Originally Posted by mello mike
I always wondered about this and never got a good answer. My Sovereign
has emblems and plates stating it is an International Land Yacht. I thought all Airstreams were Land Yachts, but the service manual has separate layouts for Internationals and Land Yachts. What makes an Airstream Sovereign an International? Or are they all Internationals? Confusing to say the least.
The meaning of "Land Yacht" and "International" varied over the years, so to learn what those names meant for a particular year one really needs to read the sales literature for that year.
From about 1958
to let's say 1968
, those names described trim level. In 1958
, the "standard" or base model Airstream trailer had all 120 volt AC appliances so had to be plugged in at a campground to be functional. The "Land Yacht" option replaced those with propane appliances and added 12 volt
electric system and a black water tank that allowed for self-contained camping. The "International" trailer was a "Land Yacht" that also had the "International" top-of-the-line package, so it was self-contained but had better upholstery and extra options in the package (scare light, TV antenna, larger propane tanks, etc.) Specific options could be added to any trailer if it was not included in the upgrade packages. Since the packages were cumulative, the "International" was properly an "International Land Yacht" although the badging was sometimes shortened to just "International" on the exterior.
, the "standard" trailer was discontinued and the "Land Yacht" became the new base model, meaning all Airstreams were then self-contained with propane appliances and black water tanks.
Now, I'm not familiar with 1969 and later trailers, so will not generalize about that decade. But I will answer your question for the 1971 model year.
For 1971, the "Land Yacht" series described the shorter trailers, the 21' Globetrotter, 23' Safari and 25' Tradewind. These all had a number of then standard features.
For 1971, the "International Land Yacht" series described the longer trailers, the 27' Overlander, 29' Ambassador and 31' Sovereign. These trailers "represented the ultimate in regular production trailer completeness and luxury" and had much more additional equipment beyond that included in the "Land Yacht" trailers. A few examples include: dual 7 gallon gas bottles (vs. 5 gallon), automatic switchover gas regulator (vs. manual), central control panel, two Solardome vents, range and ceiling exhaust fans, two sinks covers with cutting boards on the reverse side, Everpure water filter, 10 gallon water heater (vs. 7 gallon), better hubcaps, entrance light, polyester carpet (vs. nylon), and so forth. The 1971 catalog lists all the differences, too long to completely type here.
By 1971, Airstream was moving away from shorter trailers so offered better option packages only in the longer trailers, which likely had a better profit margin. In some earlier years, a customer could order the "International Land Yacht" package on any size trailer but Airstream might have lost money making such a trailer, so it eventually limited package availability. In 1958
, Airstream built an International 16' Bubble to order and reportedly lost money on the deal. Hope this helps a bit.