Shasta RV to reissue 1961 Shasta Airflyte – 1,941 special edition units launch in September

shasta-airflyte-trailerThe 1961 Shasta Airflyte canned ham trailer is coming back! Well, in a limited edition run, that is. To mark its 75th anniversary, Shasta RV this September will launch production of 1,941 copies of the company’s iconic 1961 Shasta Airflyte travel trailer. On the outside, you likely won’t be able to distinguish the old from the new. On the inside: The reproduction anniversary Shasta will get a vintage look like the original, too, but with modern mechanicals and plumbing. Sticker price is expected to run $15,000 to $17,000. On Wednesday, I spoke with company President Mark Lucas about the introduction – and I’m excited.

First, props to RV Daily Report, which first reported this story. And, thanks to reader Shara, who tipped us to this news.

My interview with Mark Lucas, president of Shasta RV

I tracked Lucas down while he was waiting to get on an airplane in Knoxville, Tenn. To be sure, he sounded juiced about the project, too.

“Shasta is the oldest name in the industry,” he said. “We started in 1941, and are still in production today – even older than Airstream, for example.” Launched in 1941 – 1,941 reproductions to celebrate the 75th anniversary – get it?

Lucas told me that after he joined the company two years ago, he began to notice that competitors were increasingly putting retro-iconic cues on to their products – cues that were basically imitating some of the classic 1961 Shasta features – like the “canned ham” shape and Shasta wings.

1961 shasta trailershasta airflyte

Just how popular was that original ’61 Airflyte? Lucas explained that Shasta first introduced the “canned ham” shape in 1954, built in Shasta’s Los Angeles plant on another model trailer… the Airflyte was introduced in 1961… and by 1967, the look was over.

During that time span, though, Shasta was #1 in the world, with five production facilities in the U.S., including one in Goshen, Indiana, the historic epicenter of trailer manufacturing, he said. Today, the company still operates two production facilities, both in Middlebury, Indiana.

shasta-trailer

Looking at what was happening in the increasingly retro-inspired RV market, Lucas told me he thought, “Why aren’t we in this game?” And as he dug deeper, “Why don’t we just reissue the original?”

1960 cadillacLucas said that he is a “car guy.” The 1960 Cadillac in the glamour shot, above, belongs to his wife — that’s him, with the first reproduction Airflyte. He knew – from being a car guy – that the first step to creating a repro was to get his hands on an original.

Wanted: 1961 Shasta Airflyte for parts – all of them!

So, he went hunting for a 1961 Shasta Airflyte, and once he found it, brought it into one of the plants to take a look at. His partner in flying-under-the-corporate-radar skunks works crime was Mark Dunithan, Shasta RV’s head engineer.

reissues shasta airflyteMark Dunithan — on the right, with Lucas — was a car guy, too, Lucas told me. “He drives a ’53 Chevy pickup that looks like it was found new in a barn. He was a great partner. He really jumped into this project.”

The two Marks – along with the help of craftspeople at the plant – got to work. Within two days, the vintage Shasta was stripped down to its frame. The idea was to disassemble it, learn from it, and use the pieces as a guide for new patterns and parts specifications. (Ultimately, the vintage model was also reassembled and restored.) The Shasta RV team also found old design materials in their archives that helped.

Other employees also were eager to be a part of the special project. “Line workers worked weekends and after hours… stopping… starting – to make sure that when we walked out there, that it felt like a ‘61. There was a lot of trial and error,” Lucas said. He recalled one employee’s above-and-beyond attention to detail, “’That wing – if we move it down three inches – it will look better,’ he told me. It strikes a chord – employees are really proud that we’ve reissued this, too,” he said. “This was totally heart and soul.”

Interestingly, Lucas said, getting his hands on a vintage ‘61 Shasta in good shape took more effort than he expected. “It was hard to find one in restorable condition – either they are too far gone or already restored.” I believe this. Those canned ham Shastas: Everyone wants ‘em. Like Lucas said, they are iconic – they have ‘the look’ — and that 16’ length is kind of not too big, not too small, just right.

