This is a completely restored 1948 Spartan Manor 18′ Travel Trailer that retains its timeless post-WWII styling, but now has modern upgrades like a full bathroom with hot water, air conditioning, and a memory foam double bed.
The Spartan Manor series of luxury travel trailers were made by the Spartan Aircraft Company using aircraft design and engineering principles. They make a fascinating alternative to the more common Airstreams of the same era.
Fast Facts – The Spartan Manor Travel Trailer
- Spartan Aircraft Company was founded in 1928 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by oil magnate William G. Skelly, it was founded on the remains of the struggling Mid-Continent Aircraft Manufacturing Company. The firm’s inception was a response to the burgeoning interest in aviation during this era, and its primary focus was on manufacturing aircraft with an emphasis on luxury and performance.
- One of Spartan’s early significant achievements was the development of the Spartan Executive series of aircraft. These aircraft were notable for their advanced design and 200 mph cruising speed. The craftsmanship and attention to detail in these planes mirrored the meticulous design philosophies seen in contemporary luxury automobiles, and were an early precursor to the modern private jet.
- During World War II, Spartan contributed significantly to the war effort through the Spartan School of Aeronautics. The school trained thousands of pilots and mechanics for the military. This echoes the broader trend of manufacturing companies, including those in the automotive sector, repurposing their facilities and expertise for wartime production.
- After WWII when demand for aircraft fell off precipitously, the company began producing luxury travel trailers using the same semi-monocoque engineering as their aircraft. Known as the Spartan Manor series, these travel trailers were manufactured until 1961, and remain hugely popular with enthusiasts today.
Spartan: From Aircraft To Travel Trailers
In 1928 oil magnate William G. Skelly took over the struggling Mid-Continent Aircraft Manufacturing Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma and renamed it the Spartan Aircraft Company. Skelly had a deep fascination for the burgeoning world of aviation and automobiles and after making his fortune in the oil business, he was free to pursue any interest that took his fancy.
The Spartan Aircraft Company produced a variety of both civilian and military aircraft, they also had their own flight academy – the Spartan School of Aeronautics. Spartan made a name for themselves with the C2 series of monoplanes which was later developed into the C4, and finally into the luxurious Spartan Executive.
The Spartan Executive was a personal aircraft designed for business executives and tycoons, it offered all the same luxuries as a high-end automobile, and was capable of 200 mph. In many respects, the Spartan Executive was an early precursor to the private jet.
In 1935 J. Paul Getty purchased a controlling interest in the company from Skelly, he directed the opening of two new campuses of the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Miami, Muskogee and Ponca City, Oklahoma.
During WWII, Spartan trained countless American pilots, aircrews, and aircraft mechanics. They also produced aircraft for the war effort. After the war, with the sudden drop in demand for new aircraft they began manufacturing luxury travel trailers using the same design principles as their aircraft with all-aluminum, semi-monocoque designs.
The 1950s were a time of explosive growth in the travel trailer world, as Americans put their newly minted disposable income to good use. Cross-country vacations in trailers and motorhomes became almost a rite of passage, and companies like Airstream and Spartan were well-position to take advantage of the trend.
Spartan travel trailers were more luxurious, and more costly, than their rivals. They were sometimes referred to as the “Cadillac” of trailers. Ultimately Spartan would survive into the 1960s but not much further, closing down in 1961 after having built and sold over 40,000 trailers.
The art deco stying, high-end luxuries, and the fascinating history of Spartan makes the company’s surviving travel trailers highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts.
The 1948 Spartan Manor 18′ Shown Here
The travel trailer you see here is a rebuilt 1948 Spartan Manor 18′. It was carefully restored in 2012 when the length was shortened slightly to 18′, the exterior and interior were refinished, and the axle was replaced.
The key appeal for many Spartan Manor buyers is the classic vintage styling, so the restoration of this trailer kept this in place. The exterior was painted sliver with a distinctive red side stripe with Spartan graphics.
Inside you’ll find a new electrical system, a newly added bathroom with hot and cold running water, air conditioning, a dinette, kitchenette, and a rear bedroom with a memory foam mattress. The kitchenette has a Dixie propane range, a stainless-steel sink with running water, a Galanz refrigerator, and plenty of cupboards and counter space.
The trailer is fitted with modern-style shore connections for water and power, house batteries, a freshwater tank, gray water and black water tanks, dual propane tanks, electrically actuated drum brakes, and a power-operated tongue jack.
During the refurbishment it was outfitted with new woodgrain paneling, Marmoleum flooring, curtains, wall sconces, and built-in overhead lighting. The walls and ceiling have been insulated, and the dinette features the original panoramic windows with bench-style seating for up to four people, perhaps six in a pinch.
This Spartan Manor is now being offered for sale on Bring a Trailer out of Thousand Oaks, California with an awning, a yellow California license plate, and a clean California title in the seller’s name. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
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