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Old 12-12-2014, 10:55 AM   #1
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Spartan and Freightliner

I said "and" rather than "vs." because I am not trying to start a fight. But I have noticed in my current NADA book, as I look for a new 42-45 foot motorhome, that coaches on Spartan chassis have a several grand advantage over the same unit on a Freightliner chasses (with tag).

I have heard owners rave about the ride of both on this forum. So does the Spartan chassis offer something that the Freightliner chassis doesn't?
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Old 12-12-2014, 11:41 AM   #2
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That's a difficult question to get a meaningful answer because there are many different grades of the Freightliner chassis whereas the Spartan are largely the same and all top-of-the line equipment. And few manufacturers offer the very same coach with your choice of chassis manufacturer anyway. I don't know anybody offering that choice today.

Spartan doesn't offer a low end version of its chassis - just "better" and "best", so in that sense it is perhaps superior. But the top end Freightliners are excellent too, with the same features and quality, and a "vs" discussion soon gets down to a Ford vs Chevy sort of debate.

As far as NADA and pricing goes, I think Spartan has a perception of superiority among many buyers. I think a lot of that comes from RV makers configuring low-end models with the cheapest chassis they can manage, and Freightliner accomodates them with a selection of low-end axle, suspension, engine and tranny choices. Spartan doesn't offer as many choices, so you won't find entry level rigs on a Spartan chassis. Or even many mid-level rigs. Thus the correlation of cheap coach - cheap (Freightliner) chassis.

I have an American Coach (Tradition) on a Freightliner. American Coach offered a chassis choice in 2004 & 2005 and built an identical coach on Spartan or Freightliner. They did that by using only the front and rear assemblies and built their own center "bridge". Most customers who cared chose Spartan - that perception I mentioned before - but the rest didn't care. Ten years later there doesn't seem to be any material difference. My Freightliner seems to have a few more issues with chassis air leaks, while the Spartans have more issues with chassis 12v. Both use the same engines and Allison tranny, so no difference there. And neither seems to have an advantage in long term reliability (both are pretty darn good). But the Spartan-based caches do indeed command a slightly higher price, at least on NADA.
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Old 12-12-2014, 03:06 PM   #3
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The reasoning was explained very well by Gary. Since Spartan's primary customers are for fire engines, some people are convinced their chassis is superior to others, perhaps that is so, but Spartan is not the only fire engine chassis manufacturer, the just happen to be the only one to also build MH chassis.

This is another Spartan/Freightliner discussion. IMO the brand of chassis is not a deal-breaker. What made the difference for me was rear-radiator vs side-radiator. A rear-radiator gets dirty much faster and thus required cleaning much more frequently. Engine service for a side-radiator is much more convenient, even changing the acc. drive belt on a rear-radiator chassis is a chore.
As far as longevity and strength, any of the modern DP MH chassis suits me.
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Old 12-12-2014, 03:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
That's a difficult question to get a meaningful answer because there are many different grades of the Freightliner chassis whereas the Spartan are largely the same and all top-of-the line equipment. And few manufacturers offer the very same coach with your choice of chassis manufacturer anyway. I don't know anybody offering that choice today.

Spartan doesn't offer a low end version of its chassis - just "better" and "best", so in that sense it is perhaps superior. But the top end Freightliners are excellent too, with the same features and quality, and a "vs" discussion soon gets down to a Ford vs Chevy sort of debate.

As far as NADA and pricing goes, I think Spartan has a perception of superiority among many buyers. I think a lot of that comes from RV makers configuring low-end models with the cheapest chassis they can manage, and Freightliner accomodates them with a selection of low-end axle, suspension, engine and tranny choices. Spartan doesn't offer as many choices, so you won't find entry level rigs on a Spartan chassis. Or even many mid-level rigs. Thus the correlation of cheap coach - cheap (Freightliner) chassis.

I have an American Coach (Tradition) on a Freightliner. American Coach offered a chassis choice in 2004 & 2005 and built an identical coach on Spartan or Freightliner. They did that by using only the front and rear assemblies and built their own center "bridge". Most customers who cared chose Spartan - that perception I mentioned before - but the rest didn't care. Ten years later there doesn't seem to be any material difference. My Freightliner seems to have a few more issues with chassis air leaks, while the Spartans have more issues with chassis 12v. Both use the same engines and Allison tranny, so no difference there. And neither seems to have an advantage in long term reliability (both are pretty darn good). But the Spartan-based caches do indeed command a slightly higher price, at least on NADA.
Thank you Gary. You put some real effort into that analysis and I appreciate your take on these chassis.

I mentioned I was looking at coaches with tags, but should have probably have been more specific to the Spartan MMGT & K2 compared to the Freightliner SL series. I can see where the much broader number of Freightliner offerings could easily cloud the issue.

I note that even your NADA numbers reflect roughly $2K more for the Spartan. Your thoughts as to why certainly make sense.
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Old 12-12-2014, 05:19 PM   #5
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Darn it Gary.....You answered that perfectly and well written too! Makes some of us grammar hacks look bad.

My only real experience with a DP chassis was my Monaco Diplomat on the proprietary Roadmaster chassis. I now have a Freightliner. I've been under and through it quite a bit and can't see (in this day and age) where you could make two substantially different chassis' when talking about front end and rear end. You put IFS on the front and axle plus tag on the rear. I think the only quality differences might be shock absorbers, brakes and ease of access of some components. Maybe I'm missing something.

I do feel my Freightliner loses air quickly and will have to look at that soon. A poster with a similar coach took his in to add air leveling and HWH found numerous air leaks while adding the leveling system.
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Old 12-12-2014, 07:34 PM   #6
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Yeah, the difference between FL and Spartan in a large, higher end coach amounts to small details. Maybe a different brand of IFS or rear axle, choice of shocks, that sort of thing. Spartan does do a nice job of maintenance access, though, at least for American Coach models.

Both chassis have good customer service via phone, though FL goes the extra mile with 24/7, and both have a outstanding factory service centers. FL has more service locations, including their motorhome-friendly Oasis dealers, but no edge in quality of the service network.

Not a whole lot to choose between them, in my book. Certainly would not be a deal maker/breaker for me.
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