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Seaside's Beloved Frost Bites Airstream Receives an Overhaul

Posted on Mar 01, 2018 in Frost Bites , Airstream Row , March-April 2018

The Frost Bites Airstream Trailer, a revered 1955 Bubble Whale Tail model, is getting a polishing and a makeover. Tim McNutt, owner of Airstream Polishing of Augusta, Ga., worked for several days, hand-polishing each section for the refurbishing.

McNutt said the Frost Bites Airstream is a rare model that was created solely in Airstream’s California facility. This vintage Airstream trailer might be 63 years old, but the very cool shave ice magnet is most popular among the young and young-at heart.

“Bubbles,” as they are lovingly called, are one of the smallest, most compact and efficient Airstreams. “There were very few Bubbles made, and very few left in existence, placing them among the rarest of all vintage Airstreams,” said McNutt.

Not only are they quirky and cute, they were designed to be functional.

“Originally patterned after the aviation industry,” said McNutt, “the silver, lightweight aluminum, sausage-shape vehicle allows for minimal wind resistance and thus improves fuel efficiency.”

A little history: Airstream Founder Wally Byam was a lawyer who started building trailers as a hobby. He originally sold plans on how to build a trailer in your backyard in the back of Popular Mechanics magazine. History holds that the idea came about because Wally’s wife refused to go camping without a kitchen. Not to be kept from the open road, he built one in the trailer.

Later, Byam partnered with William Hawley Bowlus, a veteran designer who had earlier overseen construction of Charles Lindbergh’s aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis. The body shape dates back to the 1930s when Bowlus took inspiration from his work with airplanes to create a silver trailer called the Bowlus Road Chief. After Bowlus’ company went under in 1935, Byam took it from there.

Interestingly, Airstream was the only travel trailer company to survive the Great Depression, not to mention the aluminum rationing of World War II.

We’re glad. Seaside is fortunate to house several vintage Airstreams that sit across the street from the beach. Their purpose is to serve a variety of American favorites and Southern classics. While adding a fun and funky element to the town, Seaside guests can also enjoy a slice of history with each meal or shave ice.