Day One - The Hunt begins.
I know I know, it's not an Airstream. But in my defense, the ad SAID it was an Airstream.
The ad read like many others on Craiglist - something like "Old Airstream For Sale". Nothing too specific. From the pics I could tell it was not an Airstream - more likely a Silver Streak or Curtis Wright, but a cool trailer for sure and probably late 40's or early 50's. I almost didn't call. It looked pretty rough. The price was up there. But, it was close, in Colorado, so what the heck.
The guy told me this old trailer had been on their land for decades - sort of an impromptu hunting shack way out on their land somewhere. He had decided to pull it in and sell it. He was asking around 8K for it - which seemed like a lot for the condition, but still worth a trip up to take a look.
The seller seemed straight, and he agreed to hold it for a couple of days until I could get up there - there being Colorado Springs. I was in Phoenix at the time so it was a decent drive. You always hope that they don't sell it out from under you after you make the 800 mile drive. But true to his word, the man had the trailer for sale when I arrived a couple of days later.
We had met at his house and when I arrived, there was no trailer to be seen. "Its up on the land" he said. "Follow me." So I did. We headed out of town, on a two lane road highway, then a two lane paved road, then a dirt road, then a rough dirt road, then a two track path, before finally arriving at a gate an hour later. Through the gate and up a VERY steep curvy hill we go, and I'm thinking "great ... can I even get the trailer out of here?"
We get to the lodge and there he is, parked alongside a work shed.
The original ID badge was still on the trailer, along with the ID number and model. It was a Silver Streak Clipper - Model 7. The number proved it likely to be a 1952. The ID number etched on the frame matched the badge - a great start.
Pierre had seen better days for sure. Both of the front curve "alien eye" windows were broken and taped over. Most of the side windows were broken out. The door window was gone. Someone had opened the door with a shotgun and blown the entire door latch out.
Poor Pierre. I felt perhaps he was beyond repair. But then I went inside.
When I stepped inside this 65 year old travel trailer, I had to contain my excitement.
If trailers are like people, and it's whats inside that counts, Pierre was a Prince.
Somehow, in spite of the pain he endured outside, Pierre maintained a near ageless form within.
He was beautiful. It was all there.
The original refrigerator. The original PanelRay Heater. The original Dixie gas stove. The original soft green "cracked ice" counter top and matching dinette table. The original click-clack beds with the original fabric perfectly preserved with custom made red velvet cushion covers. The original gas-fired light WITH the original shade still in place. The original brochures for the appliances in the top kitchen drawer. All of it. Intact and immaculate.
The custom made red velvet curtains and bed covers gave the appearance of an 19th century French Boudoir - thus the 1952 Silver Streak Clipper was newly christened Pierre.
My dog Carma immediately took up residence on one of the folding beds. I had to have it.
Before anyone could change their minds, I settled my bill, fastened Pierre to my trusty Ford F-150, and edged slowly back towards civilization, stopping as soon as I could to check that he was following obediently and safely, and to admire him in the soon-to-be setting sun.
Day 2 - The Drive Back
After restful night in Colorado Springs I was ready to head back towards AZ. But not before getting the wheel bearings checked out. The seller had already installed new rubber so that was a nice bonus. The local Les Schwab came to the rescue and took care of business for me.
Pierre glided along on his new shoes as smooth as can be ... and the drive South towards Taos was spectacular. The greatest perk of Airstream Hunting is the parts of the country you see along the way. Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico are not to be missed if you have not had the pleasure of a road trip in this area.
Pierre and I arrived safe and sound in Taos, NM just as the sun set over the New Mexico Mesa.
It was my first time in Taos, a magical place I would later call home, and I was captivated.
Day 3 - One great thing can lead to another.
The morning arrived in Taos, blue and bright. I was excited about finding a Clipper. I was thinking ... they are pretty rare right? You don't see them every day. I'm really lucky to have found this one ...
No sooner had the thought passed through my mind and a bright gleam catches my attention to my left. I turn and see the impossible - Pierre's cousin had dropped by to visit.
The odds of another Clipper just happening by seemed impossible, but here it was. Another Silver Streak Clipper Model 7 - this one number 2281.
The owner walks up, introduces himself, and explains that he was just driving by on the highway next to the RV park and saw Pierre sitting up proudly in the sun. So of course he had to stop and introduce them.
What an opportunity for me to see another one up close already restored. Fantastic !! I'm commenting on the extraordinary odds of seeing two of these trailers randomly at the same place and same time and our new friend says "I know where there's another one .... if you are interested"
"If I'm interested? Tell me more!"
Pierre and I bid Taos adieu and headed on back towards Arizona. After a full concours restoration, Pierre found a new home halfway around the world at a 5 star resort in Australia. Who would have imagined such a charmed second life.
PS ... Stay tuned for the next part in my series Great Finds when I go on the hunt for Pierre's lost New Mexico cousin.