When is a Spartan Manor an Airstream?

When is a Spartan Manor an Airstream?

Champagne House, Veuve Clicquot
Champagne House, Veuve Clicquot

For those knowledgeable of the history of the RV Industry and familiar with vintage trailers the short answer is never.

Now thanks to confusion over at the Champagne House―Veuve Clicquot―or overly indulging the crisp and silky full-body structure and sparkling highlights of its La Grande Dame 2004, a beautifully renovated “1946 Spartan Manor Airstream” takes center stage during a recent one-day appearance (June 2) at the London Wine Fair.

To compound the error The Drinks Report failed to check its sources and ran with the story.

“In the midst of its nationwide tour of UK Season events, Veuve Clicquot’s impactful and beautifully renovated 1946 Spartan Manor Airstream will take up position in the centre of London Wine Fair…as part of plans to bring innovation and added value to the on-trade sector,” states The Drinks Report.

“Wines to be showcased at the Airstream will include the house’s signature style, Yellow Label, Rosé, and Vintage 2004.”

This oxymoron of sorts may have started when Christina Jesaitis, senior brand manager for Veuve Clicquot, said “We’re excited to be bringing the Veuve Clicquot twist to the Wine Fair for the first time and whilst our timetable of events with the Airstream allows us just one day at Olympia, we’re confident the day will be productive.”

1954 Spartan Mobile Home at the RVMH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
1954 Spartan Mobile Home at the RVMH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To bring clarity to the confusion over at the venerable Veuve Clicquot and The Drinks Report a brief history of the two icon RV manufactures follows.

Spartan Manor

Spartan Manor travel trailers were manufactured by the Spartan Aircraft Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, starting in 1946.

Previously known as Mid-Continent Aircraft Company, the company was reorganized under the Spartan name in 1928 by oil baron William G. Skelly, and operated until 1961 manufacturing aircraft, aircraft components, and Spartan Manor travel trailers. The company was widely known for the luxurious Spartan Executive aircraft produced in the late 1930s and early 1940s made prominent by owners such as Howard Hughes and King Ghazi of Iraq.

J. Paul Getty acquired the company from Skelly in 1935. After the ebb of personal aviation and the increased competition in the aircraft business following World War II, Getty ended aircraft production and redirected production to focus on the rapidly rising demand for housing and leisure.

Using the same internally braced and space-saving monocoque design of the Spartan Executive 7W, the company produced its first all-metal trailer. The company followed previous design strategies, offering lavish and full-featured trailers.

Airstream

Airstream, manufacturer of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the oldest and most recognized recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America.

1958 Airstream Der Kleine Prinz (The Little Prince) at the RVMH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
1958 Airstream Der Kleine Prinz (The Little Prince) at the RVMH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The design of the Airstream was based on an airplane fuselage with lightweight aluminum and the effect was stunning, sleek, and silver.

The Airstream is an eye-catching vintage classic. First appearing on American highways in the mid-1930s, these sleek aluminum icons were compact, cozy spaces that could be hitched to the family car and taken out on the open road—and nearly a century later, their timeless design has lost none of its appeal.

Airstream is currently enjoying renewed popularity among celebrities, event planners, and young travelers who appreciate its distinctively American blend of functionalism and beauty and air of nostalgia.

Born in the California backyard of inventor Wally Byam and inspired by a trailer designed by Hawley Bowlus, the famed chief builder of The Spirit of St. Louis, the Airstream’s modernist aesthetic has remained relatively unchanged in eight decades, and its industrial durability has earned a reputation without peer with more than 65 percent of all Airstreams still on the road today.

Following founder Wally Byam’s credo, “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements,” Airstream has remained a timeless classic throughout its 82-year history.

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
I saw a needle that winked its eye.
But I think I will have seen everything
When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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Have Vintage Trailer Will Rally

Over 315 vintage trailers and their owners will be participating in the 6th Annual “Trail Along to Pismo” Vintage Trailer Rally this weekend at Pismo Coast Village RV Resort in Pismo Beach, California.

