The Amazing Folding Mini-Motel Caravan of 1959
Somewhat forgotten in automobile history is the fantastic folding Mini-Motel caravan from 1959. The Mini-Motel was originally produced by a company called Portaplas based in Emsworth, Hampshire.
Company founders Brian James and Ron Nugent are proud of their creation which can be set up in just a minute. Wow, that’s ten times as fast as most people take getting dressed!
The Mini-Motel model, which was was priced at £268 at the time (a little over £4,000 today), was quickly replaced by a much larger model called the Portafold.
Here’s a page from the first ever brochure for the Portafold model.
And here's a vintage promotional clip which claims “Even a moron, mechanically speaking, can fix it up in a matter of minutes,” the voice-over presenter eloquently notes. “Four retractable legs provide a firm base for the caravan and prevent it from rolling inadvertently out to sea in the middle of the night.”
This one was sold on eBay.com with a starting bid of £0.99. It does need a bit of fixing up...
But this recently restored 1973 Portafold may give you some inspiration. Check out all the before and after photos here.