They first appeared in the 1930s, when cars lacked much towing power. Their popularity faded in the 1960s, when cheap gas and mightier engines prompted a camper and RV trend. But now, light and aerodynamic — not to mention head-turning — teardrop trailers are back. "Society is trying to become more simplistic. It's like the [TV] shows on tiny houses," says Keith Riley of General RV in Canton, Ohio. "Older folks in particular are trying to simplify and scale back."
According to Mark Hagen at Little Guy Trailers in San Diego, the typical buyer is a couple of years away from retirement and often has roots in camping. That's because — while teardrops have a comfortable bed inside — you really live outside.
The units, which are typically 14 or 15 feet long, flip open in the back, revealing a kitchen for gourmet outdoor cooking. Little Guy Worldwide, a top manufacturer of these trailers, has seen sales more than triple in the past four years.
Teardrops range from $500 for a build-your-own kit to $20,000 for a fully loaded luxury unit with air-conditioning and an entertainment center. Plenty of options exist in between. And the best part is the social aspect: There is an active teardrop-trailer community, with more than 50 clubs of enthusiasts around the country.