5th Annual Trail Along to Pismo 2012; 1937 Hayes, Monte & Kay Osborn, Coloma, California (Source: vintagetrailercamp.com)
5th Annual Trail Along to Pismo 2012; 1937 Hayes, Monte & Kay Osborn, Coloma, California (Source: vintagetrailercamp.com)

The highlight of the weekend is the open house and swap meet on Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to a news release.

All the units will be decorated inside and out in vintage décor as they celebrate trailers built between 1930 and 1979. Resort guests and the public are welcome to join the fun and tour the units during the open house. There is no charge.

Anyone who is not a registered guest should park off the resort and walk into the event, as parking is not available on-site, said Jay Jamison, CEO/general manager of Pismo Coast Village RV Resort.

Attendees can see restored units from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s with names like Airstream, Boles Aero, Shasta, Silver Streak, Vagabond, Westcraft, and some one-of-a-kind. In addition, many of the units are towed with vintage vehicles such as Hudson, Ford and Chevy Pick-ups, Willys wagons, and numerous Woody wagons, stated Jamison.

Participants have planned activities such as a bowling tournament at Pismo Bowl, kite flying, an outdoor movie night, group meals, socials, and a “Trailer Trash” happy hour.

Future Vintage Trailer Rallies

Vintage Trailer Rally for Spartan Trailercoaches

Dates: July 26-28, 2013

Location: The Sou’Wester Lodge and RV Park, 3728 J Place, Seaview, WA 98644

Note: This weekend rally is an assembly of vintage Spartan Trailercoaches and their owners. Spartans of any year and any condition are welcome to participate. This event is not for other trailer brands; Spartans only.

For additional information, contact Don Denning at spartanrally@live.com

5th Annual Trail Along to Pismo 2012; 1941 Western Flyer Ledbetter (Source: vintagetrailercamp.com)
5th Annual Trail Along to Pismo 2012; 1941 Western Flyer
Ledbetter (Source: vintagetrailercamp.com)

39th Annual Old Time Fiddlers Picnic

Dates: August 2-4, 2013

Location: 1 mile south of Livingston, Montana, I-90 on US 89 (the Northern Gateway to the Yellowstone National Park and at the head of Paradise Valley)

Note: Tin Can Tourists are invited to gather in conjunction with the Picnic.

For additional information contact Dal Smilie at dalsmilie@aol.com

3rd Annual Ride the Wild Surf

Dates: October 11-13, 2013

Location: Newport Dunes RV Resort, 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660
Newport Dunes Resort is a 110-acre resort located in Newport Beach, Orange County California at the entrance to the Back Bay Nature Preserve and the Newport Bay Conservancy

Trailer Open House: Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Note: Bring your vintage trailer and join us at the Newport Dunes in beautiful Newport Beach

For additional information contact dkjennings@cox.net

Details

5th Annual Trail Along to Pismo 2012; 1948 Trailercraft Paul & Caroline Lacitinola Elverta, California (Source: vintagetrailercamp.com)
5th Annual Trail Along to Pismo 2012; 1948 Trailercraft
Paul & Caroline Lacitinola
Elverta, California (Source: vintagetrailercamp.com)

Vintage Trailer Camp

Website: vintagetrailercamp.com

6th Annual Trail Along to Pismo 2013

Dates: May 16-19, 2013

Location: Pismo Beach RV Resort, Pismo Beach, CA

Open House: May 18, 2013, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Pismo Coast Village RV Resort

Since its inception in 1975, Pismo Coast Village has received many awards and earned recognition as one of the best RV resorts in the U.S.

Address: 165 South Dolliver Street, Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Phone: 805) 773-1811 or (888) RVBEACH (782-3224)

Website: pismocoastvillage.com

Worth Pondering…

Our wish to you is this: drive a little slower, take the backroads sometimes, and stay a little longer. Enjoy, learn, relax, and then…plan your next journey.

