Gone Outdoors

How to Research Airstream Travel Trailers by Their Number

by Lea Miller

Airstream has been building aluminum travel trailers since the 1930s. The trailers' distinctive rounded shape minimized wind resistance and made them more stable while being towed. The serial number or vehicle identification number (VIN) of an Airstream trailer provides information about its place of manufacture, body style, size and model year. The serial number is stamped into the A-frame of the trailer just behind the hitch. In some models there is also a plate affixed to the side of the trailer near the main door.

Identification Numbers for 1966

1. Locate and write down the eight-digit serial number from the A-frame.

2. Read the digit in the first position to determine if it is an "S," indicating manufacture in California, or a "J," indicating manufacture in Jackson Center, Ohio. Read the digit in the second position to determine if it is an "O," indicating an Overlander model, or an "I," indicating an International model.

3. Read the digits in the third and fourth positions to see the length in feet. Read the digit in the fifth position to identify the model year, where "6" represents 1966. Read the digits in the sixth, seventh and eighth positions to identify double-bed models with a number over 500 and twin-bed models with a number under 500.

Identification Numbers for 1967 and 1968

1. Locate and write down the eight-digit serial number from the A-frame.

2. Read the digit in the first position to determine if it is an "O," indicating an Overlander model, or an "I," indicating an International model. Read the digits in the second and third positions to see the length in feet. Read the digit in the fourth position to identify the model year, where "7" represents 1967 and "8" represents 1968.

3. Read the digit in the fifth position to determine if it is an "S," indicating manufacture in California, or a "J," indicating manufacture in Jackson Center, Ohio. Read the digits in the sixth, seventh and eighth positions to identify double-bed models with a number over 500 and twin-bed models with a number under 500.

Identification Numbers for 1969 to 1980

1. Locate and write down the nine- or 10-digit serial number from the A-frame.

2. Read the digit in the first position to determine if it is an "I," indicating an International model, an "E," indicating an Excella model, or an "L," indicating a Land Yacht model. Read the digits in the second and third positions to see the length in feet. Read the digit in the fourth position to see a code for the floor plan, detailed on the Airstream publication listed in the References section.

3. Read the digit in the fifth position to identify the final digit of the model year. Read the digit in the sixth position to determine if it is an "S," indicating manufacture in California, or a "J," indicating manufacture in Jackson Center, Ohio. Read the final three digits to identify a unit built in the 1960s or four digits to identify a unit built in the 1970s.

Identification Numbers After 1980

1. Locate and write down the 17-digit VIN number.

2. Read the digits in the first through third positions to identify the make, model and type of unit. Read the digits in the fourth through eighth positions to identify the type of trailer, series, body type, length and axle configuration. Read the digit in the 10th position to identify the model year.These codes are detailed on the Airstream publication listed in the References section.

3. Read the digit in the 11th position to identify the location of manufacture, a "J" representing Jackson Center, Ohio. Read the 12th through 17th digits to identify the unit's sequential production number. The digit in the ninth position is a check digit used to validate the VIN number.

About the Author

Lea Miller has been writing for business since 1980. As a former division controller and operations manager, she has experience in finance, accounting and business management. After a 25-year corporate career, she became a scuba-diving instructor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of South Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Streamlined Motor Homes image by K. Geijer from Fotolia.com