Roadside Sighting: 1950 Spartan Royal Mansion

It’s fun to hunt for cars on your local craigslist, but sometimes the best finds are discovered along the roadside when you least expect it. Our managing editor, Josh, found this one driving around and we knew we had to feature it. It’s a 1950 Spartan Royal Mansion and it could be perfect for someone looking for a vintage camper. It’s a project, but considering that a nice one just sold for over $350k, it may be worth a look!

The photos do not do this camper justice. With nice curves and polished panels, this thing is impressive! Air Streams are cool, but this thing really does look like it was once a “royal mansion”. We didn’t measure it, but it seemed very long. There’s a door on each side and it has a bathroom, kitchen, and multiple sitting areas. It’s wearing California plates and the black plates sitting inside make me think it may have lived its whole life on the west coast until recently.

Someone has obviously started the restoration process. There’s a new fridge and things have been taken apart. There’s a lot of wood in there that’s going to need to be refinished, but it’ll be beautiful when done. Take a look at the photos of the one I linked to in the first paragraph and you will see what I mean. Spartan had built airplanes before building these. You can see the aviation influence in the way they constructed the exterior. These were some of the best trailers built and some of the most expensive.

The seller’s asking price of $30k seemed steep until I saw what kind of potential these trailers have. I’m no expert though so maybe some of our camper pros can chime in. It would be fun to finish the inside and then take this thing on a cross country journey! If you’re interested in trying, it’s located in Boise, Idaho and the seller’s number is on the sign.

We have been toying with a new idea of offering inspections for roadside finds like this. We figured that the person who spots a vehicle could easily go back and meet with the seller to take more photos and ask questions. We would collect a fee for the service and pay the finder once they finish the inspection. This might be a good way to get paid to hunt for cars while also helping potential buyers at the same time.

We still need to work out all the details, but as a trial run, we would be willing to inspect this one for anyone who might be interested. You can use the form below to request the inspection. We will refund the fee if the trailer sells before being inspected, but not after. Please let us know your thoughts on this new idea and be sure to send in any good roadside finds you may come across while out and about!

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Oh, for cryin’ out loud, who in their right mind would spend $30g’s on this, another bunch to finish it, and the Mack truck to pull it? I think this is getting a little carried away here, as is, I wouldn’t give them a grand.
    Inspections for someone is a good idea, for the cheapskate in me, it seems a bit steep, but could save someone thousands in the long run. Good luck.

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Have you seen how much Airstream projects go for? As for inspections, look up what some companies are charging. You’ll think our price is a screaming bargain!

      15
      • Howard A Member

        Lower your weapons, I’m on your side, I think. I have no use for inspections, I can do my own inspections, but I think it is a good idea for some. Nothing I’d quit my day job for, if I had one, that is. And I’m sorry, 5 figure vintage campers, to me, is just another exploitation of the “I have one, you don’t” list that is ruining it for most. To put things in perspective, one could get a pretty fancy motorhome, with cable and maybe even the standard issue “CJ Jeep” behind, for what you’d have into this, including the single digit mpg pulling vehicle you’d need, probably a diesel, which is usually more than gas today. I see the predicaments some people get into with these big trailers, and this ain’t no Scotty( no offense, Scotty, usually tiny campers) and make no mistake, this is a big unit to schlep around. Sorry, it just upsets me to see price tags like this, for what I think is a limited market to begin with and overpriced stuff like this isn’t helping. I’ll try to be the advocate for the little guys until the bitter end.

    • Sam61

      You know what they say…if the trailers rock’n some dumba$$ didn’t level it.

      10
  2. Carl Madson

    Given the cost of apartments out here in CA, you could fix this up and park it with the other RVs and trailers, charge two people $2K/month each and be net positive at the end of a year…

    17
    • Howard A Member

      Colorado isn’t any better. They just put up brand new condos, 1 and 2 bedroom, STARTING at $249,000,,,for a box with windows.

