In early 2013, I reported on the launch of the Vistabule Teardrop Trailer, a model specifically designed for small car towing.
One year later, I reported that Minnesota Teardrop Trailer has sold 20 and is adding more employees to keep up with demand.
Today, Bert Taylor and his small staff continue to build sleek, compact, retro-style camper trailers from a workshop in Minneapolis’ warehouse district. His 3-year-old enterprise, Vistabule, is modest but growing; he built 12 campers last year and this year, his goal is 36.
Several years ago, a friend encouraged Taylor, then a furniture designer, to look up “teardrop campers” on the Internet. It changed his life.
“This was a scale I could work with,” Taylor told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
“These were basically the size of large pieces of furniture.”
Vistabule is a portmanteau word combining vista—drawn from the signature gaping window that affords its occupants ample views—and vestibule, suggestive of the cozy confines of the 5-foot-by-10-foot trailers.
“I wanted to take the cave on wheels and turn it into an observatory on wheels,” he added.
Originally, Taylor had been interested in campers for two reasons. He wanted to buy one because he appreciated the design of vintage models like Airstream and he figured as he aged he’d appreciate a camper more than a tent. The second was that he wanted inspiration for designing furniture.
When that friend told him to research teardrop campers—small trailers that offer a place to sleep out of the elements but don’t attempt to offer living rooms, showers, and other amenities of full-size recreational vehicles—it inspired him to try to build one himself. Just for fun.
He purchased plans and started to build one, but his propensity for design improvement got in the way.
“I realized this was the work of an amateur,” Taylor told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
“It might have been good for the trailer he wanted, but not for the one I wanted. It was claustrophobic. I knew I could do better.”
The creation he eventually built in 2011 was a head-turner. When asked to described the genre, he uses word like “iconic,” “from the 1930s and ’40s,” “nautical” and “vintage UFO.”
“We took it to the Grand Canyon, and the response we got was unbelievable,” he said.
“Everyone wanted to talk to us and look inside.”
Teardrop trailers are a niche at the tiny end of the camper trailer continuum. But they have a devoted following. The premise is a level of comfort, but a compactness that makes for storage in any garage and lightness—Vistabules are lighter than 1,300 pounds and can be towed by most cars.
Each trailer is custom made to your order. To simplify the process, Vistabule offers two packages from which to start—basic ($13,865) and standard ($14,896).
A variety of add-on features are available. These include an air conditioner, refrigerator, solar panels retrofit, LED light package, gray tinted windows, and heater.
Taylor said he’s constantly tinkering with improving the design and functionality. Door and window latches, for example, are custom made.
As for the basic shape, the curves and the feel, he believes he accomplished what he set out to do.
Vistabule specifications include:
Body Length: 10 feet
Total Length: 14 feet
Body Width: 5 feet
Width with Fenders: 6 feet 10 inches
Height From Ground to the Top of Fan Cover: 67 inches
Interior Cabin Height: 43 inches
Under the Floor Storage and Foot Room: 6.5 inches
Main Bed Size: 58 inches x 78 inches
Weight Approximate (empty): 1240 pounds
Weight Approximate (gear, propane, and water): 1520 pounds
Tongue Weight: 160 pounds
Tongue Weight with 15 pound Propane Tank: 180 pounds
Road Clearance: 11 inches
Galley Counter Height: 34 inches
Wheels: 14 inches
Water Tank: 6 gallons
Gray Water Storage Tank: 6 gallon
Minnesota Teardrop Trailers LLC
Phone: (612) 845-4210
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.