HofArc’s craftsmen recently completed a beautiful renovation of a 1987 Airstream 325 Series motorhome. This gorgeous 34-foot unit provides a spacious environment for glamorous travel and outdoor adventure. The owner is a local family who own several successful Santa Barbara and Montecito restaurants. Together, with our design team, they created a tasteful blend of a relaxed family rec room, commercial kitchen, and hi-tech home theater. The combination achieved their goals for understated fashion and hidden functionality.
Newcomers to the vintage trailer experience are often surprised to discover that Airstream produced a wide range of motorhome styles beginning in the mid ‘70s. Airstream ventured into the gas and diesel powered-engine-RV-market with models that resembled everything from ice cream trucks, to cargo vans, diesel pushers, and the familiar rounded aluminum-style. This blog delves into this specific renovation and the broader history of Airstream motorhomes.
Personally, we prefer Airstream’s motorhomes that were designed in the spirit of its iconic silver drag-along trailer era – as they did for nearly two decades from the late ‘70s to the late ‘90s. Why? They’re more simply more attractive, aerodynamic, durable, and the design is timeless.
These two decades of Airstream motorhomes were built with a Chevy power plant and drivetrain. The stout 454ci V8 is a classic engine – having powered such muscle cars as the Corvette, El Camino and Monte Carlo. After 1976, the GM-built 454 was not available in anything but large trucks, limited marine applications, and RVs – including Airstream motorhomes. Suffice to say, the 454 engine, along with GM transmission and chassis provide solid all-American reliability and satisfaction.
The renovation began with the complete removal of the interior, including the carpet, drapery, sofas, bed, upper and lower cabinets, lighting, along with the driver and copilot seats. The interior aluminum walls were washed with a degreaser then sanded, then a base coat and two layers of white no-VOC paint were applied.
A majority of the systems were in working order – such as the fresh- and waste-water tanks, both A/C units, and furnace – so reuse was a supportive part of staying on budget. The existing vinyl-padded dashboard was reused, just stripped down and refinished in shiny black with a stainless insert. The faux wood plastic instrument panel containing all the indicators and switches was used as a template for the brushed stainless steel replacement to come.
The new drivers and co-pilot seats are top-of-the-line in every way imaginable. The extra cushiony leather seats heat, swivel, recline, lumbar adjust, raise and lower – automatically. We’re not sure how the driver is expected to stay awake with this much comfort, but whatever floats your RV!
Speaking of stainless, the client specified that all kitchen and bathroom surfaces be covered in custom fabricated stainless. The client had access to an amazing stainless steel craftsman named Frank who did custom work for all of his restaurants. Fortunately, his quality and service for this job were nothing but top shelf. He even fabricated a custom stainless engine cover in the driver’s compartment.
The sandy blonde hardwood floor adds spatial distance and complements the black leather upholstery. As well, the lower cabinets were also painted black, maintaining unity in the dark layer of the lower setting. The upper cabinets in white offered another opportunity to expand the space. Cabinet designs focused on simple straight lines – a departure from the awkward bends and angles of the original.
Lighting fixtures and faucetry selections gravitated towards stainless materials that focused on functionality, while exuding a refined modern mood. TV monitors in the front and back are connected to the audio system throughout the coach. The front TV extends upward with the push of a remote button from a hidden stainless-topped cabinet. Similarly, the front sofa converts automatically into a queen-sized bed with the flip of a switch.
The client requested two refrigerators, a large sink with flexible sprayer, 4-burner gas stove, and generous amounts of cooking tools, food and dinnerware storage. White room darkening roller shades cover all the windows. A new Tempur-Pedic queen-sized mattress is accessed from three sides in the rear of the coach.
Bathroom accoutrements include a stainless sink, large mirrors and a separate shower. The shower was one of the few original items to remain. The partnership of smart design, with a professional team of refinishers and craftsmen, brought outdated colors and finishes into the new Millennium of style and function.