      • ICEMAN from Winnipeg

        And a single family house? Starting price in Vancouver at least $2,000,000 +. In the suburbs like Surrey and Langley, even a 40 year old rancher bungalow is over a million now. Existing home owners who lived there for 40 years are cashing in/selling their homes that they bought for $20,000 in the 1970s. And gasoline prices hit $1.70 a Litre this weekend !! So better not be towing your trailer too much, because in the self proclaimed “Greenest City in the World” Vancouver penalizes you for just tying to put a roof over your head.

      • PatrickM

        I have lived in Wyoming, just north of Colorado, now in Maryland. Prices for condos here are through the roof!! As for this trailer, it would be a good project for the one who really wants it…along worth the deep pockets to do it. Just not me. Good luck to all.

    • ICEMAN from Winnipeg

      Here in the Lower Mainland Vancouver, British Columbia, housing prices have hit the ceiling. A 500 Square Foot condo in Vancouver starts at $750,000, and the suburbs like Surrey in the $550,000 range. Rental units are in short supply, with a one bedroom apartment renting for at least $1,800. So many young people can not longer afford to live in this city and are leaving the province. Sad that an individual with a good job earning $100,000 a year can barely afford to buy a small condo. There are a lot of people living in trailers and parking their trailers in Vancouver City Parks, which the city does not like and is fining them. The City of Vancouver and the Province of BC have for the past decade turned a blind eye to foreign money launders using real estate to “wash” their cash, which in turn has driven up prices.

  3. jimjim

    One of these recently sold at an RM Auction for over $300k. I’ve often wondered if these sellers aren’t creating inflated transactions with their friends so that they can sell at an inflated price eventually. It’s almost like those pump and dump stock scams.

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  4. Roarrr

    I attended University while living in one just like that–could be the same it’s in Cal where I sold mine, I towed it with a 51 chev pickup with that ~~powerful 216 six.

  5. Euromoto Member

    What a beautiful thing is that in the Sotheby’s link. A true labor of love. Magnificent photos.

    • H5mind

      These are the sort of projects which can drain bank accounts and end marriages if not careful. It looks like the seller might be in one of those scenarios. $60 for an objective walk-through is a stellar idea.

  6. canadainmarkseh Member

    I can see 5k to 10k. Only because there’s a new fridge sitting in a box lnside. The skin on this trailer looks pretty good but needs a lot of polish to bring up the shine as for the interior you could drop 5k in there in the blink of an eye, and that’s you doing the work. It would be a fantastic trailer to own but a storage problem non the else.

    • H5mind

      That’s an AC unit, not a fridge in the box. I’d also be curious to know if the seller has all the cabinet doors and their condition. The biggest killer of RVs is water infiltration- speaking from experience.

  7. Jeff

    Vintage Campers has a 1951 Spartan 36 Ft. Imperial Mansion #A1393 for (6) Six Grand. It needs a lot of work however I believe someone with some time might have a really nice old unit.

    http://vintagecampers.com/

    • Mountainwoodie

      Heres a better one:

      https://vintagecampers.mybigcommerce.com/1950-spartan-33-royal-mansion-2073/

      Even at 13 K you’d be way ahead of the game.

      Maybe the seller of the one Josh saw knows something we dont.

    • J Parello

      It’s California-everything is more expensive… and-it is a vintage camper-which is a hot item and has been for a few years. Like classic cars-they also suffer the same fate of being an abandoned project due to the required time invested…

  8. sparkster

    Didn’t Lucy and Dezi tow one of these across the United States in the movie
    ” The Long Long Trailer”. I believe she filled it with rocks at one stop. Quiz: What vehicle did they use to tow it with ?

    • TherealHash

      Early 50’s mercury convertible.

    • Neil

      ’53 Mercury convertible. Tail wagging the dog! The Merc only had a flat head V-8 – about 120 HP

  9. Glenn

    The price seems steep, but these were the top dog of trailers. I think it’s worth restoring this piece of RV history.

  10. geezerglide85

    I remember seeing the movie, think it was ’53 Mercury convertible ?

