When it comes to finding the world’s best flatbed semi trailer, the situation gets complex to say the least. It’s all a matter of towing and hauling abilities, you might say—and you would be partly right. However, 15,000-pound trailers aside, finding the best vehicle in this class takes into account a wider range of specifications and arguments. In what follows, we take a look at two vehicles that fall into this category: one that has been reigning as its uncrowned king for quite a while, and another, which started out as a concept car with too much promise not to be turned into a reality.
The Ram 5500 Long Hauler
This concept truck took a Ram HD MegaCab, which it affixed onto a 5500 chassis, whose wheelbase stood at an impressive 197.4 inches. Inside, it came equipped with an inline-six cylinder turbo-Diesel Cummins engine. The engine’s production capacities are 305 in horsepower and 510 pounds-feet of torque. Other specs include an Aisin AS68RC 6-speed transmission system, mounted onto the Dana S111 axle, with 4.88:1 gears. The airbag suspension is a customized, heavy-duty system from Kelderman, and the entire vehicle runs on a three-tank engine, which is able to hold up to 170 gallons. It also has a seven-gallon exhaust fluid tank. According to the producer, the truck’s gross vehicle weight rating is an impressive 19,500 pounds.
The Ford F450
This one-off pickup only comes with a dual rear-wheel 8-foot bed, whose singular powertrain combo also involves a 6.7 liter engine from Powerstroke, in turbo-Diesel. The V8 engine has been paired up with the six-speed automatic transmission system from TorqShift. There are several trim levels for this flatbed semi: the XL, the XLT, the Lariat, and, of course, the supreme ruler of haulers, the King Ranch. The trucks runs on a Dana Super 60 front axle, which, prior to its use on this truck, was strictly relegated to use as a medium-duty axle. The crew cab and long bed wheelbase is 172.4, with a 4,920-pound payload on the 2011 model, and 5,260 pounds for the 2012 model. The only available wheels are LT245/75R17 forged wheels.
According to the test runs undertaken by industry experts, the Long Hauler from Ram beats the 3500 HD by a few seconds, but still has got nothing on the similar trucks from Ford, or even GM. However, it does outperform them in exhaust-brake tests, indicating that, in terms of control, the F-Series could still use a couple of improving tweaks here and there.