Is it Vintage?Damon Beals

Is your recreational vehicle made by Airstream AND 25 years or older? Are you a member of the WBCCI/ACI?

If you answered YES to these questions, you qualify for membership.

Are you a WBCCI/ACI member whose RV isn’t yet old enough, but still love the vintage lifestyle? No problem, become an Affiliate member of the club.

Not yet a WBCCI/ACI member but ready to join?

Check out the WBCCI/ACI and then sign up (WBCCI Membership). Check out the Local Club Map to know what area and region you are in. Find a unit near you or one that suits your preferences.

A question was asked during the Vintage Airstream Club Report at the November 17, 2022, WBCCI Meeting regarding how we differentiate a 25-year-old Vintage Airstream from a 50-year-old vintage Airstream.

After the meeting I investigated the Classification System that is currently used by the Tin Can Tourists (TCT) multi-brand RV club and found it as follows:

• ANTIQUE: Build prior to the end of WWII (i.e. 1945 and earlier)
• VINTAGE: Built from 1946 thru 1969
• CLASSIC: Built from 1970 up to 20-years-old
• NEW: Less than 20-years-old

Given the narrower brand focus of WBCCI and the VAC, I proposed a similar, but modified classification system adapted to our Airstream-related brands at the November 21, 2022 VAC Board Meeting and then modified the classification names based upon their feedback. Here is the current proposal, open to other name suggestions:

  • PRE-WAR: 1931 thru 1941
    Less than 20 Airstreams from this era a currently known to still exist, a mix of riveted aluminum Clippers and various wood and Masonite Airstream models.
  • MID-CENTURY: 1946 thru 1968
    These are the traditional “Wally Byam designed” or “Wally Byam influenced” models that are “iconically” vintage. They have traditional shell shapes and interiors made from traditional materials.
    These models were made in significant quantities and are common at VAC events. Eligible trailers from this era include Airstream, Wally Byam’s Holiday (1954-55), and even Curtis Wright (1946-49).

  • VINTAGE: 1969 thru 1993
    These are first “totally new” models in the “post Wally Byam” era, with a shell shape that has been attributed to Art Costello and the adoption of modern materials in their interiors. These are also referred to as the “Beatrice Years” (1969-79) and “Early Thor Years” (1980-1993). Airstream production peaked in the 1970s so these models are often more affordable and they have become more attractive to restorers and remodelers and more common at VAC events in recent years. Class A and Class B motorized Airstream products and short lived “squarestream” trailers both first appear in this era. Eligible trailers and motorhomes from this era include Airstream and Argosy.

  • MODERN VINTAGE: 1994 up to 25-years-old (currently 1998)
    These are the 2nd “totally new” models in the “post Wally Byam” era. The shell is slightly “squarer”, yet still rounded and riveted, but is assembled using a significantly different process. Windows are “frameless”. Class A and B Airstream motorhomes continue and evolve on their own schedule. These models are perhaps still “too new” to show up in significant quantities at VAC events.

  • NEW: Less than 25-years-old (currently 1999 and newer)
    Traditional rounded and riveted Airstreams from this era retain the shell design that was introduced in 1994, but interior styles and materials evolve to offer a broader range of options to Airstream owners. Eventually, Class A motorhomes are discontinued, and Class B motorhomes move to new and different van chassis’. Non-traditional Airstream products such as the Basecamp and Nest appear. These products are not currently eligible to participate in the VAC Concours de Elegance, but their owners can become VAC Affiliate Members and participate in all other VAC activities.

Note: It has been suggested that we avoid using “Classic” for any of our classification categories to avoid confusion with the Classic Airstream intra-club and with the Airstream model named the “Classic”.

Joe Peplinski, VAC Historian, BRNs 702 & 6768