Creating “a 90% replica”

The goal for the anniversary project, Lucas said, was to create a new Shasta trailer out of new materials, but so faithful to the original that customers would “feel they’re in the ’61 – but with no concerns about usability, safety.”

The team has been very successful at meeting the goal, he said. He called the 2015 model a “90% replica,” so much so that “most of the new parts will fit into the old one.” The metal siding is even applied using circa-1961 methods (which are different than today’s) to ensure a water-tight seal given the design, he said.

shasta airflyte interiorshasta-trailer-4The interior has a retro diner feel. Interior features include:

  • Birch cabinet doors with chevron cabinet pulls; birch plywood elsewhere in the interior.
  • Countertops with dogbone-pattern Formica trimmed in polished aluminum edging. (Original Airflyte countertops were sparkle laminate with cracks; Lucas told me he tried to find this, but of course, we know you can’t get it any more!)
  • LED lighting reproduced to look like the original ’61 Shasta Airflyte gas lamp.
  • Jalousie windows!
  • Bench seating upholstered in two-tone, tuck-and-roll pleather with silver welt; red has a bit of an aged look.
  • Black-and-white checkerboard vinyl floor.
  • And you’ll notice – that reproduction birch Shasta magazine rack hanging on the wall!
  • Mechanicals – like the stove, microwave, toilet, shower – are new, but chosen to harmonize with the retro interior.
  • There’s even a speaker system – but it’s hidden from apparent view, Lucas said.

Exterior colors, painted to look just like the original:

  • Seafoam Green
  • Buttercup Yellow
  • Matador Red – the color from GM in 1961, Lucas said.

You can get one starting in September

That red baby we’re seeing in these photos is Job #1. “We’re building a turquoise and yellow this week,” Lucas said. “The first week of September, we’ll have full production. Each of our two production facilities will be making between 40 and 45 a day, to start, ramping up to 60 a day.” Production will continue until all the orders – up to 1,941 – are filled.

Lucas told me that RV dealers who have been carrying one or more of Shasta’s four current product lines will get priority in submitting orders for the 2015 models. “Shasta has been around for a long time – people who have been with us – we want to reward those dealers.” (Note, Lucas explained to me that unlike auto dealerships, RV dealers can carry any model from any manufacturer.)

A lot of dealers are already submitting orders, he said – which is also helping the company to tweak colors. To order one — head to Shasta RV’s website and use the Dealer Locator. 

Want to guess which color is in the lead? Which color would you choose?

The first completed models should start arriving at dealers around mid-September. Prices will include shipping costs from Indiana – that’s why the price can vary up to an expected $17,000. I worked in the auto industry for 17 years (go, Ford!), and know from experience that keeping prices for a project like this as low as $15,000 per unit sounds ambitious indeed. I really appreciate that Shasta RV and its people are working to keep the price accessible, in line with the midcentury all-American heritage of this product. Yup, “Shasta was always big on the value — everyman’s camper, that’s really what that is,” Lucas said.

Would the company consider extending the run – or making this a permanent addition to the product line? Lucas pretty much told me: No. “I think it takes away the specialness if we extend the run,” he said. Boo to the hoo. How about: Will we see some new, more retro-styled Shastas in the future? Like a good company executive, Lucas would not hint at future plans. Okay, I’ll take that as a ‘maybe’ — fingers crossed – bring on the retro!

How does Lucas feel about all this? We are having a great conversation. Lucas seems thrilled with how the 2015 model turned out and even gets – kinda gushy — which really impresses me. “It made me feel like I’m in mother’s kitchen, which is absolutely a place where I feel at home and loved.” Awwww. We understand.

He his wife have four children of their own now, and he says that he will be buying one of the 2015 Airflytes, for sure. “I’ll take it to the soccer games on Saturday – watch all four kids – hang out there all day — use it as base camp,” he said.

