By Gloria Young, Auburn Journal.
The economy has influenced all facets of daily life and occasionally in a good way.
Teardrop trailers, around since the 1930s, are seeing a boom in popularity.
In Auburn, American River Sales has sold American Teardrops for 10 years and recently began manufacturing them in response to increased demand, according to general manager Bud Hausman.
“We can’t build them fast enough,” he said.
The teardrop is designed for convenience.
“It can be towed behind any car, including electric cars,” Hausman said. “They’re super lightweight. They’re the RV for the next generation.”
The trailers have been increasing in popularity for the last 15 years, “with the last two years seeing the biggest growth we’ve ever seen,” he said.
The demographic is just about everyone who enjoys the outdoors.
“Because of high gas prices, people don’t want a second high-mileage vehicle,” Hausman said. “They want to have their car and go on vacation.”
Teardrops offer a no-to-low frills experience.
“People love camping, but no one wants to sleep on the ground,” he said. “When they walk away, they want to be able to lock up all the gear inside.”
The original teardrop design appeared in the 1930s. Then in 1944, Popular Mechanics ran an article on how to build one at home, according to Hausman.
“The unit we build is a pretty close replica of those 1940s units, using modern-day materials,” he said.
The average size of the trailer is 5 feet by 8 feet. There are windows on both sides and a door on one side. American River’s basic models range from $3,995 to $5,995.
You get the base model and then you outfit it the way you want. Among the options are air conditioning, pullout kitchen and mattresses.
“If you added every option, the unit would still be about $8,000,” Hausman said.
The Auburn store geared up its manufacturing site earlier this summer. Prior to that, the teardrops were all made at American Teardrop headquarters in Elkhart, Ind.
“This past year, we decided to open a factory here to cut down shipping costs,” Hausman said.
On Nov. 1, the factory is moving to a new, larger location at the corner of Borland Avenue and Lincoln Way. Hausman said he expects to add another six to 10 jobs to the already six jobs created when the plant is fully up and running.
American Teardrop is only one of numerous brands that make the teardrop trailer. But most are custom-design manufacturers that turn out a few units a year and charge much more for their product, Hausman explained.
“It’s becoming so popular that big companies are coming out with mini-models to compete with teardrops because they know that’s where the market is growing,” he said.
American River Sales will have one of its teardrop trailers at this weekend’s Vintage Trailer Classic show in Old Town Auburn.
Gary Moffat, owner of Carpe Vino and organizer of the show, will have a 1937 model on display along with American River’s new model.
“(I thought) wouldn’t it be fun to see one of the new ones side by side (with the 1937 edition) to see how it evolved over the years,” Moffat said. “But, in fact, there hasn’t been much change.”
Moffat has become a vintage trailer enthusiast after purchasing a 1972 Airstream Globe Trotter a year ago. He took his idea for the show to the Old Town Business Association, which signed on as a sponsor.
“An interesting fact after we started this show is that this year is the 100th anniversary of the RV industry,” he said. “The first RV was built in 1910. When it started out, people built these things themselves.”
Moffat got acquainted with American River Sales as he was coordinating the show.
“I love what those guys are doing,” he said. “They’re creating jobs in Auburn and they’re doing something innovative in a tough market.”
American River Sales
Sales and rentals of the American Teardrop trailer
13230 Lincoln Way, Auburn
Phone: (530) 889-2762
Old Town Vintage Trailer Classic
When: 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26
Where: Jurors parking lot, Auburn Folsom Road and Lincoln Way, Old Town Auburn