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Homepage. This page: Old car trailers, and why I like them.

Vintage and classic car trailers.

As well as a perhaps unhealthy interest in rescuing old cars, and the assorted clutter that this usually entails, I have more than a passing admiration for the collecting of old car trailers. Not trailers that can move a car necessarily, but the type of trailer you hitch on to the back of a car to move things around.

There is something pleasing to the eye I think, when you see a classic or vintage car at a show or out on the road, that has a period trailer hitched onto the back. No shiny stainless steel job straight from the pages of a Halfords catalogue (assuming such publications exist), but a proper wood and steel creation, perhaps still running on spoked or 'Easiclean' solid wheels. Nice curved steel mudguards (no plastic), old knobbly tyres from manufacturers long since banished to the history books, and a gentle air of quiet rickety-ness that a proper old trailer only gets with the passing of several decades, are all bonuses.

I think this strange interest in trailers stems from an earlier dabble at owning a classic caravan, in my case a bizarre folding affair, built by Portafold in 1959/1960. With its fibreglass construction, fins on the roof, and compact proportions, it opened my eyes to the delights of strange shaped objects that can be towed behind a car. This was later followed by a Wessex folding caravan, and a very odd homebuilt caravan from the 1940s. More pages relating to old caravans can be found here.

So, this interest in curious caravans led to me keeping my eye open for an interesting trailer, or two, or three...

Old trailers I've owned.

Racing car trailer.

old trailer used to carry a racing car
The first trailer I stumbled across entirely by accident, when it came with an old Dodge lorry.

The trailer in question was built prior to WW2, and was used to carry a racing MG (K3 I think) to events during the 1930s. After the war, it was widened, lost its knock-on wire wheels (shame), and gained a moderately-aerodynamic canopy.

It was used up until the mid '50s to transport a '30s Alfa racing car, hitched on the back of aforementioned lorry. The owner would occasionally do races for Aston and Connaught, so his own Alfa would be transported in the trailer, while the more recent car would enjoy a cosier ride in the back of the truck. The top canopy was constructed entirely from aluminium, and offered some protection to its inhabitant. It was tested (presumably on an old runway somewhere) to 97mph, so was more than capable of running behind the lorry pulling it.

It has survived remarkably well and is complete with its home-made winch (internals are a crownwheel and pinion from pre-ww2 racing MG), corner steadies, canopy, hitch, and even the remnants of a canvas cover at either end of the trailer. The rubber mudguards have survived in reasonable condition too. The only downside to this tubular-chassis'd trailer is its immense weight - ok for the back of a heavy lorry, but a bit of a nightmare to move behind a normal road car. Period photos and the full story of this trailer, may now be found here: Poore's high-speed racing car trailer.

Pratt's trailer.

The next trailer appeared on an eBay auction a few years ago, and is shown full of 2 gallon fuel cans.
vintage Pratts trailer on spoked wire wheels, found on ebay

It's a lightweight "Pratt's" trailer, built from wood on top of a small steel chassis, dating to the 1930s. The wheels are spoked, and held on with nuts hiding behind tiny knock-on spinners. It has a manufacturer's plaque screwed onto one side at the rear (built by a firmed headed by a Mr K.H. Pratt, from Northallerton). I left a bid, thinking that it probably wouldn't be enough. To my amazement it was, and my brother and I tootled down to Leighton Buzzard to collect it.

livestock trailer based on Austin 7

Small livestock trailer.

A couple of years later, I was offered a small livestock trailer, also from the 1930s. The asking price was a bit steeper than I wanted to pay, so reluctantly I didn't pursue it. A little while later the owner contacted me again, saying that they needed the space, and it'd be going to the tip if I didn't buy it for a nominal sum. That was enough for me, so I shot over there with my normal garden trailer and brought the oldie home on the back of it. It was a neat example, based on an Austin 7 axle and 19" wheels. It needed rubbing down and a re-varnish, and was later sold to someone looking for a trailer to put behind their Austin 7 Chummy.

Not everyone at OCC HQ understands my fascination with these two-wheeled creations, but I think they are great and often overlooked in the world of preservation. If you've got a restored car, don't ruin it by hanging a modern trailer on the towbar. Hunt down a classic trailer instead, give it a lick of paint as and when required, store it in the dry, and you'll have a great little combination when you attend shows and so on.

Tasker's lightweight trailer.