“I feel a huge responsibility to be at the helm of this brand name, which for a lot of people is tied to their childhood – to trips with their families to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon…. I want to honor the brand — don’t tarnish those memories – and make those memories again. That’s what I want my kids to remember.”

Link love:

Update: Where to get information about specifications etc.:

If you have any questions about specifications or delivery or any other such technical issue, Mark contributed this information (excerpted here) down in a comment on 9/23. I am excerpting it here to make it easier for buyers and potential buyers to spot, if they want or need further information. Note: Such questions will not be answered in our comments section, you need to go to the resources Mark identifies:

Hello all-

Thanks everyone for the overwhelming interest in the re-issue of the Shasta Airflyte. There is a lot of information swirling around concerning this product, and many of us are becoming concerned about the flow of ACCURATE information.

CURRENTLY, THERE ARE ONLY TWO SOURCES FOR THE LATEST AND MOST ACCURATE INFORMATION:

1. YOUR LOCAL DEALER – http://WWW.SHASTARVING.COM HAS A DEALER LOCATOR WHERE YOU CAN GET IN TOUCH WITH THE CLOSEST SHASTA DEALER

2. THE FACEBOOK GROUP: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/1961ShastaAirflyteReissuedin2015/

WHICH WAS NOT STARTED BY AND IS NOT MAINTAINED BY SHASTA, BUT RECEIVES FREQUENT UPDATES AND HAS SEVERAL DEALER MEMBERS

Again, I’d like to thank Pam and her group for the great article and getting everyone as enthused as she is about this great period in American design….

Thanks again to Pam. And within the next hour, an update will be posted to the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/1961ShastaAirflyteReissuedin2015/) concerning dry weight, awnings, grab handles, spare tires, the start of production and remaining units.

Mark Lucas
President/General Manager
Shasta RV

All material in this story copyright Retro Renovation 2014. 

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Newsletter-sign-up-2NMAS

Comments

  1. Rick says

    Thanks, Pam. I did just speak with Mark, the chief design engineer for this reissue at Shasta. The last trailer off the line weighed in at 2,340 lbs. He also informed me that he had an LED lighted assist/grab handle re-designed to match the original that came on the Airflyte and it will be on the coach. Fan is 12V and will swap out with a Fantastic fan without issues. No spare tire included (original did not include one either) and if one were to weld a carrier to the frame it would void the warranty from the frame manufacturer, which would be a standard CYA policy no matter what. He’s not saying don’t consider it, just letting me know what it does to the frame warranty. Hope this helps.

  2. mark lucas says

    Hello all-

    Thanks everyone for the overwhelming interest in the re-issue of the Shasta Airflyte. There is a lot of information swirling around concerning this product, and many of us are becoming concerned about the flow of ACCURATE information.

    CURRENTLY, THERE ARE ONLY TWO SOURCES FOR THE LATEST AND MOST ACCURATE INFORMATION.

    1. YOUR LOCAL DEALER – http://WWW.SHASTARVING.COM HAS A DEALER LOCATOR WHERE YOU CAN GET IN TOUCH WITH THE CLOSEST SHASTA DEALER

    2. THE FACEBOOK GROUP: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/1961ShastaAirflyteReissuedin2015/

    WHICH WAS NOT STARTED BY AND IS NOT MAINTAINED BY SHASTA, BUT RECEIVES FREQUENT UPDATES AND HAS SEVERAL DEALER MEMBERS

    Again, I’d like to thank Pam and her group for the great article and getting everyone as enthused as she is about this great period in American design.

    Going forward, please limit any comments on this story, to comments ABOUT THE STORY, and not as a discussion forum regarding the Shasta Re-issue.

    I understand the eagerness to gather information and make a wise buying decision, but your local dealer or the Facebook page are the appropriate methods, and in that order. I’m sure all of the questions have been or will be answered accurately through those channels.

