The years between 2003 and 2008 were known for a lot of things, but will most likely be remembered as the era of extravagance. Everything had to be big: movies that routinely grossed over $100 million, homes that had bathrooms bigger than most houses of the 60’s, celebrity salaries that outpaced the gross national product of most small countries, and everything from luxury yachts to exotic cars were reaching unheard-of prices. It was true that nothing created success like excess. So in honor of the era of excess, I give you an excessively large pickup. Is this a personal vehicle? Why yes, it is.
This creation was commissioned by a rather well off contractor as a toy. Unlike the similar International CXT, it was created as a two-wheel-drive truck with a full locking rear differential offering similar traction on the street without the excess weight of a front drive axle. But why commission this vehicle, when you could have purchased an International? Well, when new, the CXT retailed at over $120,000. The Freightliner, based on the current Freightliner Business Class M2-106, sold new for a little over $93,000. You see, Freightliner has an option of a crew cab as well as an extended and regular cab. One of the little-known facts about the M2 is that the cab is aluminum, which creates a (relatively) light-weight cab that will be rust-free over the life of the vehicle. The engine that powers this truck is a Cummins ISC 6 cylinder diesel with over 330 horsepower and an astonishing 1000 lb/ft of torque. With this much torque, you could actually shift the earth’s axis (well, not really, but you catch my drift!). Just to make a point that this is no ordinary truck, there is a Cummins exhaust brake to slow the truck down without applying brakes, as well as a variable-geometry turbocharger tuned for greater efficiency and emission control. The transmission backing up all this power is an Allison 3000 6 Speed Automatic equipped with an electronic push button shifter control similar to the Chrysler push button controls of the past. To keep the transmission functioning at the proper temperature in case you want to tow your Garrison Colonial, there is a massive water-to-oil transmission cooler. Other truck-type goodies include a driver-controlled locking rear differential, a 10,000 pound air-ride rear suspension with leveling and dump valves, dual 60 gallon aluminum fuel tanks, Michelin 275/80R22.5 tires on polished aluminum rims, air-ride cab mounts, dual aluminum air horns, two electric city horns, chrome-trimmed grill, 3-piece bumper, air intake, and headlamp bezels, dual chrome power and heated mirrors with 8″ convex, composite sunvisor, and LED running lights. No, the pickup box is not a factory option, but a new GMC 3500 pickup bed including the rear bumper, tailgate, and bedliner that was located at a local equipment installation company. It was mounted to the truck and was painted the same Black Pearl Metallic Elite base coat with a clear coat finish that was applied to the rest of the truck. Ahh, but what makes this truck so spectacular is the interior. All the usual power conveniences are there, including power windows and door locks, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heavy-duty air conditioning, and a remote starter. However, the seats set this rig apart from almost any other truck-based pickup. They are custom Wil-Ro leather air-ride driver and passenger front seats with heat and air conditioning built in, multi-chamber air lumbar supports, and dual adjustable armrests. They inflate, they recline, they ride on air, they do everything but give you a blo…….. well, you know where this was going. According to the owner, these seats are more comfortable than the recliner in his living room. In the rear, there is also a leather sofa seat that also has heat and A/C with a center fold-down armrests, that electrically folds down into a bed. Electronic entertainment comes to you with a Clarion stereo system, offering AM/FM bands, a DVD player with a flip-up screen, DVD navigation, and an iPod dock. Of course there’s a Cobra CB radio included, and custom rubber floor mats complete the rugged yet comfortable look. I could go on and on about the other equipment offered on this fairly unique vehicle, like the custom trailer hitch, or the discreet backup camera, but let’s just say that this is no ordinary truck. It is a class 4 vehicle, as the GVW is under 20,000 pounds, so in most states you don’t need a commercial drivers license. And it’s practically new, showing just over 2,500 miles with an engine warranty for five years and 200,000 miles and two-year, unlimited mileage tow coverage. There is one very unique feature offered on this truck as well, and that is the On-Spot spinner chains, located next to the rear wheels. These are used on rescue vehicles, and can be engaged when extra traction is needed in snowy conditions. You should never get stuck with this vehicle, even in the mountains of Colorado. What is it like to drive this vehicle? Well, you will never mistake it for a sports car, or for a standard pickup for that matter. Starting the truck is just like starting your car, except the ignition is placed near your left kneecap, which takes a little getting used to. Once you release the parking brake by pushing a large yellow button on the dash and select “D” on the push-button transmission selector, you are off and running. There are distinct sounds with a vehicle like this, such as the droning of the large Cummins just ahead of you and the hiss of the air brakes once you release the brake pedal. The four-spoke steering wheel is exceptionally large, but it is rather appropriate in this setting. What is most surprising is the visibility this truck offers. The hood slopes away dramatically, and the driver is elevated above traffic far higher than in a standard SUV. This is truly command seating. Once you get used to the size of the vehicle it is rather normal to drive. The truck keeps up with normal traffic, and I saw an indicated 80 MPH while traveling on the interstate. The air ride seats really do a good job of dampening the rough sections, almost as if driving a luxury SUV. You have to be aware of the truck’s size, because it will not fit your normal parking space at the local mall. Nor will it fit into a parking garage with less than 9′ clearance. But that’s not the point of this truck, is it? If you own a horse farm, haul race cars, or have an overly large camping trailer, this is the vehicle of your dreams. And what would it take to own such a large piece of highway real estate? I couldn’t get a figure from the owner, but I will forward your inquiry to him if you’re interested. This truck will be very noticeable at the track, or the farm for that matter.