British Airstream pioneer talks of caravan obsession

Michael Hold (centre) set about adapting Airstreams for UK roads seven years ago
Michael Hold (centre) set about adapting Airstreams for UK roads seven years ago

Monday, 17, Oct 2011 01:54

by Chris Jefferies

With its iconic silver bullet shape and long list of celebrity admirers, there's no denying that the Airstream is the coolest caravan on the UK's roads.

However, if it weren't for one determined Brit, the retro tourer may never have reached our shores at all, the Yorkshire Post reports.

Michael Hold was the first man to bring the much-loved marque to our shores after convincing the American parent company to sell him the rights to create a version that would be legal on European roads.

It was eighty years ago that the original Airstream caravan captured the imagination of Stateside holidaymakers, but it wasn't until 2004 that Mr Hold set about bringing them to the UK.

"It all started when I went to a caravan show in Kentucky and saw them there. I fell in love with them. They have that affect on you," he told the local paper.

"I was so convinced, I gave up a comfortable corporate job to devote everything to my dream of getting them here," he added.

After three years' work, Airstream Europe completed its original mission and the company now sells a wide range of luxury Airstream caravans, starting at £33,000 for the two-berth Bambi 422.

These tourers are truly international, with a European chassis, British electrics, Swedish central heating and contemporary German furniture.

As well as having a lightweight aluminium bodyshell, Airstream caravans are up to 20 per cent more aerodynamic than a traditional 'van due to their curved front end, which is based on an airplane's fuselage.

What's more, the trend is clearly catching on, as Mr Hold says he has sold 200 of the luxury tourers over the past five years.

Famous Airstream fans include Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, while Neil Armstrong and the rest of the crew of Apollo 11 stayed in one for a week in 1969 as part of their re-acclimatisation process after returning from the moon.

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