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 ‘30’s and ‘40’s, 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 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 in 2011, 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 to build and market them in marine fibreglass.
As far as a weekender goes, the Jetstream was an absolute pleasure to tow. The Classic made easy work of the dirt roads and even some cattle tracks we encountered.The van is exceptionally well insulated and sleeping space well thought out. The kitchen is well equipped and we had no trouble cooking and feeding four people on the fly. I was impressed with the fact that even though we literally abused the van in this rough terrain, there were no rattles and nothing parted ways with its original mounting position. A worthy investment for the weekend warrior or sportsman.Schalk Faber / Technical Manager, Penetron SA, Customer
I write regarding the letter about teardrop trailers in the February edition of Caravan & Outdoor Life.I am now 64 years old and have had a Jetstream Teardrop for more than four years. I have traveled extensively in it and never found it wanting. I’ve been to Botswana and Namibia several times, with the longest trip being just over three weeks.I don’t view my “Foxy” (each one gets a nickname of the buyer’s choice) as a weekender at all! I do have a large bow gazebo just like the one you used on your trip, but I have the three sides so I can block off and have privacy if needed. I’ve also added a tow hitch for a small inflatable boat or trailer and inside net doors to both sides. I love it because it’s just like having the tent feel with the luxury of the double bed. I can’t sleep with the doors closed.
I am no muscle man, but I have found Foxy to be very easy to move around and get into position exactly where I want it to be, even when alone. Hooking up to a vehicle is a dream. I normally use my Nissan NP200 bakkie; it tows very easily and my fuel consumption hovers between 12.5 and 13.5l/100km. Cruising at 120km/h is no problem if you’re in a hurry.
The outdoor kitchen is not a problem, if you put the caravan inside the gazebo as opposed to alongside it.I have had bigger caravans, including an Exclusive, but the teardrop is used at least once a month and gives me all the experience I like of being outdoors very comfortably. So my response to the initial question is: Go for it!Stephen Fox, Customer
After seeing this wonderful product at one of the shows, I was very keen to purchace the Jetstream Teardrop Trailer. After experiencing ongoing problems with my existing caravan with the dreaded wood rot, I had just about had enough! I contacted Barry Olivier and informed him that I was very interested in his new range of Jetstream Teardrop Trailers. After meeting with Barry at his factory, he explained the entire concept and even gave me a tour of his manufacturing process at the factory. After our meeting, Barry kindly offered me his loan unit to test out first and offered any extras that I may need with the various options. I could not believe what I was hearing and after spending a weekend in the Berg, my mind was made up and I purchased my new Jetstream Classic and so far we have taken this incredible unit out every month after joining the Midlands Rally Club.Llew van Wyk, Customer