c.1949 Curtis Wright Travel Trailer,
Lot 278
c.1948 Curtis Wright Travel Trailer Chassis no. 8215
Sold for £13,800 (US$ 22,272) inc. premium

Lot Details
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c.1948 Curtis Wright Travel Trailer
Chassis no. 8215

Footnotes

  • One of the most readily recognised of all American road vehicles, the iconic 'Airstream Clipper' travel trailer originated in the Depression years of the 1930s. Its originator was aeronautical engineer, William Hawley Bowlus, designer of 'The Spirit of St Louis', the single-engined monoplane in which Charles Lindbergh made the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927. Bowlus later turned to manufacturing trailers using a stressed aluminium skin, a form of monocoque construction developed in the aircraft industry. For a while he enjoyed a business association with Wally Byam, who was producing his own trailers under the 'Airstream' name. Byam had previously worked in publishing, only becoming interested in trailer design when one of his magazines published plans for the construction of such a vehicle. The result was not very good, so Byam came up with his own plans, which were well received, and by 1930 had abandoned publishing to become a fulltime trailer manufacturer. Byam's trailers were constructed originally of plywood and later of a material called 'Masonite', a kind of chipboard. His trailer designs began to be influenced by aircraft technology, becoming more streamlined, and in 1934 he coined the name 'Airstream' for the most aerodynamic version to date.
    Meanwhile, William Hawley Bowlus' trailer building venture was foundering. When Bolus filed for bankruptcy in 1936, Byam's Airstream Trailer Company acquired the rights to his aluminium-skinned trailer, selling them under the 'Clipper' name. An American legend had been born.
    With its riveted aluminium monocoque hull, the revolutionary Clipper had more in common with modern aircraft than contemporary trailers, and although expensive was in such demand that the factory could not produce them fast enough. When the USA entered WW2, Wally Byam went to work in the aircraft industry and at the war's end he forged an alliance with Curtis Wright Industries, Aircraft & Trailers (not to be confused with Curtiss-Wright Corporation, the aircraft manufacturer) to continue production of Airstream's pre-war Clipper model. The relationship dissolved in 1947 and Byam and Curtis Wright went their separate ways, though both continued in the trailer business. In 1949 Curtis Wright sold out to three investors, who renamed the firm 'Silver Streak Trailer Company' and continued building what had been the Curtis Wright Clipper at a new factory in California.
    This Curtis Wright trailer was purchased from a scrapyard in the USA in 1985 and delivered to the Indian Valley Camping Center where a new centre beam and new wheel bearings were installed. In March 1996 the trailer was imported into the UK where a major restoration, including new floors, was completed by the vendor and a group of friends. A detailed photographic record of the restoration is on file. Now mellowed, the Curtis nevertheless presents well and is ready to be enjoyed. We are advised that the cooker is fully working, though the original gas fire has been disconnected for reasons of safety. A UK-legal braked axle, handbrake and a concealed 240-volt inverter are the only notified deviations from factory specification. Offered with old Pennsylvania logbook, this Curtis Wright represents a rare opportunity to acquire one of these iconic American trailers.
Auction information

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