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Central Park

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

The vast majority of motorhomes built through the years have had the engine at one end or
the other. While the Spartan Chassis people may not have been first with the idea of
putting the engine in the middle (and, in fact, at least two companies presently build
mid-engine coaches), Spartan is currently the sole provider of mid-engine motorhome
chassis. Introduced amidst fanfare a few years ago when pictured with a Mini Cooper riding
in the garage of a Travel Supreme ME coach, the Me2 chassis is one of two that Spartan
offers. The Me2 is the larger of the pair, and is open to any design aft of the rear
wheels; the NVS that debuts for 2006 is a more typical straight-rail unit from end-to-end,
with a Cummins ISC 330 ahead of the rear axle. Anyone with knowledge of sports cars is
aware that the easiest way to ensure good handling characteristics — grip, transient
response, and balance — is to place the engine in the middle of the car. The reasoning is
simple: Handling is all about weight distribution. Locating the single heaviest item —
most frequently, the engine — in the center of the vehicle improves balance and weight
distribution. Granted, this is an oversimplification — and we aren’t intimating that
mounting the engine amidships will make a 34,600-pound motorhome handle like a Ferrari —
but in terms of vehicle dynamics, the best place for a 1,600-pound chunk of Cummins iron is
down low in the middle of the chassis. The ME is built on a 267-inch wheelbase with a gross
vehicle weight rating (gvwr) of 29,000-34,600 pounds and 10,000-pound tow rating; a
tag-axle version is available for coachbuilders who need a higher gvwr. Our test coach
weighed in at 31,490 pounds, with about 750 pounds available on the front axle and 2,350 at
the rear; if you loaded the deck to its rated maximum and put two people on board, the
remaining payload is 802 pounds. New for 2006 is a ZF steering system for the Tuthill
independent suspension with air bags and Bilstein shocks; the same manufacturer builds the
rear suspension. Brakes are drum all around, and while some of us anticipated front discs
might appear at this price point, the brakes did an admirable job. For full specs and more
details on Spartan’s Me2 chassis, pick up the June 2005 issue of MotorHome magazine on the
newsstand — then subscribe to
so you can stay informed on the latest motorhome technical information, road
tests, previews, products and travel destinations. Spartan Chassis, (517) 543-6400,

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