Predating Airstream: The Bowlus Road Chief Luxury Trailer
The travel trailer has become an icon for modern-day wanderers. Simply hitch ‘em up and the open road becomes your comfy abode. That’s freedom. But most RVs and trailers aren’t much more than boxes on wheels. Albeit, well-equipped boxes.
The modern Bowlus Road Chief is a bit different. As its styling would suggest, it hearkens back to an earlier time for road nomads. In fact, these designs—first pioneered by aircraft engineer Hawley Bowlus in 1934—predate the legendary Airstream trailer. Due to the hardships of the Great Depression, Bowlus produced only about 80 original Road Chiefs in total, but an entrepreneurial family has put the travel trailer back in mint in California, modernized it, and these current-day Road Chiefs are quite the package.
Measuring in at 24-feet long, the Bowlus Road Chief comes wrapped in a mirror-like, aircraft grade aluminum shell, which forms an iconic exterior and conceals a thoroughly well appointed interior. A door at its prow leads occupants through a spacious cooking area—complete with fridge, microwave, and extendable faucet—and into a posh common area. A 4G cellular booster comes standard, so you don’t have to completely lose touch with the rest of the world, and this space can even fit a kayak, surfboard, or pair of bikes if need be. A bathroom and shower live right outside the main bedroom, and that sleeping area accommodates two twin beds, which are capable of converting into one king. Your wanderlust leading you to somewhere hot or cold? The Bowlus Road Chief features heated floors and an air-conditioning system. All told, the Road Chief tips the scales at a remarkable 2,300 pounds, or approximately the weight of a 2016 Mazda MX-5. That’s not what you’d call heavy, and combined with trailer's low-drag design, it allows the Bowlus to be towed by a wide range of different vehicles. Underneath that featherweight alloy body lies a torsion axle suspension, ensuring a smooth yet stable ride.
The price for a Bowlus Road Chief trailer is a big one, but perhaps not as big as you might expect—$110,000. Then again, you might not be the only one to enjoy it. "When we first designed and built the new Bowlus Road Chief, we really had this feeling we need to build a trailer that will last for more than a lifetime,” says company founder John Long. “We have a product that can build family memories for multiple generations." Roadtrip, anyone?