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.
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.
The next trailer appeared on an eBay auction a few years ago, and is shown full of 2 gallon fuel cans.
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.
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.
Circa 1929 Eccles trailer.
In 2020, a rescue mission was mounted to retrieve a wonderfully-original vintage trailer from deepest darkest Dartford. Due to a property downsize by its Alvis-owning keeper, this Eccles was destined for the skip as there was no room for it at the new home. The trailer's owner was keen for the trailer to find a home, he'd owned it since the 1970s and, recognising its rarity, had looked after it well, even to the extent of carefully cleaning and varnishing over the original Eccles of Birmingham transfer on its offside front side panel. He hung a wooden lightboard on the back, being careful not to drill any fresh holes, and (fortunately) kept the old single bracket that would have held a Rubbolite lamp. Amazingly, an enquiry sent to Eccles' head office in 1979 resulted in an original, 1929, brochure landing on his doorstep, which remains with the trailer today and features this exact model within it. More details on this rare survivor and its period brochure are now on the Eccles trailer page.
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.