By Bryan Martin
Glider kits – it’s a term we hear a lot lately. But I have found that in many of the conversations I get involved in, some folks are confused as to what a “kit” really is. Well, all that is about to change, right here, right now. Listen up.
A glider kit is a brand-new truck body, mounted on a pair of new frame rails. It includes a cab assembly, hood, sleeper (if equipped), radiator, steer axle, front tires/wheels, fuel tanks and battery boxes.
A traditional glider kit lacks an engine, transmission, rear suspension and axles. However, “rolling” glider kits are gaining in popularity. A rolling glider includes a complete rear suspension, with new drive axles, rear tires/wheels and a fifth wheel.
Back in the ’80s, my dad bought several IHC 4300 glider kits, and even a few 9370 IHCs. These bad boys cost under $30,000. If you owned an old worn-out cabover with a big cam Cummins, a 13-speed and a decent suspension, you could transfer that drivetrain into the new kit. In a few weeks you had a “new” rig for well under $50,000.
Today, it’s a little bit different story, depending on whether it is a standard kit or a rolling kit and how loaded up it is with accessories.
A glider will cost between $75,000 and $97,000. Then, by the time you get your powertrain, clutch, drive-shafts, batteries, cables, hoses and all the miscellaneous parts gathered up, paid for and installed, you will likely be approaching a new truck price.
It astounds me what these rigs cost these days. But guess what? People are waiting in line to buy them.
Why a kit? Several reasons, but the first and foremost is to avoid having a new truck that is loaded down with all the DPF filters, DEF fluid, EGRs and other undesirable emission restrictions that we all are frustrated with. By installing an older engine in a new kit, you can avoid all of the clutter on the emission system.
Another glider kit advantage is, it is typically exempt from federal excise tax. So, you will save thousands by building a kit truck versus driving a new truck off the dealership lot and paying all the FET on it.
Lastly, who among us doesn’t like that new truck feel? New leather, new dash, a tight new cab without all the drafts, squeaks and rattles of your old rig. It is incredibly fulfilling to ride around in comfort, lookin’ sporty in your new truck, having the peace of mind that you know how to maintain and trouble shoot your engine. And, you grin just a bit when you look at your title and see the numbers 2012.
What brand? It is my understanding that only three manufacturers are currently offering glider kits: Peterbilt, Freightliner and Western Star. If you purchase a kit through Freightliner or Western Star, they even offer a factory-installed remanufactured engine option if you prefer. Kenworth dropped their kit offering several years ago.
Most popular kit engine? It seems like 75 percent of our customers are searching for the infamous Cat C15 single turbo engines that were manufactured from 2000 to 2003 beginning with serial 6NZ. That engine has an outstanding reputation of being one of the best engines ever built. These 6NZ engines are becoming somewhat difficult to find because of strong demand and short supply. We’ve also built several new kits using Cat ACERT twin turbo engines and a few with Detroit Series 60s or Cummins IS engines with great results, too.
So there you have it. You have now graduated from Boss Man’s “15-minute Glider Kit Crash Course.”
Until our next rendezvous, I have but one wish (well, really, I guess it’s three wishes). May your loads be light, your rates be high, and your PrePass light forever burn green. LL