Jetstream Teardrop Trailers may not have invented the teardrop trailer, but they’re certainly responsible for reviving the concept in South Africa. Back in the ‘30s and ‘40s the little egg-shaped caravans took the USA by storm, with “tin pot tourists” in often-homemade teardrop trailers enjoying the benefits of owning a comfortable, easy-towing little home away from home. The design was described in one 1937 magazine article as the “ideal outdoorsman’s trailer”, but in the March/April 1939 edition of Popular Homecraft magazine, a fellow called Hi Sibley obviously had his sights set elsewhere when he gave a detailed breakdown of how he built his own Teardrop “Honeymoon House Trailer” for just $60, using the axle and mudguards from a 1926 Chevrolet, along with lots of scrap wood. One has to wonder how his soon-to-be wife felt about him preparing for the nuptials by building what was in effect a large bed on wheels with an outside bar attached.
While caravans in general grew bigger and bigger, teardrops stayed popular for decades because they were light, easy to tow by the smallest of vehicles, and didn’t make too much difference to performance or fuel consumption. There was little or no setup involved when the users arrived at their destinations, and they could be easily stowed away in an ordinary garage when not in use.
All of those attributes are still relevant today, and four years ago Durban businessman Barry Olivier set about building his own teardrop trailer using a marine ply body on an old trailer chassis. When he finished his prototype, called Marilyn, it attracted so much favourable attention wherever he went that he formed Jetstream Teardrop Trailers SA to build and market them in marine fibreglass.