Vintage Trailer Spotlight: 1954 Boles Aero Mira Mar
This charming and rare 1954 Boles Aero Mira Mar 19-foot trailer is a true survivor. Purchased by Liz and Barry Marks of Santa Ynez, California, in March 2012, it was in its original state when Barry found it stored in a hangar at the local airport, which had helped to preserve it. The previous owner had bought the trailer from the original owners’ estate sale, where it was kept in the family’s barn in Ojai, California, which further ensured its preservation.
Original Preway stove is still working 59 years later!
When the couple took possession, a good polish and clean up was all it needed. They applaud those previous owners who helped keep it in its excellent original condition. Since purchasing it, Liz and Barry have camped in it at vintage trailer rallies and showed it at three venues in California — the Concours d’ Elegance in San Luis Obispo, Modernism Week in Palm Springs and the Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard.
Liz told us, “We find great enjoyment when we show the Boles. There is a special synergy around the vintage trailers that brings forth memories that so many people share in. Our journey to find a vintage travel trailer started four years ago as we always wanted an old trailer to put in the backyard for our grandchildren.”
She added: “Soon after we found our first trailer, we took it to a local trailer rally and camped, and we were hooked after that. Now we go camping with our grandchildren. We currently own three vintage trailers and never pass up the opportunity to rescue an old trailer when we can. It’s become a hobby to rescue, restore and find them new, good caring owners if we can’t keep them.”
Liz and Barry Marks also currently own a 1955 Cardinal and a 1955 Terry trailer. They will host a vintage trailer rally at Ocean Mesa Campground (El Capitan) north of Santa Barbara, California, in March 2014.
Jack and Jill original Tweed fabric twin sleepers.
Boles Aero trailers are not as well known as Airstream, Shasta or other popular brands. Yet Boles trailers were some of the best built and finely finished trailers made, and are highly coveted among vintage trailer aficionados.
Like many postwar RV brands, their story is linked to the wartime aircraft industry and skills learned from it. Back in 1939, Don Boles enrolled in a federal government tool and die maker apprenticeship program designed to help the nation recover from the Great Depression. At Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, California, Boles was trained in airplane manufacturing. After graduating from his apprentice program, Boles joined the Navy for the rest of World War II.
Don Boles and his wife, Jeanette, began building high-quality aluminum trailers in Burbank, California, right after the war ended, when he discovered the demand for trailers and designed his own lightweight aluminum camping trailer. Their first trailers were built in the couple’s one-car garage using money borrowed from Don’s father. The tiny workshop forced them to build trailers that were less than 10 feet long. Don started a partnership called B and R Manufacturing with a friend to manufacture a small trailer model called Roadrunner. The first trailer sold quickly for $675, providing encouragement.
This led to more orders for larger models that required them to get a bigger manufacturing facility, but business stress and financial problems led to an early partnership breakup. At this turning point Boles changed the name to Boles Manufacturing and named his trailers “Boles Aero.”
Business prospered and Don Boles was soon able to devote himself full-time to his new firm. When Boles’ first year in production ended in late 1946, more than 300 trailers were already made.
During the early 1960s Boles introduced a number of innovations that are still employed on modern trailers. These include flush covers for heaters and hot-water tanks, and recessed door handles and water fillers, which gave the trailers a clean, smooth aero-dynamic (Aero) look. Over the years, Boles models grew from early 9- and 12-foot trailers up to large 27- to 35-foot units. Later trailers featured chrome and unique gold-anodized panels. By the time Don and Jeanette Boles finally retired and manufacturing was shut down in 1980, more than 18,000 trailers had been built.