Body Style

It's a Truck!

It should be cute.

It should be functional.

It should be small on the outside and large on the inside, like a TARDIS.


We went through months of discussion about body style and the relative weights of form and function.  Finally consensus was reached and the Supreme, Inner City body was chosen.

There are several manufacturers of truck bodies, which can be placed on chassis for various vehicle manufacturers, typically Ford or Chevy/GMC.  From a survey of commercial truck dealers in our area, Supreme seemed to be a common brand of body and early contacts indicated they could accommodate a variety of customizations needed for the grooming vehicle.  We owe special thanks to Dave Powell, the Supreme representative in St. Louis.

Most commercial trucks are routine combinations of chassis and body, and the bodies tend to be simple boxes.  We made Dave jump through hoops over a range of details from generator, to LP gas tanks, to mirrors, paneling, and more.

Most commercial grooming conversion vehicles use extended roof vans or Glaval-style bodies.  We looked at these as starting points.  The standard van bodies didn't offer the capacity for our design.  The Glaval-style bodies, familiar as airport shuttles, were large enough, but Trey preferred the more rigid, rectangular shell of the Supreme Inner-City body.


The design includes complete separation of the grooming area from the cab.  Experience has shown that hair and moisture from the grooming area should be separated from the cab.  Entrance to the grooming area is through a 32" door on the curb side.  All support equipment is housed in a compartment at the rear of the vehicle.  There is a complete partition 26" from the rear, separating the grooming and equipment areas.


The body construction is FRP, or fiberglass reinforced paneling.  The default construction of the Inner City body is an aluminum skin on aluminum ribs, typically with a light plywood sheathing on the inside.  FRP is an inch thick sandwich of plastic and plywood.  Barb had a strong preference for this since it does not have any rivets to interfere with appearance/graphics.  The interior of the body is paneled with 3/4" plywood, covered with a 1/8" plastic laminate called Chemlite.


Insulation was important to operator comfort.  Everything that could be insulated was.  The outside walls, separating partition and roof were firred out and insulated with injected polyurethane foam.  Two types of insulation were available for the floor based on whether the body was lowered, with wheel wells, or sitting on the chassis rails with a flat floor.  Since the floor was raised to accommodate the generator, the heavier insulation possible with the flat floor was used.  Side and rear doors are insulated, as is the underside of the step well.  Windows in the grooming area were left to last until all interior furnishings were complete.  Windows are made from insulated glass units.


An upgraded laminated oak floor was provided by Supreme.  An aftermarket vendor will apply a sprayed-on flooring material, similar to that used for pickup truck liners.


Ultimately, Supreme provided the Onan generator in a custom under-body toolbox with pull-out shelf for maintenance. 

LP Gas

The undercarriage LP gas tank, manufactured by Manchester Tank, was supplied by Supreme, based on a custom design.  Details of this installation can be found here.  The LP gas tank was mounted between the frame rails rather than simply "hung out" under the body, exposed to the elements, road debris and collision hazard.  The rear of the tank is protected by 12" of steel making up the custom bumper assembly.


Mirrors for the vehicle were important.  Mirror selections from Ford were superior to those available directly from GMC.  Since we chose a GMC chassis, research was required to find satisfactory mirrors.  On the "Version 1" vehicle, based on a short school bus, Barb got used to "West Coast" style side mirrors and blind spot mirrors on the front fenders.  More info on mirror selection and source...