• J.R.

Acquired: The Vintage Camper Trailer

"You know, I think I saw two of them on one of our lots the other day." My dad pauses for a moment pulling the memory out.

I hear my heat beating faster as I willed him on.

"They're not Airstreams though."

My heart slows a little bit.

"But they look like Airstreams," he continues. "They're really old."

My interest piques again. "Well, you only have two options if they're old, aluminum and look like Airstreams. You have the Avion and the Spartan."

"I'll ask my cousin tomorrow." (He owns the lot and likely the trailers.)


If you're looking for a vintage Airstream, it's inevitable that search results will occasionally yield an Avion or Spartan. Neither come up often as they're less desirable and in the case of the Spartan, way fewer were ever made. A couple of months ago however, I came across a 1948 Spartan Manor that was completely renovated and it blew my mind. The gorgeous windows, the curves, the uniqueness. Later, I found some other amazing designs but most were 45'+ and that's really, too big to boondock around the continent.


My dad calls the next day. "I talked to my cousin and he said they're both 45' 1958 Spartan trailers."

My heart sinks again. Way too big.

He continues, "He asked if I had someone interested though and I said, 'Actually, yeah, my son and his wife for one- they plan to do a full renovation- and I was thinking I'd like the other one.' His response was as I expected, 'Looks like you guys just scored.'"

"He's giving them to us?"

"Yep. I'll go out and look at them this weekend."

We continued the conversation on what to look for, various models, features and other things. While I wasn't terribly excited about a 45' foot trailer, it was vintage, it was rare and it was free. I figured I could make something out of it. So while I anxiously awaited photos over the next couple days, I wasn't overly anxious.

A few days later, my phone rings and it's my dad. My heart leaps a little bit.

"Well, good news, they're not 45'. I'm measuring 35-37' tongue to tail."

I do a little jig in my kitchen.

"I talked to our main welder who helped move them out here from the auction and he said the one in the back is towable 1200mi. but not the one in the front. I trust this guy a lot, he's really anal and if he says it's good, it's good...but I'd still repack the bearings.


My dad couldn't find a badge, but near as I can determine, it's a 1954 Spartan Royal Mansion "Double-Ender" (meaning both ends are nearly identical.) What the heck is a Royal Mansion you say? Well, it's a really old, aluminum trailer manufactured between 1945 and 1962 by the Spartan Aircraft Company. You read their deeper history here.


So here begins our trailer adventures. We're planning for a 5-6 year renovation done mostly by ourselves. Titus and I will be heading to California after Memorial Day to pick it up. We plan to camp the entire way and I'll document the whole process. It really should be adventure prepping and towing a 65yo trailer back to Montana.


While we started out set on a vintage Airstream, it's very hard to pass up vintage, free, rare and well, just really cool and different. Nothing Molly or I ever do is normal so why be like everyone else on the road?






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