Stylish Hauler: 1937 Mullins Red Cap Trailer

060116 Barn Finds - 1937 Mullins Red Cap Trailer - 1

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A small, non-camping trailer on Barn Finds? Yes, but not just any trailer, this is a 1937 Mullins Red Cap Trailer and they’re as rare as, well, as rare as trailers on Barn Finds! This sweet, little carry-all is in Custer, South Dakota. I’ll be there this weekend and if anyone is seriously interested in it I can check it out in person. It’s listed on eBay with a reserve-not-met opening bid of $999 and that’s an absolute screaming bargain! I may end up pulling this one home, which would be awkward since I don’t have a trailer hitch on the car that I’m taking to the Black Hills..

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Mullins Manufacturing Corporation was located in Salem, Ohio and they made all sorts of metal items in a wide range, from boats like my 1930s Sea Eagle to Youngstown Kitchen cabinets, and for two years they made these much sought after Red Cap trailers. In the mid-late-1930s the company moved to Oil City, Pennsylvania. They used either five or six-lug wheels depending on what vehicle the owner had so a wheel could be used for a spare. You’ll have the usual restoration work to do here, maybe a bit of welding and grinding, etc. These trailers can sell for crazy money when they’re restored and they really are slick when they’re pulled by an equally-stylish vehicle from around the same era.

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In 1935, a young employee at Mullins, Vern Broomall, did a quick sketch for a small trailer that “could be towed behind cars and still be classy-looking”, and a few short months later the Red Cap Trailer was born. The company only made around 3,000 of these trailers in 1936 and 1937, and there are fakes and reproductions out there so it’s good to check the numbers. There should be a small tag with a number on it at the rear of the frame of real Red Cap trailers. And, real trailers would have the clamshell configuration seen on this one for sale. Although the seller doesn’t have a photo of it open, here is a photo of a restored trailer with both doors open.

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Luckily, the seller does show a photo of the trailer with the top open. Mullins had a canvas piece that could be fitted to the open top that would allow a couple of people to sleep in there in a crunch. I’d have to literally be crunched up to fit in there but I guess I could fit if I had to. The Red Cap trailer had a 1,200 pound capacity, so that’s good for a couple of people for sure.. It looks like the seller has some replacement gasket material in the back, or maybe they’ve already put some on and that’s what’s left over? Although the cracked material on this corner looks like it needs help. The whole trailer will need to be restored if you’re going to pull it in style. This would be a fun restoration project, there is no question about it. It would be fairly easily to restore for anyone with normal skills, or even those with abnormal skills like I have! Could you see yourself pulling this stylish little trailer and what would be an equally-stylish vehicle to pull it with?

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  1. Fred W.

    Too Kool for Skool. I wouldn’t be concerned about this particular one being a repro. Someone is going to get a screamin’ deal.

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  2. edh

    $999 for a small, old trailer.

    I don’t get this.

    You would have to pull people over to it an tell them exactly what it is and you would get a resounding “Meh”. Then you would tell them how much you paid and they would laugh their ass off. And if you are married when you purchase this you wouldn’t be for long.

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  3. Van

    I could tow it behind the D
    Same Dunlop wheels and racing number.

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  4. That Guy

    I’ve never heard of these. It’s good to start the day learning something new. I like it!

    It’s astounding that one sold for over $26K. I wonder if that’s an outlier, or do they really get that kind of money routinely?

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  5. Woodie Man

    It appears to have incorrect wheels. Does anyone know? Hard to tell from the description if there is any bonds ….very tempting if the frame was square . Look good towed behind the woodie

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    • The 'Schmitt Haus

      The original wheels where “artillery” style with small hub caps with the Mullins Man and the Red Cap logo.
      The bolt pattern varied. The lid latches were ’36 ford hump back trunk latches, the hinges were ’30’s Chevy I believe.

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  6. Brad

    A wonderful curiosity from the early days of road trips, etc. No way I would pay a thousand bucks (or apparently way more) for it though, when I think about the $4K I paid for a 1950s Airstream that is *infinitely* more functional and fun than this little guy.

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  7. The 'Schmitt Haus

    I owned a Red Cap trailer for a number of years. ( serial #1895 if I remember correctly)
    It was the center of attraction when ever I used it, I hauled it behind my early Bronco but my plan was to eventually tow it with my hot rod. I sold it and purchased a Excaliber Sport Carrier which also gets loads of attention when I use it.
    One thing about a Mullins, it is almost impossible to back it up with a vehicle. The distance between the coupler and the axle centerline is really short which makes it squirrelly going in reverse.
    The trailer offered for sale must have a rusted floor, the original floor was ribbed steel not wood.

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    • Chris Spenceley

      I think this floor is ribbed steel – does look a bit like wood, though I think the paint gives appearance of would grain, maybe…

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  8. Mark S

    The tong of that trailer is way to short, I’ll bet that it is squirlly going forward as well as going in reverse. This trailer looks like it needs some repair and redesign before it is safe. If it was in good shape the $999.00 would not be out of line just try to build one for that price. But this is to rough for that price $200.00 would be more realistic.

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  9. stillrunners

    Haus’s got it – Mark go back in the garage – should go for around $1500 for some one looking – this is a nice one except for the wheels/caps…..wheels easy and I think the caps have been repopped…..

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  10. Scotty GAuthor

    Update: bidding ended at $1,676 – no sale.

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    • Glass&Resin

      It followed me home from SD!!!

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  11. robert J esterbrook

    I have one in my barn😊.

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  12. Dale

    I just bought a mullin red cap that has sat for 30 years + out side. Needs a new tub.Can anyone help?

    Like 0

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