    Thanks again to Pam. And within the next hour, an update will be posted to the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/1961ShastaAirflyteReissuedin2015/) concerning dry weight, awnings, grab handles, spare tires, the start of production and remaining units.

    Mark Lucas
    President/General Manager
    Shasta RV

    • pam kueber says

      Thanks, Mark, for posting this information! It’s great that buyers and potential buyers now have a place to gather to get the latest updates!

      I also really appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm and want to see lots of photos of all the perty new/old Shastas all decorated, once they are with their new owners! My only regret about this whole experience: DH says, “No! We do not need another toy.” phooey!

      • Kimberly Curry says

        Thank you Mark Lucas, and Mount Comfort team, for joining The Reissued Airflyte Shasta Club with us. It has been a pleasure to spread the excitement of this iconic Airflyte with others. We appreciate this adventure you have let us be on with you as the beautiful Reissue rolls out this month. This reissue is beautiful in every way I must say; as a vintage trailer lover, this is the best of both worlds. Vintage meets modern. Love it!

        • Damian says

          Hi Kimberly,

          I tried to join the Facebook group with no luck. I’ve requested to join several days ago with no response from the group as of yet. Thanks, Damian

          • Kimberly Curry says

            If your request to join the club was ignored then please see your inbox “other” folder , or pm me! We are screening our Reissue Club members the best we can by reviewing your profile to see what interest you have in the awesome Reissued Airflyte or your love for the iconic Shasta wings :)

            • ChaCha says

              I’m not on Facebook and refuse to join Facebook (there’s certain people I don’t want to find me). Is there any other way to get info (I’ve ordered a trailer but I know more than my dealer does!)?

              • Mark Lucas says

                Cha Cha-

                Dealerships are the preferred method, across the industry, for getting information to retail customers. I’m sorry your dealer was not more helpful. Are they, in fact, an Airflyte re-issue dealer? If you have a specific question your dealer cannot answer, you can call the factory and ask to speak to the sales Representative for your area. They may be able to answer your question or help you find a dealer who can better assist you.

                Almost all information about the campers is well documented in multiple places on the internet. The Facebook page is not the preferred choice, dealers are the best method to gather information.

                If you would you please let me know which dealer you have called, and I will make sure they have all the latest information.

                Thanks

                Mark Lucas
                President/General Manager
                Shasta RV

                • Cha Cha says

                  Mark, thank u so much for your concern. I’ve called Camping World in Houston Tx (Katy Tx) and am starting to worry they are not an Airflyte reissue dealer. But they took a sizeable down payment for one. Thanks again.

  3. Millicent Greene says

    I have my order placed! I’m SO excited. Wondering if I could have the dimensions on the windows? Gonna do some sewing. Thanks. Millicent Greene

    • pam kueber says

      Millicent, see in the comment thread the comment from Marc Lucas about where to go to get updates and specifications information.

      I am going to add an excerpt of his comment to story as well.

  4. pam kueber says

    Retro Renovation readers — or non RR-readers who have landed here with regards to that Facebook page: Please note: Here on this blog, I delete or simply do not approve comments that are not “civil” — as determined by moi.

    Seriously, this is not the place to duke out your issues relative to a Facebook page that has nothing to do with this site. Please stop. Thank you for your understanding.

  5. pam kueber says

    Update, peoples: I am going to delete all these comments about the FB group. The explanation of the FB group is explained by Mark Lucas in my main story.

    I am not keen on having this blog comment section be taken over as a place to resolve disagreements or what have you re that page. In the future, any such comments will be immediately deleted.

    Thank you for your understanding.

  6. AJ says

    Is there a show with the prototypes at the Country Living Fair at Stone Mountain this weekend? I want to see what I put my deposit on. My dealer says they will ship by the end of the year. He sent me a copy of a letter from Shasta. Wooo hoo!

  7. Kenny says

    Hi.. Just wondering what was used to insulate the reissues?
    If there is any “R ” value? Also, what was used to seal the the seams and windows? Thank You..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *