Custom RV Haulers
“If some is good, more is better, and too much is just right!” Most of us recognize this as the mantra for an extreme lifestyle, but there is some truth to it. With the exceptions of alcohol, pork fat and high explosives (especially when used in combination), having too much of a good thing is, well, good — especially when it comes to tow rigs.
Having more tow vehicle than you need means you’ll always have plenty of towing capacity, horsepower, payload and braking to ensure a safe journey, and the bigger the trailer, the more important the tow rig becomes. After all, there are those of us who aren’t satisfied with readily available fifth-wheel trailers and want something custom that fulfills every desire. Part and parcel to this “no compromises” attitude is bringing everything along for the ride, from motorcycles to golf carts to small cars. If you count yourself among this elite few, then a truck from the lot of your local dealership probably isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need to go custom.
Lucky for you, a number of companies can handle your needs, from building a personalized Ford F-350 to a medium-duty Freightliner originally intended for commercial use. Each company has its own offerings and methodology for providing dream trucks for RVers, from customizing what you already have to starting from scratch with an order form. To make the shopping experience easier, we’re highlighting some of the more popular truck-conversion companies that have been in business for 20 years or more and have a long track record of high-quality work. Let’s go extreme shopping!
You could say that Valparaiso, Indiana-based Classy Chassis Custom Truck Conversions is as much a consulting business as it is a truck upfitter. “What we do, and the reason we exist, really, is to help mid to large fifth-wheel-trailer customers,” explains Classy Chassis owner Tom Martin. “By help, we mean advise them on buying the right truck — the safest one possible.”
“With so many issues to consider, from bed-to-trailer clearance to misleading tow ratings and inaccurate trailer weights, RVers can end up with a truck that’s not big and strong enough for their application,” Martin explains. “It can get really confusing for the first-time buyer, and they can easily make a lot of mistakes.”
Established in 1975, Classy Chassis uses a simple “good, better, best” scenario to help customers find the right truck in terms of load ratings and tow capacity. With this in mind, the most popular models are the Chevy 3500 dually, Ford F-450 and Ram 5500, the latter of which begins life as a cab and chassis and is then upfitted in-house.
“The Ram 5500 is the top of the line in terms of towing and weight-carrying capacity,” Martin says. “There aren’t many trailers that it can’t tow, and it will carry up to 7,500 pounds of pin weight and cargo. I feel safe towing up to 26,000 pounds with that one,” Martin adds, though he acknowledges that the factory rating is higher than that.
To this platform, Martin and his team add a Kelderman air-ride rear suspension, a Classy Chassis aluminum Haul-It-All bed, an auxiliary fuel tank, a Hensley or Comfort Ride fifth-wheel hitch and other details. With a body shop on site, the company can provide custom or matching paint but leaves the interior pretty much as is. “We start with a Ram 5500 Laramie, which is loaded to begin with — leather seating, climate control, power everything. There’s really not much to add except for some auxiliary switches.”
The ordering process is likewise painless. Martin tries to keep a few of the most popular models and color combinations on his lot, and usually has others on order. If you choose to start from scratch, expect to wait six weeks for the truck to be delivered and another six for the upfitting. Classy Chassis can also upfit an existing truck and accepts trades.