One of the incredibly cool vehicles at the NTEA show was the Ram Long-Hauler, a concept designed to appeal to truck guys who tow heavy loads over long distances. Based on a Class 5 (Ram 5500) platform, the vehicle uses a Mega Cab layout, plus the long bed -- the 8-footer. As Ram explained it, "Ram Truck has identified a potential market for a Class 5 pickup, including race car teams, car haulers, RV owners, ranchers, rodeo competitors, boaters, and commercial expediting operations." This truck is a monster, too -- its wheelbase is 197.4 inches, and overall length is about 288 inches (24 feet). GCW is an incredible 37,500 pounds, and curb weight is about 9300 pounds. While the Long-Hauler is a concept based on a commercial truck, there are plenty of things you can add to your own truck to make it the ideal long hauler for your needs. And while we mention specific examples, there are plenty of brands from which to choose.
1. Fuel Supply One of the key features of the Long-Hauler is its ability to go long distances without having to stop. Thanks to its fuel capacity of 170 gallons from three fuel tanks, we would guess it has a potential 2000-mile range. That's a tough attribute to replicate, but you can come close by adding an external fuel tank from Transfer Flow. Sizes go up to 98 gallons, for diesel and gas engines. Prices start at about $900 per tank.
2. Riding High If you're hauling cargo cross-country, you'll want to make sure you ride in comfort. The Long-Hauler has a Kelderman air suspension for just that reason. The air suspension will provide a cushy ride without reducing your truck's towing capacity. Prices start at $1500.
Kelderman Air Ride
3. Wheelin' To get wheels like the ones seen on the concept,
you can order a set of Alcoas. The aluminum wheels here are 19.5-inchers, but there are designs, such as the Classic 8, for eight-lug trucks that are similar to those on the Long-Hauler. Classic 8 wheels cost
about $350 each.
4. Keeping Your Guard Up The Ram was displayed with a chrome bull bar that resembles Go Rhino Products' 7000 Series StepGuard. This unit is available with a polished stainless finish, and comes with a built-in step. Pricing starts at about $500 for a half-ton, more for an HD pickup.
Go Rhino! Products
5. Getting Tired The Contintental HDRs seen on this truck are size 225/70R19.5, and they'll probably run about $280 a tire. They are for medium-duty trucks only. If your wheels are a smaller size, you can consider Toyo's Open Country H/T with Tuff Duty. These tires, available for 16- and 17-inch wheels, are designed for high-torque engines
(diesels), especially those that power trucks that tow trailers. For a larger wheel, the Open Country H/T starts at about $150 a tire.
6. Leather Furniture Odds are you won't be able to
duplicate the exact pattern of this truck's interior, but you can get custom seats done by Katzkin. Options include seat heaters, custom piping, and custom embroidery. Two-row interiors start at about $2000, without any of the extras.
Katzkin Leather, Inc.
7. Are We There Yet? If you have impatient rear-seat passengers, an overhead DVD player can help -- and the Long-Hauler was built with one. Alpine's PKG-RSE2 comes with a 10.2-inch screen and a pair of wireless headphones, plays DVDs and CDs, and has inputs for game systems and video cameras. It will work with many factory audio systems. $699.
Alpine Electronics of America, Inc.
8. Do Look Back If you want a backup camera for your truck, Rostra Precision Controls has several options for you, from a screen integrated into the rearview mirror to a separate display that can be mounted on the headliner. These cameras can help when aligning your truck with a trailer, and are an extra safety feature when backing up. They are also compatible with vehicles that already have navigation systems. Expect prices to start at around $400.
Rostra Precision Controls
9. Where Are We? In case your truck doesn't already have a nav system, you can get an external unit, or you can replace your original-equipment head unit with one from Sony, which comes with
TomTom nav. The multimedia XNV-660BT has a 6.1-inch touch screen, digital MP3 player, and Bluetooth, and comes with maps of the United States and Canada. It also has a portable navigation module. Prices start at about $900.
10. Quiet Down The Long-Hauler received a quiet-tuning package that helps reduce noise levels in the cab. One way you can give your truck a quieter interior is by installing sound-deadening material. Some kits include pieces that are pre-cut to fit your specific make and model truck; others can be cut to fit. Supplies can cost $350 and up.
11. Make Your Own WiFi Hotspot Autonet
Mobile can turn your truck into a Wi-Fi hotspot, where up to 20 people can connect to wireless, up to 150 feet away from the truck. There is also CarFi, which includes a wireless router and docking station, allowing you to move it from one vehicle to another. You can also use it to track fleet vehicles. The service starts at $29 a month, hardware not included.
12. Tailgate Party The tailgate you see here was custom-built for the Long-Hauler, and unfortunately, there are no aftermarket tailgates that look quite as integrated as this one. However, others on the market can allow easier access when hooking up a fifth-wheel. The unit from Handy Industries has steel louvers, still opens from the center, and costs $280 for all applications.
13. Charge!!! The Long-Hauler has an inductive charger on board, a feature you can easily add to your ride. Energizer's Qi gives passengers a cordless way to charge iPods, smartphones, portable GPS/navs, and digital cameras, without dealing with the dreaded cord spaghetti that results when you need to charge multiple devices. The charger costs about $110 and charges three devices. Smaller chargers costs less. For some inductive charges, the batteries for all the devices you're charging would need to be replaced with inductive-chargeable units.
14. Safeguarding To keep valuables out of sight and under lock and key, you may want to consider a safe. (Yes, the Long-Hauler has that, too.) Some can be tucked under a seat, others can sit anywhere and attach to your truck with a steel cable. Diversion makes a safe that will fit in your truck's center console. Each safe is made from 12-gauge steel, and runs about $250-$300.
15. Engauging Want to keep an eye on key operating parameters, but lack the extra gauges? If you want supplemental gauges similar to those of the Long-Hauler, Auto Meter offers a rear-axle temperature gauge (about $60) and a pyrometer (measures exhaust gas temperature--about $190). There's also a turbo boost pressure gauge, which you can find at PPE ($80). Styles and colors vary and can be installed in a multigauge pod. Auto Meter also has gauges for gas-powered trucks.
Pacific Performance Engineering
16. Staying Cool If you know you're going to be on the road for a while, you don't want to get stuck drinking warm soda, do you? Several companies make fridge/freezer combinations, but Daddy Cool makes a center console that includes two chilled cupholders, plus a 6-gallon fridge that can hold up to 18 cans. It uses thermoelectric refrigeration (no liquids, no gas), and costs $499.
Daddy Cool Limited