Home » This Fiberglass Camper Is Barely Longer Than A Smart Car, Yet You Can Still Sleep In It

This Fiberglass Camper Is Barely Longer Than A Smart Car, Yet You Can Still Sleep In It

Tiny Big Camper Ts2
ADVERTISEMENT

Summer has finally reached America, which means countless people are breaking their cabin fever by taking camping trips. The American way is to hitch up a massive trailer to a chunky truck and then hit the road, but it doesn’t have to be this way. One company in England felt you could go camping with something smaller, way smaller. Meet the Island Plastics Romini, a fiberglass camper standing just 9.8 feet long, or just 12 inches longer than a Smart Fortwo. Its body is even smaller, clocking in at just 7 feet, or smaller than a Smart. Yet, somehow, you can still sleep in this thing!

The Romini was never sold in America. As it is, it was barely even sold in the UK. Reportedly, fewer than 200 of these campers ever left the factory on the Isle of Wight. That makes a Romini rare anywhere in the world, but someone actually went through the work to find one and bring it into America.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

If you buy this Romini, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see another ever again. Don’t think it’s just a rolling bed, either, because it has some real equipment inside.

436350912 8257728484241575 79459

The Romini was a product of Island Plastics Limited, a company that was based in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. Finding any history of this company is difficult, but corporate websites record its founding in 1959. While I couldn’t find who started the company or why, I can tell you that Island Plastics specialized in plastic products and largely built different vehicles out of glass-reinforced plastic. Some further searching revealed boats made by Island Plastics in the 1970s and 1980s.

ADVERTISEMENT

The company also built land vehicles including emergency recovery trucks and an Austin-Healey frogeye Sprite replica called the “Megasprite.”

8303820
Boatshed Essex

Island Plastics also got into the RV industry. One of the units produced by Island Plastics was the Romahome. According to the Roma Club, the Romahome was invented in the late 1970s by engineer Barry Stimpson. Tiny Kei trucks like the Honda Acty were finding their way over to the UK and Stimpson designed a little pod designed to fit on the back of one of these trucks. As the Honda Acty got a little bigger and faster, Stimpson upgraded his camper design to match. Island Plastics bought the design, improved it, and launched it in 1982 as the Romahome.

Later, Island Plastics realized that most Romahome owners never disconnected their campers from their Kei trucks. This gave the company the idea to just build permanent motorhomes with the Romahome name. The Romahome began an evolution that saw it move to a Citroën C15 base and eventually to vans.

Eyjidwnrzxqioijkb25lzgvhbc5pzs1w
Done Deal
S L1600 (79)
eBay Seller

Island Plastics would fall into Administration in 1998 and the company’s assets were listed for sale. That didn’t stop members of Island Plastics from relaunching the company in 2001 as Romahome Ltd., which continued building and evolving the Romahome.

The camper we’re talking about today came from that time in the 1980s that Island Plastics was open and still experimenting with RVs. While the Romahome converted Kei trucks into motorhomes, the Romini was a towable designed to be pulled by practically any car in existence at the time.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Romini

436262256 8257728467574910 52199

Production of the Romini began in 1985 and according to Island Plastics, the trailer was supposed to be the ultimate in tiny camping. The double-hulled fiberglass unit weighs just 826 pounds, which Island Plastics marketed as being able to be hauled by vehicles as small as the original Mini.

The low cost of ownership was another big selling point of the Romini. Island Plastics said that by having its tiny trailer, you would save money from the initial purchase price, save money on ferries, and have an easy time parking.

436151405 8257728457574911 29078

As I said before, this trailer has an interior just 7 feet long. Despite that, Island Plastics fit most of what you needed in there. A standard Romini came equipped with two full-size bunks, a sink, a stove, a dinette table, and storage solutions. If that wasn’t enough for you, there was a wide options list including a third bunk, an oven, a refrigerator, a chemical toilet, a heater, and a fire extinguisher. Island Plastics also optioned the trailer with an awning so you can chill outside of the trailer in shade.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Romini was also fairly advanced. Island Plastics built the trailer on a galvanized chassis, and then encased the chassis within the fiberglass for further rust protection. A foam sandwich sat between the fiberglass hulls for insulation and dual-pane acrylics were used for windows. You got all of that, plus simulated teak trim and carpet in a capsule with six feet of headroom. You even had some cargo space, as the trailer weighed 1,433 pounds when loaded to the gills.

443695643 8257728420908248 78720

436241484 8257728474241576 66332

I haven’t been able to find the original price of the Romini, but for some reason, only around 200 of them were built between 1985 and 1990. Apparently, there was a longer version called the LS that had a bigger bed. Then, a company called Collier Designs bought the design in 1990, creating the Romini LXS. This one was a full two feet, six inches longer than the original, allowing the addition of a bathroom.

This 1985 Romini was imported into America 20 years ago by a collector of British cars. The trailer was then brought up to Oregon’s DMV code and then wasn’t used. When you pop open the door you’re brought back to 1985 since the trailer still has its original interior. While that’s cool, as is the fact that the bed sleeps a six-foot person, there are some quirks to be aware of. The first is that this trailer is a standard model, so you aren’t going to find any of the above-noted options.

ADVERTISEMENT

436418174 8257728434241580 33707

436364095 8257728440908246 66590

The trailer being original means the stove is fueled by butane rather than the common propane that is used today. The Romini also has an electrical system but has UK connections. Thankfully, an adaptor for the trailer’s wiring harness allows the trailer to hitch up to an American car without an issue. What will be a slight issue is the trailer’s metric tongue. You’ll need to carry around the included metric ball because otherwise, you won’t be able to tow the trailer.

