The History of Predom Caravans
The manufacturer Niewiadów launched what would become Poland’s most famous caravan in 1973. (And just to confuse us all, Niewiadów is also the name of the village where the caravans were made).
The N-126 quickly gained popularity with Polish caravanners, and 15,000 of them were manufactured in the first five years, allowing many people to take inexpensive holidays to places such as Bulgaria and Greece.
This pint-sized caravan was a mere 280 cm long, 190 cm wide and 170 cm high, and was designed to be towed by the Polski Fiat 126P, which is smaller than a Smart car! (Thankfully, the N-126 also came with a pop-up roof, so adults could actually stand up inside!) The trailer body was made from polyester-glass laminate, the base from corrugated steel sheet, and the interior from plastic panels, with the whole caravan weighing in at 280 kg.
Although there ended up being a few different versions made of the 126 model, inside you would have generally found a small folding table, which doubled as a single bed base, and next to this, a kitchenette with a two-burner gas stove, a sink and double cupboards underneath. On the opposite side, there was a wardrobe with additional storage at the bottom. You could have also created a double bed from using another folding table and two couches.
The maximum speed of the caravan/car combination was around 70 km/hr with a load capacity of 100 kg; it was definitely a struggle for the little Fiat!
The success of the N-126 consisted of a few factors; the most obvious being that Poles were able to buy more cars that ever before and the Fiat 126P was launched in the same year. Another factor was that the recreational travel trend in the West had reached Poland, and the third factor was that the inexpensive price of the caravan gave Poles a chance to explore their country and beyond relatively cheaply. The final factor was that caravans manufactured in other countries were simply not available.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the Polish People’s Republic – as Poland was called back then – was the second most populous communist and Eastern Bloc country in Europe. During this era, economic hardships and political unrest were a common part of life.
The N-126 manufacturer began selling them to the West in 1974. Apparently, these export versions were better equipped than the caravans made for the local market, and included an overrun brake, better suspension and opening windows!
After 40 years and many modifications, the N-126 is still being made today. The modern versions are larger and have Domestic refrigerators and Cramer gas stoves, with electric boilers for hot water and heating being an added option.
In fact, the N-126 is still the most popular caravan in Poland, although we hear that it’s used more as a kebab van, rather than a camping van these days!