This is one of the nicest RV rigs you'll find on any highway. It's the conception of the Mitchell family and includes a SportChassis by Freightliner, an Elite Suite fifth-wheel by DRV and of course a Smart Passion. Mr. Mitchell, who recently attended and showed his stuff at a Freightliner event, was kind enough to write a great article about his Smart car transformation. Hopefully he'll tell us more about his impressive achievement and his Smart car travels? You'll note he tows his Smart with all wheels on the ground.
This is a little background to what led to the eventual purchase of our SMART CAR. In 2007, we took a two plus month RV trip to Alaska, pulling our 5th wheel with a GMC pickup. The pickup pulled the 5th wheel just fine, but did a very poor job of stopping the unit safely. Within three weeks of the start of the trip I told my wife that when we get home we are going to buy a "Real Truck" to pull the coach.
When we returned to California, I started an intensive search for the best medium duty truck designed to pull an RV. It didn't take long to determine that the Freightliner by Sport Chassis was far and away the best built luxury truck, which we purchased.
The 5th wheel that we had at the time was expensive but poorly constructed and the frame failed twice. The first time it cost the manufacture almost $12K to repair. The second time the frame broke; it could not be repaired, they ignored us, so it is still in litigation for almost 18 months.
So we went out and found a new quality built coach, which we pretty much had custom built. One of the main features was full body paint with the primary color matching the freightliner color.
Driving the GMC to Home Depot, Lowe's & Wal-Mart was one thing. Driving the Freightliner was quite another, so I placed a reservation for a Smart Car which would serve two purposes. One it would provide me with around town transportation and two it makes a great "TOW" vehicle, as it was designed to be flat towed [all wheels on the ground]. I placed my order in September 2008, with an expected delivery date of May 2010.
In October 2008, I was talking to a friend in Florida about Smart Cars and the waiting time and how I don't even buy "green" bananas, let alone plan 18 months out.
He said it sounds like you are in a hurry to get a Smart Car, I said I was. He said that he might be able to help and just might be able to get me one in less that a week.
Long story short and not to get anybody in trouble, in five days I got a call at 7:30 AM California time stating that a car was available if I wanted it. It was just what I had accepted, plus a few extras. I bought it in and we flew back east to Michigan and drove it over 3000 mile back to California. It handled just great, including headwinds up to 45MPH and speeds up to governed speed limit.
The Smart car we purchased was black with the silver tridion. A great stock color combination, but it didn't go well with our Freightliner and the DRV "Elite Suite", so the smart thing to do was to paint our new Smart Fortwo so it matched the Elite Suite as I had already accented our Freightliner to match the Elite Suite.
I have a great friend who said that if I would take the car apart and do all the sanding and preparation he would paint the car for me, for a reasonable fee. I had no idea how to take a Smart Car apart, but after taking it apart and putting it back together five times, I got to know how to do it.
The car is five different colors. Each color consists of four coats and the whole car was clear coated at least three times. All the painting and clear coating was done while the car was disassembled, except the tridion.
To paint the tridion three different colors and clear coat, required that the entire interior and the exterior of the car, including both sides of both doors be papered and masked off four times. Imagine masking off an entire car inside and out, just to paint two 11 inch by 2 inch gold stripes going diagonally across the tridion, one on each side. There was an estimated 60 hours of hand work, plus about 7-8 hours of painting. There was enough masking paper and masking tape to paint over six full size automobiles.