  11. Kenneth Carney

    The trailer in that movie was a ’54 New
    Moon 8X35 I think. At least that’s what I
    think they said in a YouTube video I’d seen some time ago. As I recall, it was
    quite an impressive looking rig. As for
    this one, it would make an awesome tiny house! Just imagine being able to live
    inside a piece of history. Sorry folks,
    not worth 30K.

  12. stillrunners

    One in a trailer park over by Jerry’s stadium in Arlington….just sitting…..guy that owns it bought it cheap and just keeps it….in case his girlfriend kicks him out. Has a nice story on the owner that towed it into the lot back in the 50’s.

  13. sparkster

    The Long Long Trailer ,The trailer, a 1953 New Moon, used in the film is 32 feet in length and weighed more than 3 tons total During the scenes of Nicky and Tacy pulling their trailer in the mountains, their 1953 Mercury Monterey convertible is replaced with a larger but similar appearing 1953 Lincoln Capri convertible. The distinct Lincoln grille is clearly evident in a shot as the car rounds a curve. The more powerful Lincoln (which is equipped with a 205 HP V8 engine) was needed to pull the heavy New Moon trailer up and over the steep grades of the Sierra Nevada where the scenes were filmed.

  14. Mike Siebel

    Hey, I think it’s great that someone has the wherewithal to save these old trailers, and put them back in as new condition! And I’d rather see someone who has the money to do it right, as opposed to a shade-tree approach that buggers it all up! Most of these have already been turned into Coke cans or hunting cabins.

    • Terry Bowman

      Funny, I did have one of these back in the 70’s as a camp in the Everglades before the Gov. turned it into the Big Cypress National Park. An Air Stream, maybe, but if you find the right person that has an attachment, possible. Then again I spent $15,000 on parts and outside work, labor was on me on refurbishing (not using the terminology restored) on my 69′ 340 Dart Swinger in 87′ when it was only worth around $15,000 when completed. I would do it again if needed.

  15. Mike

    Thanks BF for sending me on a 4 hour detour of searching vintage trailers. Always liked the warm tones of polished wood paneling and vintage flooring/fabrics.

  16. Marko

    Spartan Royal Mansions, are the Holy Grail of vintage travel trailers. Combination of aircraft design and mid century modern design, at its finest.
    These trailers made a statement, and I have seen many examples restored or modified and modernised on the web. Totally worth the price for its condition. They are rare and getting even rarer as time goes by.

  17. RobF

    Those thinking they rather a new camper have never taken one apart and seen that they are constructed like absolute trash, they will never stand the test of time like these.

    • Cool_Cadillac_Cat

      As the owner of a 1999 Fleetwood Bounder diesel pusher, this could not be more true.

  18. Robbert

    No modern plastic car would tow it! Wow! Straight out of Project Blue Book!

  19. moosie Member

    In my bachelor days I rented an apartment that amounted to a seperate guest house kind of deal from the main house. In the yard/parking area sat a trailer very similar looking to this one except for being a bit shorter. It could pass for this ones little brother. My sweet old landlady wanted the trailer out of the yard & was willing to pay $200.00 for someone to remove it. My plan was to get it out of the yard down a very steep & narrow driveway & pull it to my buddy’s shop, strip all the aluminum off of it, sell the aluminum to the scrap yard and build a race car trailer out of what was left. Old Sweet Wilma got impatient and found someone else to move it. I dont know what became of it after that. This was around 1984/85.

  20. Brian L Weyeneth

    Inspection services work – at least for me. I built my business on an approach of representing buyers searching for just the right classic, providing pre-purchase inspections, appraisals and more importantly, notary services in my state. Ever do a deal on the tailgate of a pickup on a Sunday afternoon only to be stymied by the fact that the title can’t be signed unless in the presence of a notary? I fill that void. Mountain Top Speed Shop. Spencer Mountain, NC.

  21. Dave

    Spartan trailers were made right here in Tulsa Oklahoma by an aeronautics company. Well built units for sure.

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