In the market for a place to lay your head? Look no further than the Arizona car auctions. Seriously. One bidder who apparently likes to go RVing in style—no, it wasn’t Tom Selleck—slapped down $351,500 for an appropriately named 1951 Spartan Royal Mansion at RM Sotheby’s on Friday night.
That many Benjamins will get you a decent house—minus the wheels—in Boston, Miami, D.C., and even right there in the Valley of the Sun. Heck, if you enjoy snow, it’ll get you three houses in Syracuse. In spirited bidding that ended with applause from the auction crowd gathered at The Biltmore in Phoenix, one determined bidder rolled off with a portable home worthy of a 30-year mortgage.
What makes the palatial camper worthy of that kind of cash? We’ll explain. Resembling more commonly seen Airstream models, this teardrop, aluminum-bodied road home was built by the Spartan Trailer Company, launched in 1945 by wealthy industrialist J. Paul Getty. Spartan built high-end travel trailers for wealthy clients and they were widely acknowledged to be the best-built and most lavishly-equipped on the market in the late 1940s and ’50s.
After changing its name to Spartan Manor, the company launched the Royal Mansion in 1948, and the extravagant camper soon became known as the “Cadillac” of the industry. The top-of-the-line dual-axle 1951 Spartan Royal Mansion carried an original base price of more than $4700—the equivalent of about $46,500 today.
The one that sold at RM has been completely and meticulously restored inside and out, and no detail was overlooked—right down to the embroidered pillow cases, original mid-century interior furnishings, and accompanying lawn furniture. Upgrades include an Air-lift Gen IV suspension system with remote control, electro-magnetic brake drums on all four wheels, Goodyear tires on 15-inch steel wheels, three remote-control ceiling fan ventilators, microwave oven, and complete entertainment system with Bose sound, Blu-Ray DVD player, LED flat-screen TV, and an iPod dock.
All this for only $351K. For the record, you can get a pretty nice home in Denver for that.