By Chuck Woodbury
Before I owned my first motorhome, I briefly owned a Teardrop trailer. I was in college, and had dreams of touring the country with the little recreational vehicle. My small Toyota, I reasoned, would pull the Teardrop, but nothing bigger.
Alas, I never took the trip, and I sold my Teardrop a year later. It needed a lot of work, and I am a terribly unhandy guy. But what a neat little “camper” it was — complete with its interior double bed, single lightbulb and a flip-up backside that revealed a kitchen that could be as basic or extravagant as the owner wished. A college buddy of mine, who was very handy, had also purchased a Teardrop which he restored into a mini-palace of mobile elegance. He inspired me.
The trailer got its name from its teardrop shape and streamlined design. The March/April 1939 issue of Popular Homecraft ran a story and plans for a teardrop designed and built in the 1930s by Louis Rogers of Pasadena, California, for his honeymoon coach.
Teardrops trailers may be the only RVs to experience combat
The “true” Teardrops evolved after World War II using surplus aircraft aluminum from the wings of World War II bombers. Wheels, at least some, were from Jeeps salvaged from sunken ships, some with bullet holes. These first Teardrops are perhaps the only RVs ever made that experienced actual combat.
A Teardrop trailer can accommodate two people. The most common one has an aluminum skin covering a plywood frame, weighs 750 pounds and is 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet.
Depending on the model, it includes a queen- or full-sized bed. The sleeping cabin is hard-sided and doesn’t need to be popped open like a pop-up trailer. The cabin can serve double-duty as a cargo area during travel. The typical floor is the same size as a standard piece of plywood (there was no room for waste in early models). You cannot stand up inside a Teardrop trailer as they are generally about four feet high.
The kitchen is accessed from the outside rear by raising the back hatch of the trailer much like opening a car trunk. There is room for an ice chest, portable stove and a basic set of pots, pans, cooking utensils and some food. Today’s Teardrop-type trailers often have built-in stoves and refrigerators.
Some Teardrop-type trailers are sold today as kits to build yourself. Many small manufacturers still make such RVs, which are popular because they can be pulled behind small cars and even motorcycles. Some of the models are far more sophisticated than the early ones. About the only amenities they lack are bathrooms with showers.