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Robb Design Portfolio: Rise and Shine

Douglas McWhirter

1937 Spartan 7W Executive

In 1937, the Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co. of Duncan, Okla., paid roughly $23,500 for a startlingly overpowered, polished-aluminum monoplane to ferry its top management in high style. This aircraft, a Spartan Executive, cocooned passengers in the kind of stitched-leather comfort typically found in Packard limousines, while rocketing them across the sky at the unheard-of speed of 200 mph.

The Spartan Aircraft Co., owned by oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, created its Executive line specifically for Depression-era customers like Halliburton: cash-rich oil businesses whose brass savored life’s finer things. Aviation historians now consider the 34 Executives that Spartan manufactured between 1935 and 1940 the first corporate luxury aircraft.

Halliburton’s 1937 Executive changed hands numerous times over the years before Steve Marini, a collector from Danville, Calif., acquired the plane in 2000. Marini restored the aircraft—one of only 12 Executives still in existence—and estimates its value at more than $1 million. "It’s a dream to fly, but I only take it out once a month," he says. "Wiping all that polished aluminum down is hard work."

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