoffman produced featured the other artists’ work, and her mobile exhibition included a vintage Airstream — which Tunick also used for his collaborative contribution, snapping the trailer with a small (for Tunick) group of nude models in upstate New York.
Spencer Tunick, “Nyack 3,” 2011, C-print, 20 x 24 inches, unframed, Edition of 6
Images via Dwell
Japanese architect Toshihiko Suzuki took a Doctor Who-like approach to his Airstream modification. Using foldaway structures based on his Kenchikukagu series, Suzuki created a multipurpose dwelling that contains a collapsible kitchen, bedroom, and workspace. Only one can surface at any given time, but together they make the creation arguably larger inside than out.
British recording studio Rockhopper transformed a 1963 Airstream Overlander into a mobile recording studio, which it uses to travel around the country, recording bands as it goes. In conjunction with the folks behind the Netsounds Unsigned podcast, the Rockhopper Mobile Studio has played host to numerous unsigned acts and created a record of their performances.
Food trucks are clearly all the rage these days, and nowhere is that more evident than in Austin, Texas. The Crepes Mille stands out from the crowd by being housed in a vintage Airstream trailer, but it’s not the only one in town. In fact, it’s right next to another Airstream that serves as a puppy-adoption center. Puppies, crepes, and that irresistible silver gleam? We know where we’re stopping this year during SXSW.
Discover more Airstream eateries at Airstream Cuisine on Facebook.
While we discovered many creative uses for Airstreams both old and new, few come close to the one at the Silverton Casino in Vegas. Set indoors, the familiar silver frame conceals one of the last things you’d expect to find inside — a fully functional (albeit miniaturized) two-lane bowling alley.
Images via Junk Gypsy
Country singer Miranda Lambert entrusted the Airstream trailer she uses as a tour bus to the women of Junk Gypsy for a full makeover. What the roving flea-market mavens delivered was most likely beyond her expectations, because the down-home, kitsch-tastic result looks like the perfect spot to take refuge from (or on) the road.
Images via Dwell
This mobile store for outdoorsy outfitter Aether was designed by France’s Thierry Gaugain. In addition to being an awesome store on wheels, the interior features hardwood floors, a working fireplace, and vintage furniture and camping gear. Whoever gets to drive this around has a pretty sweet gig.
In 2009, the Danish designers at the Republic of Fritz Hansen tackled the Airstream, along with another iconic vehicle, the MINI Cooper. Using a slick, retro-modern aesthetic, they turned the trailer into a high-design-minded beach bum’s dream, complete with a fold-out sunbed.
To promote the launch of its First Ascent line of outdoor clothing, Eddie Bauer wanted more than a mobile pop-up shop. The brand went with a full-on mobile laboratory, which it took to snow-topped mountains for the kind of on-location experimentation with fabrics, fits, and durability you just can’t duplicate when you come in from the cold.
Why should humans have all the fun? This canine camper from Canada’s Straight Line Designs allows your pooch to appreciate all things Airstream, as well. (Well, all things except actual road-worthiness, but still.)