RV Business, May 2000 - Original Location
Note: This article was written previous to the purchase by Startracks Custom Vehicles in Elkhart, IN. The design of a new line of Class C motorhomes -- the 2000 Xplorer Xcursion -- isn't bound in tradition. For one thing, the Xcursion is built on a DaimlerChrysler Dodge Ram 3500 cutaway pickup frame. And, the Xcursion offers buyers a diesel option that usually is not available in minimotorhomes.
But the 25-foot Xcursion traces its roots to industry pioneer Ray Frank, who started building motorhomes in 1958 when they were still called "house cars." Ray Frank's son, Ron, sold controlling interest in Frank Industries Inc., dba Xplorer Motor Homes, Brown City, Mich., in 1995.
The Xcursion is Frank Industries; first undertaking outside the Class B market since the company's ownership changed. The Xcursion is among the few so-called "chassis mounts" on the market.
"We produced this size to get started," said Senior Vice President Joe E. Murray. "Ultimately, we will let the market take the product where it will."
Murray and Frank President David Bockstanz, a Michigan Chrysler dealer, bought the company after it experienced a series of financial setbacks.
Xplorer built its last Class C in the mid-1980s and emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991. The company stopped manufacturing Class A motorhomes in 1994 after only a brief stint.
"The company was in a southward spiral for a long time," Murray said. The partners assumed full control of the company in 1999, and until the 2000 Xcursion, Xplorer restricted its offerings to the Class B Xplorer motorhome line.
Frank employs 55 people and manufactures Class B and Class C motorhomes in a 42,000-square-foot plant. The company plans to build between 75 and 100 Xcursions in 2000, which will be sold at 30 dealerships nationwide. "We are not actively seeking dealers for the Xcursion because we know we can sell our capacity through the year," Murray said.
Production of the Xcursion, available in six floorplans, began earlier this year.
"We feel that we fill a niche at the higher end," Murray said. "A lot of people who have owned large RVs who are in the downsizing process will buy this product. It offers a lot of things that a conventional Class C does not. It has a pickup cab and chassis, so it has lots of legroom and drives almost like an automobile."
The Xcursion frame is aluminum and covered with molded fiberglass that it manufactures on-site.
Features include a seamless fiberglass roof, 30 cubic feet of storage space, vinyl wallpaper over luan on the ceilings and walls, 6-foot-4-inch standing room, white laminated cabinets with raised-panel doors and drawers, linoleum kitchen and bath floors, a custom-made monitor panel, a 25,000-Btu LP-gas forced-air furnace, a 15,000-Btu air-conditioner with ceiling ducts and an Onan 4000 air-cooled generator.
The company chose a chassis-mount frame because of its existing relationship with DaimlerChrysler and a lack of such products in the marketplace.
"A Class C on a pickup chassis seemed like a good product niche, rather than coming in with a traditional Class C," Murray said. "This company always has been engineering driven. This follows that lead."
-- Bob Ashley