J. Paul Getty is well known for being the wealthiest man during his time, for founding the Getty Oil Company, and of course, for all of the media during his grandson’s kidnapping, but he is not so well known for acquiring an aircraft company in the 1930s: the Spartan Aircraft Company.
After building aircraft during WWII, he thought it would be good to diversify, so he decided to manufacture trailers. The first production of 100 ran in 1945, designed by G.R. Shutes, who was a well-respected designer known for his sleek styling and art-deco design. Shutes gave the trailers a modern monocoque construction similar to airplane manufacturing for high strength and weight reduction.
In the post-war years, Spartan offered an extensive lineup with 19 different models. These were priced higher than most of Spartan’s competitors, so in order to compete, Spartan came out with several models in the 1950s: the Crescendo and the Carousel, both with unique curving floor plans, the Sparcraft, which had riveted aluminum construction, much less styling, no curves and lower-grade aluminum, and the boxy Sparlane, which was designed to be the price leader.
Unfortunately, in 1961, production ended, as efforts proved to be futile.
Interestingly enough, the price for a new 25-foot Spartan Manor travel trailer cost nearly $4000 – about half the price of an inexpensive home in those days.
Here are some photos of a few Spartan Trailers. Enjoy!
6101 Mallard Rd, Thornburg, VA
540 735 1100 / 800 719 3507