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Vintage Trailer Transformed into Art Museum

Three artists based in Methow Valley, Washington, that span three generations are working together to revitalize their once-thriving logging community.

Reclaimed vintage Spartan travel trailer a new home for local Methow Valley artists. (Photo credit: Don Nelson)
Reclaimed vintage Spartan travel trailer a new home for local Methow Valley artists. (Photo credit: Don Nelson)

One of their projects involves restoring a 1951 Spartan Imperial Mansion travel trailer to display unique and experimental work from local, regional, and national artists.

The project started, as many ideas do, with some people sitting around talking and wondering if there might be a way to find some space with low or no overhead “an empty room somewhere” to display local artists’ work, free and open to the public on an “honor system” basis, according to a news release.

The artists—Matt Armbrust, Jeff Winslow, and Steve Ward—recalled hearing about an Airstream travel trailer that had been converted to a mobile art display.

Ward, an admitted Craigslist prowler, knew where to find it. Online browsing led him to Malaga, near Wenatchee where a 36-foot 1951 Spartan Imperial Mansion travel trailer was available. A top-of-the-line Spartan like this once cost about $6,000 new. This deteriorated hulk was going for $800.

Ward and Armbrust drove down to take a look. On first inspection, it didn’t look like much of a bargain.

Artists Jeff Winslow, left, Steve Ward and Matt Armbrust in the gutted interior of the Spartan travel trailer they are turning into a mobile art gallery. (Photo credit: Don Nelson)
Artists Jeff Winslow, left, Steve Ward and Matt Armbrust in the gutted interior of the Spartan travel trailer they are turning into a mobile art gallery. (Photo credit: Don Nelson)

“It was pretty grim,” Armbrust recalls.

“I looked at it and said, ‘no way.’ Then we got obsessed with it.”

Spartan Aircraft All-Aluminum Trailercoaches, which resemble Airstream trailers because of their smooth, shiny exterior, were manufactured from 1946 to 1960 by Spartan Aircraft Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma. At that time, the company was owned by legendary industrialist J. Paul Getty. Spartans were high-end travel trailers noted for their quality.

That was last summer. The Spartan is now on display—far from finished, but looking much better.

Deciding to buy it and getting it to the Methow Valley were separate challenges. That was resolved when valley resident Steve Morse agreed to tow the trailer back to the Methow, rolling on temporary tires Ward removed from a truck he owns.

So far, they have gutted the interior, stripped the paint, replaced the sub-flooring, and purchased an actual floor. They also reclaimed kiln slats that were once used for drying lumber and have invested a good deal of their own funding thus far.

Their home base is on the TwispWorks campus, a former U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station commissioned during the Great Depression and built by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

Located in downtown Twisp, TwispWorks is a community-driven project with the entire site comprising 17-buildings over 6.5-acres. Its board of directors has systematically restored and revitalized this historic area into spaces for artist studios, nonprofit organizations, and local businesses.

“We view this 36-foot classic camper as both an inspiring and challenging space for art installations,” they said in a news release.

“We want the Spartan to be a platform for experimental art, and a space for artists to take chances. From the viewer’s perspective, we want to engender excitement about art and engage them on a new level. ”

Despite numerous skilled artists in their region, show space for experimental/edgy art is limited and there are few ways for local artists to take their work on the road.

“We feel this is a crucial niche for engaging people in art and for encouraging artists to create works outside of a traditional gallery setting. We want to fill this gap through the creation of the Spartan Art Project,” they added.

Spartan Art Project (Photo credit: Don Nelson)
Spartan Art Project (Photo credit: Don Nelson)

In order to bring the Spartan up to form, the artists need to wire the interior, replace the windows, patch aluminum, install walls, put in a solar lighting system, and make a few upgrades that will make the Spartan officially roadworthy.

“We are working hard to use reclaimed, local products and accepting the donated time of the Methow Valley’s very skilled and generous community to finish the Spartan Art Project by spring 2013,” they added.

Worth Pondering…

Hold fast to your dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.

—Langston Hughes

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