The Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine

1948 Curtis Wright Deluxe Clipper or Airstream Whirlwind Prototype??

Marshfield, MA 02050
United States

Price
$35,000.00
Condition
Used
Quantity Available
1

Description
I purchased this trailer several years ago sight unseen believing it to be a standard ‘48 Clipper. It was purchased and titled by the previous owners as such, but it is clearly not a typical CW Clipper.

Overall length is 28’ ball to bumper. Interior is 26’ long, 7’-6” wide, 6”-2” tall, with two doors. Forward curbside is 28”, rear streetside 24”. It does not bear a CW name tag with serial number, or show rivet holes where this would typically have been mounted. However stamped into frame that supports the coupler are the numerals “8180” that would place it in the middle of 1947 CW Clipper production. The signature alien eye windows, rivet pattern, doors, hinges, side windows and other details all say CW, while a twin steel channel ladder style frame is visible in place of the pipe frame that one might expect, most likely used to provide the rigidity to carry an extra wide 28’ trailer over a single axle.
The overall condition of the shell is excellent and the end caps are nearly perfect, as are the interior end caps as well. There are some holes and witness marks that might suggest "modifications" made by various owners over the course of its life particularly at the rear. Most puzzling are the roof mounted marker lights that do not appear to be period correct, however there are no indications of the inner end cap having been molested to facilitate their installation.

In 1946-47 the Curtis Wright Trailer Division produced units ranging from fourteen to thirty feet bearing the names Flagship, Cruiser, Cutter, Tandem Deluxe, and Trail-R-Pal or “Model 2”, but these were all flat sided and built mostly of wood and Masonite. The “Model 5 Clipper was CW’s first and only trailer built of aluminum in the monocoque style, and it wasn't built until Wally Byam started working there.

Since I have been unable to find any documentation to positively identify this trailer, the following is entirely speculative on my part ………………..

Bringing his pre-war trailer experience to CW in 1946, Wally Byam was the driving design force at the company during his brief time there. He left in early ‘47 to re-start Airstream.
The 1947 CW Clipper (even reviving the “Clipper” name) was the evolutionary offspring of Byam’s original 1936 Airstream Clipper, itself inspired by the 1934 Bowlus Road Chief.

I believe that while at CW, Byam was experimenting with what would be the future of Airstream.
Just as the CW Clipper was the template for his Liner, I believe this trailer is the template for what would become his super rare ’48 Whirlwind, the only known example of which sits at the factory museum at Jackson Center.

To the best of my reasoning this Curtis Wright 28 footer is most likely the prototype for what was promised to be their "Deluxe Clipper" model which is described and pictured in CW advertisements from the era.
Now at the present time, being unaware of the existence of, or even a reference to a Deluxe Clipper in any collection, I would question whether or not the model ever got to the production stage.
Given the relatively short lifespan of the Curtis Wright trailer brand post war (prior to becoming Silver Streak), it's quite likely that the "big Clipper idea" was simply too big an idea for the times and got left by the wayside. The likely very small number of Airstream Whirlwinds ever produced would bear out this assumption.

I believe this trailer occupies a unique place in the history of Curtis Wright as well as Airstream. It's a blank canvas for someone to create the vintage trailer of their dreams. You will be the star of any Vintage rally. Relatively speaking, original Road Chiefs and pre war Clippers are fairly common by comparison. I believe this trailer is in fact One of One ever made and doubt you'll ever see another one like it!
Accepting offers. Charly 617-697-5507, clbx@mac.com
View Count 1,590
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