Other good news includes the fact that this trailer is light, but it has surge brakes. It also has a hand-operated parking brake so the trailer doesn’t roll when parked. The Romini rolls down the road on 12-inch wheels and a rubber torsion bar suspension.

443943624 8257728470908243 91214

ADVERTISEMENT

If you’re interested, the seller has the trailer listed for $17,900 in Veneta, Oregon. That is a pretty penny for such a tiny camper, but its rarity and fun design might make the price worth it for someone.

The trailer looks great despite spending so much of its life sitting. Now, it’s ready to go camping after waiting for 20 years. You’ll want to replace those ancient tires and figure out an adapter for the electrical system, but this camper is ready to be the cutest thing in your campground. It’s just a foot longer than a Smart Fortwo and could be towed by that same Smart! How many other campers with stand-up room will you find like that?

(Images: Facebook Seller, unless otherwise noted.)

Popular Stories

ADVERTISEMENT
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
24 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ADDvanced
ADDvanced
25 days ago

Rubber torsion bars?

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
24 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

It makes for a very soft ride.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
24 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Very common for travel trailers, especially smaller ones. Could be original (but I’d be surprised the rubber lasted this long), or could be Dexter Torflex. It’s basically a solid square bar rotating within a hollow square bar, with rubber between for spring+dampener.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
23 days ago
Reply to  Defenestrator

I’m familiar with torsion bar trailer axles but all that I’ve encountered have been steel.

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
25 days ago

Yes, I know this has nothing to with campers, or real cars, but it is tiny and amazing;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck3Cycrmvcc&t=2s

It took eleven years and 5 million euros to build!

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
25 days ago

This site has opened my eyes to fiberglass campers. I saw a longer scamp the other week and just about died

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
25 days ago

Bigger on the inside? Is this the TARDIS of campers? Figures it’d be British!

John McMillin
John McMillin
26 days ago

I’m confused. If the body of this this thing is seven feet long, and it has a two-burner stone at the foot of the bed, and you lose a couple inches to double-wall construction, how do those beds accommodate a six-footer? Doesn’t seem to add up, does it? I do think it’s stand-uppable, because the profile is almost square.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
25 days ago
Reply to  John McMillin

Same, makes no sense.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
24 days ago
Reply to  John McMillin

I’m guessing they mean a single six-footer can sleep diagonally. Either that or tall folks can sleep as long as they do so in the fetal position.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
26 days ago

I had an A-Liner Alite that I sold because I just wasn’t using it enough, but something like this would maybe be compelling enough to get me to try an RV again. Fortunately, it’s rare, out of production, and out of budget, so I don’t need to worry about dragging one home anytime soon

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
26 days ago

The question is would want to sleep in it? I would go Hulk Mode in that small of a space. Plus if someone is with you, you are constantly going outside to pass each other.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
26 days ago

I think we need to discuss various definitions of “camper (trailer type)”. At the core of it might be “an enclosed space for sleeping in the outdoors that is towable by a vehicle”. This certainly meets that definition.

But there may or may not be additional qualifications, such as:
Can you prepare food in it?
Can you stand upright in it?
Can you poop in it?
Can you wash your body in it?
etc.

I suppose every individual who wants a camping trailer gets to choose what is important to them, and how they prioritize it. For me, I’d rather trade out an indoor kitchen (cooking inside usually leaves lingering odors that I don’t appreciate in my sleeping space, and outdoor cooking is easier) and replace it with a wet bath. But everyone gets their own choices, and there’s probably a camper style for everyone.

J T
J T
24 days ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

you can poop in any vehicle

AlterId
AlterId
26 days ago

Heh. I wonder if an old friend who became an evangelist in the EU had one of these for his travels. He used to speak in metric tongues.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
26 days ago

That’s a neat little trailer and adds to the Romahome lore.
On the subject of dinky campers, I have seen photos of a Fiat 850 van from the 70s or early 80s that looked like a 3/4 sized VW Westfalia.

beachbumberry
beachbumberry
26 days ago

Love this! It’s like the uk equivalent of an og teardrop. I always loved the romahomes and before my wife and I had kids we talked about buying one to travel in while living in the uk

CRG
CRG
26 days ago

Is this an article or an argumentative essay to yourself why this should be your next purchase? ???? The use of a Smart as a metric is a dead giveaway this is heading for your fleet!

Haywood Giablomi
Haywood Giablomi
26 days ago

Only Mercedes is using Smart Car as a unit of measurement.

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
26 days ago

Yet another example of Americans being willing to use anything other than the metric system!

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
26 days ago

There are two kinds of countries, those who use the Metric system and those who landed a man on the moon. 🙂

Last edited 26 days ago by Arrest-me Red
Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
26 days ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

We have to be such good engineers here because we have to deal with all types of units. I even have to occasionally deal with Imperial units!

Base units are fine. It’s when you get into derived units it starts getting really annoying. Or my least favorite unit, the ton. Long tons, short tons, metric tons, cooler tons, and boiler tons. Two are units of weight, one is a unit of mass, one is a measure of the rate of energy transfer over a unit of time, and the last one just sucks.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
23 days ago

You forgot the shit-ton and the metric-fuckton.

Haywood Giablomi
Haywood Giablomi
25 days ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

NASA used the metric system for that. Smart cars hadn’t been invented yet.

24
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x