In 2015, news of another ancient trailer that needing rescuing surfaced. Similar in appearance to the aforementioned Pratt's two-wheeler, this is also in very tidy condition, although at some point an army of woodworm set up camp within its planking. Despite this, for the timebeing it'll be left "as is". Not only does it still sport a one-off, home-made, trailer "T" plate on its drop-down tailgate, it also has both a supplying dealer's plaque (Thames Trailers Ltd, Princes Risborough), and another for of its manufacturer (Tasker's of Andover). Taskers are perhaps better known for their lorry trailers.

The hitch is a type I've not seen before, by Leasons of Manchester. A catalogue for this firm also features on OCC, the link to which is further down this page. I'm looking for a replacement knock-on wheel spinner, if anyone has one or two they don't need.

Vintage trailer produced by Taskers of Andover
Rear view of the Taskers trailer
Taskers badge
Leason trailer hitch

Some people go one step further and make their own trailers, often from the back ends of cars they like. I've seen a Mini towing the back end of a Mini that had been cut down and adapted into a trailer. Other similar contraptions appear for sale from time to time, and make for an interesting talking point at any show they go to. If you've got any car-derived trailer photos, I'd love to feature them on here. A while ago I discovered two superb photos of a vintage Vauxhall tourer towing a wooden boat on a purpose-built trailer, they can be found on this page, in the photograph section.

More interesting trailer-related articles and information.

Here are some more photographs, brochures & pictures that relate to old trailers.
(if you want some tips on how to tow large car trailers, have a look at this trailer towing article)

Pratt trailers In 2012 I was lucky enough to be sent an original sales catalogue, describing the trailers produced by the Pratt Engineering Company of Northallerton, details from which can now be found on the Pratt Trailer page.
Vintage Leason trailers Nick kindly scanned and emailed over 27 pages from a Leason trailer catalogue dating to 1937. These have now been arranged and edited, and are now featured here at oldclassiccar. To read more about the catalogue, and the products that were on offer, have a look at the 1937 Leason Trailers page.
Pre-war Dixon-Bate trailers Another of Nick's scans now, showing the pages of a Dixon-Bate trailer catalogue from the 1930s. It features various trailers designed to be towed behind private motorcars, ranging from a 4cwt lightweight model, through to the heavy 18/20cwt trailer. See them in the 1937 Dixon-Bate Trailers catalogue, plus a 1940 ad showing the wartime ARP "Rescue Party" trailer.
Scooter trailer This great photo also features in my period photo section, but as its such a great pic I put it here too! It shows a mobile demonstration unit, or trailer to you and me, built to transport an Aermacchi/Harley Davidson scooter. It is shown here attached to the back of a 1950s Hillman Minx. Note the nice period triangular reflector screwed on the back of the enclosed trailer. The wooden construction is very reminiscent of period woodie bodywork.
Eccles' range of car trailers From the 1920s is this great scan taken from original Eccles Caravan & Trailer promotional literature (thanks Les). Various open and enclosed car trailers were sold by Eccles. The models shown are the basic open trailer, the canvas covered luggage version, and the boat trailer.
Eccles' wind-up caravans Photos of a surviving wind-up Eccles trailer caravan are featured in the classic caravans section of oldclassiccar. The scan here comes from the same sales catalogue as that shown above, which is why I've included it here. These wind-up caravans, raised by winding a handle under the front of the chassis, are an amazing machine and survivors are very thin on the ground.
The ACP aluminium trailer There can't be too many Aero Caravan Products Ltd (ACP Ltd) aluminium trailers still around - read about them on this page: The ACP Ltd "Aero" trailer.
Curious military? trailer Oliver got in touch, wondering if anyone knew more about this trailer, sat on Ford Pop rims, that he sold recently .. "It was brought in the 1960s as a mobile farm workshop, but i think it was used in the military a good few years before because of the paintwork - it looks camouflage - and also has a wierd bullet hole in it. I have also seen a similar - possible the same trailer pictured in a background of a picture in a magazine - The picture dated from the 1920s. It also has two of the original tyres - India Tyre & Rubber Company LTD)"
Livestock trailer Another interesting pair of photos from George, a regular contributor to the site (thanks!). The first photo shows his father towing an early trailer .. "My brother sent me a copy of an old photo he found this last week, of me in the yard and my Dad driving our old Trusty Tractor (now in a Bristol Farming museum), towing the old livestock trailer I restored a few years back. Its so nice having such an early photo, I knew we had it for some years but wasn't sure how long. This must have been about 1958 or 59."
Restored trailer George sent in this photo showing the restored trailer, hitched to the back of his Austin A40 .. "I am so glad I saved it now, it was in a dangerously rusted state and nearly scrapped in 1997. My Dad told me it was built in the 1940's but I dont know where it came from originally."

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