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Its happens when you least expect it, after a day of hard highway charging your walking along the long line of vehicles parked at the rest stop and it hits you all at once. You feel the insatiable need for a bigger truck. Your palms get sweaty, vision blurred and you suddenly have an attack of chrome and custom paint lust. What to do; is having the most chromed up custom big rig enough of a reason to trade your trusty dually? Well maybe, but perhaps there are other “beyond the bling” reasons for considering an upgrade.

Since 1997 the folks at Freightliner Specialty Vehicles or FSV have been crafting the SportChassis which just might be the ultimate toyhauler; uhh hauler. Clinton, Oklahoma is the location where every day Freightliner Business Class trucks that might commonly serve human kind as a tow or box truck or even an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance or fire, get up fitted into a rig that can not only safely tow your toyhauler, but transport your friends and family in high style.

The SportChassis first step to leaving its working class heritage behind is the addition of an all aluminum custom body complete with well integrated fabricated aluminum side steps.

I had a chance to have an up close look at FSV’s workmanship and it can be considered show quality. The tow bed which measures 6 1/2’ wide by 9 1/3’ long and features polished diamond plate. The SportChassis website states that’s big enough to hold a king size mattress in the horizontal position but standing next to this rig I had visions of heading for Home Depot and loading up a bunch of 4’X 8’ plywood sheets and being the envy of everyone in the loading zone.

Enclosed storage ranges from about 20 cubic feet in the 114” body of the RHA114 model to 419 cubic feet in the RHL 185. The 185 features a garage aft of the cab that’s big enough to hold a pair of Harley’s an ATV or perhaps something less glamorous.

Cargo doors operated smoothly with perfectly fit and finish. By the way if you are a fan of the art of welding you will appreciate the stacked dime appreance of the welds FSV’s craftspeople laid down.

Using the optional air operated fifth wheel hitch the SportChassis can tow over 25,000 pounds which significantly bests all of the heavy duty dually pickups. Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) comes in around 40,000lbs. depending on model. A “Stinger” frame mounted ball hitch is also included for more traditional towing.

Standard power comes in form of MBE 900 7.2 liter diesel with 300 HP @ 2200 RPM and 860lb/ft of torque. You can upgrade for more ponies with an optional engine rated at 330 HP and 1000lb/ft of torque. Both engines are sourced from Mercedes which keeps things “all in the family” since both Freightliner and Mercedes are part of the DaimlerChrysler group. Power flows through an Allison 3200 TRV six-speed automatic transmission. FSV says mileage comes in at 10 MPG, with duel 50 gallon aluminum fuel tanks giving a 1000 mile range. Of course the more toys you are tugging the less mileage, so use that 10 MPG as a rough guide. Factor in the standard power steering, air suspension and the ride enhancement package and the SportChassis just might be able to handle daily errand runs when not towing your toyhauler. Since the trucks do not have air brakes and are under 26,000 lbs. a CDL or Commercial Drivers License is not required.

But even though you don’t need a CDL you’ll still get to look like a long haul trucker. Big Rig goodies like west coast mirrors, dual air horns a chrome roof mounted turbo wing and my favorite vertical chrome exhaust stacks make you feel like you’re hauling for a living. Add in the optional triple chromed strut grill, which by the way is a $6,980 option and you’ll look like you just paid a visit to the Chrome Shop Mafia. FSV custom paints the SportChassis by hand and lays down some incredible show quality two tone custom hues.

The view from behind the SportChassis wheel is panoramic. The windshield features 2500 square inches of glass. Coupled with a downward sloping hood and high seating position visibility is not and issue. And there’s enough head room for 7’ foot driver to wear a ten gallon hat and never hit the headliner.

On the inside the option list is so long you could wear down a dozen pencils ticking off all the options. While the standard OEM interior is plastic and vinyl, there are no less than seven interior colors and a bundle of interior upgrades available including burl wood and ostrich inserts. Electronics can include a Pioneer DVD navigation, a variety of high powered stereos with Kicker speakers, Inmotion Satellite systems for television and internet access and tilt down flat screen TV’s. Seating can include four air ride captains’ chairs or power lay down sofa that converts to a bed.

The SportChassis starts at about $106,000 and averages approximately $130,000 and will climb upward significantly if you get aggressive with the option sheet.

Now besides the chrome, the vertical exhaust stacks and those leather air ride seats there are some other good reasons to consider stepping up to something bigger than a dually pickup for tugging your toyhauler. According to FSV, research shows that 75 percent of fifth-wheel trailer owners that are towing their trailer with a 1-ton pickup are exceeding the weight limit for their vehicle. They claim their SportChassis trucks are safer than a 1-ton pickup since the trailer is towed by a fifth wheel hitch mounted to the frame rails instead of the truck body and its brakes are twice as big as those commonly mounted on a one ton pickup truck.

So you say your ready to upgrade but you just can’t see yourself driving a vehicle with out a tail gate? No problem SportChassis also offers their P2 model that mounts a traditional pickup type bed on to the Freightliner chassis, so no excuse for bowing out of the next tailgate party.

Don't forget to check out their website at www.sportchassis.com.

-Frederick Staab


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