From a post in the armed forces to caravan designer may seem like a leap, however this is exactly what Sam Alper did in 1947. His brother Henry had a newly established caravan business – Alperson Products in the U.K. – that was to become Sprite Caravans, one of Britain’s most trusted and prolific caravan manufacturers.
Henry soon left the family business and Sam took the reins. The first ever Sprite was constructed from surplus WWII materials, however, these materials were heavy and cumbersome, and at £600 was too costly for the belt-tightening, post-war public. Sam needed to design a caravan that was cheaper and lighter – but still robust. This van was sold for a much more palatable £199 and could be easily towed by a family car.
To prove just how robust and easy to tow his caravans were, Alper invited a caravan journalist to travel around Europe with him in one of his vans, as a publicity stunt. 16,000 kilometres later, Sprite’s reputation for reliability was cemented (whilst also building an export market and bringing caravanning to the masses… Clever man!)
Business was booming in the 1960’s and Alper decided to buy the Eccles caravan company and merge with another - Bluebird. This new combined company - Caravans International (also known as CI Caravans) - revolutionised the industry by opening dealerships all over Europe, whereby if something went wrong with your caravan when travelling, you could just pop into one of these dealerships and get your van fixed right then and there.
By the end of the 60’s, the Sprite Alpine - a 3.8 metre, four-berth touring caravan - was the top-selling caravan in the UK, with sales of 6,000 units. Then came the Sprite Cadet in 1970, which we featured in our … Collection. Sold for £227, and at just 2.6 metres long, the “bubble-top” Cadet had a door unusually located at the rear, a modest wardrobe, basic kitchen and compact dinette, and was designed to be towed by a small car.
The early 70’s saw Sprite caravans being manufactured almost all over the world; however, it was the U.S. market that Alper desperately wanted to crack. Unfortunately, this didn’t quite go to plan, due to there being a lot of competition within the industry, as well as a recession on the way. Quite simply, there were too many caravans for too few customers.
Sadly, things did not improve during the 80’s, and CI Caravans was forced to go into liquidation. This was the end of the road for Alper, however, the Sprite brand endured. (Fear not, the industrious Sam Alper went on to do many more amazing things in life! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Alper)
The U.K. based company Cosalt bought the brand rights, launching smaller and more efficient Sprite vans, but during the 90’s, they sold the touring caravan arm of their business to Swift Leisure. Swift took on the innovative aspects that made the Sprite brand so popular, producing Tyron safety bands on the wheels as standard, and adding loose-fit carpets and halogen lamps to interiors.
Following some further ups and downs, the Sprite brand continues to be a force in the caravan industry, even winning awards with its Major model. To this day, the Sprite brand is still known for manufacturing good value, reliable, innovative and durable caravans, and is universally loved.
For more info on the Sprite brand, feel free to read the following -https://www.comfort-insurance.co.uk/blog/the-history-of-sprite-caravans