Testing an Airstream in the Arctic

It’s not unusual for auto engineers to test their vehicles in the arctic.

Testing an Airstream in the Arctic
Testing an Airstream in the Arctic

The frigid temperatures and slippery conditions offer a great opportunity to put a future product through its paces.

But the models aren’t usually hauling a travel trailer.

Land Rover recently teamed up with Airstream on an adventure to the Arctic Circle to demonstrate the capabilities of the new Range Rover Sport Hybrid.

The world’s first premium diesel hybrid towed the 27-foot-long Airstream travel trailer 2,500 miles to Land Rover’s cold-weather test centre in Arjeplog, Sweden, then on to the Arctic Circle.

In a dramatic real world test of the vehicle’s capability, the car was towing the Airstream through some of the worst winter weather Scandinavia has experienced in living memory, according to a company news release.

Gales, record snow depths, and freak icy road conditions tested crew, car, and trailer to the extreme.

Testing an Airstream in the Arctic
Testing an Airstream in the Arctic

More European Airstream owners choose Land Rover products to tow their ‘silver bullets’ than cars from any other manufacturer so the Range Rover Sport Hybrid and Airstream made an excellent match, according to the release.

Setting off from Land Rover’s Design and Engineering Centre at Gaydon in the English Midlands, the team headed to Mengerskirchen in Germany, where a specially winterized version of the shiny, aluminum 684 model travel trailer was waiting for them at Airstream Europe’s headquarters.

Top of Airstream’s European range of trailers, the 684 is 27 feet of boutique hotel suite on wheels, with two double beds, satellite television, and Corian surfaces in both its fully-equipped kitchen and spacious bathroom. It sure beats camping outside in the arctic.

Once the team had packed their gear on board, the Airstream weighed in at more than 5,510 pounds. For the Range Rover Sport Hybrid, that sort of weight proved no problem, whatever the weather did.

From Germany, the team set a course for Land Rover’s test center in Arjeplog, Sweden, and the journey covered a total of over 2,500 miles.

En route, Land Rover reports the team was buffeted by gale-force side winds, the tail end of Hurricane Ole, when crossing the five-mile-long Øresund Bridge and saw temperatures drop to -8 degrees Fahrenheit. Still, the rig and its custom camper eventually arrived at their chilly destination.

Testing an Airstream in the Arctic
Testing an Airstream in the Arctic

Off-road, the car proved its worth too, repeatedly pulling the trailer up and down snowy and often dangerously icy hills, and along forest tracks without fuss.

“We were closely watching the long range weather forecasts before we set off but nothing prepared us for how bad it got,” said team leader, Ben Samuelson.

“However, time after time, it was only as we got out of the car that we realized quite how treacherous it was outside.”

Further north, as temperatures continued to plummeted, both the vehicle and the trailer’s cold-climate capability and comfort ensured that driver, passengers, and indeed those cooking and sleeping in the trailer each evening, experienced nothing but unruffled luxury.

The demanding cold-weather facility at Arjeplog in northern Sweden is the winter proving ground for the full range of Land Rover’s all-terrain vehicles.

For four months every year, the company’s corps of engineers pitch vehicles to their limits against extreme winter conditions with temperatures which have been known to reach -39 degrees in daytime, but can plummet as low as -42 degrees overnight.

“The Range Rover Sport Hybrid has gone through the same grueling test and development regime that all our cars do,” said Phil Talboys, Arjeplog test facility manager.

“This journey just goes to show that the Range Rover Sport Hybrid is pure hybrid—with all the capability and versatility that you’d expect from a Land Rover.”

Testing an Airstream in the Arctic
Testing an Airstream in the Arctic

The same can be said of the Airstream family of travel trailers.

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band, I saw a needle that winked its eye. But I think I will have seen everything When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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Range Rover Tows Airstream to Africa & Back

To demonstrate the towing ability of the all-new Range Rover, Land Rover teamed up with an American icon to take part in the ultimate road-trip to one of the highest points in Africa.

The 250kW, 700Nm Range Rover SDV8 pulls the Airstream.
The 250kW, 700Nm Range Rover SDV8 pulls the Airstream.

According to Land Rover, more European Airstream owners choose Land Rover products to tow their “silver bullets” than cars from any other manufacturer so all-new Range Rover and Airstream made for an appropriate pairing.

With a newly launched Airstream 684 Series 2 travel trailer hitched to its electrically deployable tow bar, a Range Rover Autobiography with the 339PS SDV8 engine was chosen for the challenge—to drive from the English Lake District, to the top of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco—and back.

The journey started at the factory where Airstream finishes its European-specification caravans in Tebay and went to Oukaïmeden, the highest ski resort in Africa.

En route, it visited Land Rover’s factory in Solihull, Frank Gehry’s amazing aluminium Marques de Riscal building in the Spanish wine region of Rioja, the beach near Casablanca, the desert outside Chichaoua, and the race track at Marrakesh, where Land Rover was based for the launch of the new model.

Often on the move for more than 12 hours a day on every type of road imaginable—from the empty motorways of Spain to the precipitous hairpins of the High Atlas—the all-new Range Rover coped imperiously with the challenge of towing a 5,291 pound (2,399 kg) Airstream 3,676 miles in just 11 days, according to the Land Rover blog.

Ben Samuelson, whose firm Samuelson Wylie Associates planned and executed the trip, was impressed by the new car.

Parked at the aluminum Marques de Riscal, designed by Frank Gehry, in Rioja.
Parked at the aluminum Marques de Riscal, designed by Frank Gehry, in Rioja.

“The new Range Rover’s towing ability is nothing short of stunning. It pulled the two and a half ton Airstream like it simply wasn’t there.

“It didn’t matter what we, or the weather, threw at it—it just did the job we asked of it without question, while truly cosseting us with its extraordinary luxury and refinement. Half way through Spain, we encountered horrendous side winds, the type that sees articulated trucks tipped onto their side, but the Range Rover’s Trailer Stability Assist meant that any sway in the trailer was dealt with before it ever started.

“And mountains. What mountains? With 700 NM of torque from that mighty V8 diesel at our disposal, there wasn’t an incline that slowed us down at all.

“What was possibly even more impressive was the way that, even after repeated 12 hour driving days, we’d step up into that exquisite cabin in the morning and still appreciate its sense of occasion.”

According to the blog, the overnight stays were no less luxurious.

“You can compare the Airstream to a boutique hotel—albeit a mobile one—and taking this combination of rig on your travels injects some serious style and comfort, Samuelson said.

“The moment that really summed up the magic of a journey like this was waking up in the Airstream on a sunny morning next to the beach just outside Casablanca—only a few days after towing it down a crowded British motorway through typically dismal autumnal British weather.

The High Atlas is no place for sissies. If you look carefully you can see the Range Rover and Airstream trailer in the hairpin bend.
The High Atlas is no place for sissies. If you look carefully you can see the Range Rover and Airstream trailer in the hairpin bend.

“A hot shower was followed by breakfast rustled up in a luxurious Corian-worktopped kitchen and that morning’s Times newspaper downloaded onto the iPad via the Airstream’s satellite broadband. I think we proved that luxury and adventure are not mutually exclusive.

“Travelling doesn’t get a lot better than that.”

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
I saw a needle that winked its eye.
But I think I will have seen everything
When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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