Minneapolis RV-maker offers room with a view

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 5, 2014 - 9:38 AM

Bert Taylor, 62, of Minneapolis, has taken the teardrop trailer to a whole new level.

When it comes to camping, one size doesn’t fit all.

Options range from a sparse tent to a spacious 42-foot luxury motorhome with kitchen and big-screen TV — and everything in between.

On that scale, Bert Taylor’s tiny teardrop-shaped Vistabule camper trailers are at the minuscule end. Exactly where he wants to be.

His rig, in fact, might be the smallest recreational vehicle at the Minneapolis-St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show, which opens Thursday at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

At only 10 feet long and 5 feet wide, several would fit inside some large RVs. But beauty — like practicality and affordability — is in the eye of the beholder.

“Some RVers want to take the comforts of home with them, but a teardropper wants to leave the clutter of home behind,’’ said Taylor, 62, of Minneapolis, who launched Minnesota Teardrop Trailer LLC three years ago.

“It’s little on the outside, but big on the inside.’’

Small has its advantages. The Vistabule weighs about 1,200 pounds, meaning it can be towed with just about any vehicle. It’s easy to trailer, and doesn’t take up much space. And the cost — about $14,000 to $18,000, depending on amenities — is a fraction of a big RV.

Taylor, a longtime woodworker and furniture designer, decided he could improve on the basic teardrop trailer, created in the 1930s and ’40s as a build-it-yourself camper and still manufactured by several companies (including Camp-Inn in Wisconsin and Little Guy in Ohio).

“A typical teardrop is a step up from a tent. It tends to be cozy but claustrophobic,’’ said Taylor, taking a break from assembling trailers in his northeast Minneapolis shop. “I wanted mine to be open to the outside.’’

So he added large windows and doors, a sofa that folds down into a queen-sized bed and a kitchenette in the rear, complete with stove and running water. The interior is maple and birch, the outside shiny aluminum.

Room with a view

The name, Vistabule, is a play off the word vestibule.

“A vestibule is a little room on the front of your house. This is a room on the front of the world,’’ Taylor said. “It’s a room with a view that you can take anywhere.’’

The windows have shades for privacy, but they are a key part of his design.

“It’s a stage for observing nature instead of a hideout,’’ he said.

After building and testing a prototype, Taylor brought his Vistabule to last year’s Minneapolis RV show to begin marketing it. Nestled in a show with much larger RVs, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

“We sold eight at the show, and another four or five after our website [www.vistabule.com] kicked in,’’ he said.

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  • Bert Taylor started building teardrop trailers last year. Now he can’t keep up with demand. The trailers have a kitchenette and a queen-sized bed.

  • One of the advantages of the Taylor design is that he is able to put a lot into a tiny space, such as big windows, storage space and tables.

  • Taylor has a list of options to enable each buyer to customize the trailer.

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