(Production) vehicle of choice
My work vehicle is a 1999 Ford E-350 15 passenger Club Wagon with most of the bench seats removed.
It's been a good reliable workhorse and I can fit quite a lot of gear in it, but is getting a little long in the tooth.
I'm thinking of replacing it with a Dodge Sprinter, complete with Mercedes diesel engine.
I've heard nothing but great things about them, although their height precludes them from entering a lot of parking garages.
What are you guys driving?
I know Chevrolet came out with a cargo van a few years agothat has doors that open on both sides, as well as 4WD, which can really come in handy.
I couldn't think of a better replacement for a full sized van than the Sprinter! The ability to standup in the cargo space can not be undervalued. A diesel engine runs forever with very little maintainance and those folks I know who've gone this way (Sprinter) couldn't be happier.
One of the camerapersons I know who has gone Sprinter finished the interior with a bulkhead to create an aft compartment that is virtually theft proof. It was the medium sized body and just forward of the bulkhead he built a padded jump seat with storage underneigth. This van is very frisky and still can be parked in most regular parking spaces; the fact that you can't park in undersground facilities can often be an advantage, enabling you to pull up in front to loading zones or by using dedicated loading docks at the rear. I carry orange cones in my truck which make things more "official" when I have to park in otherwise questionable spots.
The one disadvantage of the Sprinter is that it falls in the middle of the spectrum in that it is large enough to be overloaded and small enough so that the large Backstage Equipment-type carts are to big and heavy to fit (and use without a proper liftgate - which further lengthen and decreases payload limit). The real determination is whether a cube van and liftgate provide a better platform for your style of production? If your van carries enough and you just want to replace it, the Sprinter is an excellent choice, and will leave you with plenty of room for expansion.
Thanks, John, - you nailed it - just what I wanted to hear.
We bought a Chevy 1 ton extended wheelbase. It was a toss up between the Sprinter and the Chevy. Well, it gets hot (as hell) here in Arizona and we decided on the lower roofline of the chevy soes we could park in our air conditioned garage with 8' garage doors. It not for that, the Sprinter was our other choice. Our Chevy came with the plumbers racks inside and I can store everything in the bins, leaving the floor open for larger items. We have one for grip/electric, one for lighting, and one for A/V. They are made by Adrien (or Adrian) Steel and they have a large selection of units including locking doors. You could rack the driver's side floor to ceiling and still have room for rolling carts and E Track on the other side. FedEx bought about a million Sprinters and the drivers are really happy with 'em.
This is a fun thread. Those Sprinter vans look cool for production work.
Following is a list of what I carry in my 2002 Toyota Prius hybrid gas-electric sedan.
(Note: My car gets 45-50 MPG, produces SULEV emissions, qualified for a $2,000 tax credit, has built-in GPS navigation, and has CA "HOV" stickers which allow me to drive _solo_ in carpool lanes -- fantastic when you need to get somewhere "fast" during commute hours!):
- Sony DSR-450WSL camcorder w. mattebox & accessories in hardshell case.
- Tripod in soft bag.
- 8" color CRT field monitor in Portabrace case.
- Sony PDX10 camcorder in small bag.
- Mole 3 x 650w fresnel lightkit w. 1 chimera & 3 stands in hardshell case.
- Arri 2K fresnel in large plastic eggcrate.
- 250w Mini-Mole in small plastic eggcrate.
- MixPre mixer, 6 Mics, headphones, 15 XLR cables & accessories in hardshell case.
- Misc. clamps & grip heads in a small case.
- 3 C-Stands and 2 add'l. kit stands.
- Six 18x24 flags, silks & foamcore in a soft bag.
- Two 20-pound, two 15-pound and four 10-pound sandbags.
- Eight stingers, 50-ft., 20-ft. & 15 ft. lengths & 4 AC power strips.
- A fold-up, rolling cart for carrying all of the above at the location.
- Room for one passenger.
Although the above arrangement has served me quite well for more than 3 years, there's something to be said for throwing the equivalent of all of the above (and more!) into the trunk of a big ol' Cadillac, completely out of sight! :)
All the best,
[Peter DeCrescenzo] "My car gets 45-50 MPG"
Funny! but how's the mileage when it has all that stuff in it?
My production van is a Camry, though it does force me to make choices about what to leave out. What I'd really like is a car that is uninteresting in itself to car thieves, and has a big enough trunk for all the gear that looks valuable.
[Bob Cole] "... how's the [Toyota Prius] mileage when it has all that stuff in it? ..."
It depends of course on the terrain I'm covering. For example, on 155-mile round-trips from my home near Berkeley, CA to Sunnyvale, CA (Silicon Valley) -- when I can drive in the HOV carpool lane much of the way -- my '02 Prius gets right around 45 MPG carrying all my gear. Even if traffic is really bad it doesn't necessarily adversely affect the Prius' mileage, since the gas engine doesn't usually run when the vehicle is stopped or coasting. (Note the current model Prius gets at least 5 MPG better mileage compared to my '02 model.)
[Bob Cole] "... What I'd really like is a car that is uninteresting in itself to car thieves, and has a big enough trunk for all the gear that looks valuable."
I'm not sure there is such a vehicle. I seem to remember that when the insurance industry publishes lists of the most frequently stolen vehicles they always seem to include big ol' badass cars like older model Oldsmobiles and such -- cars with huge trunks, perfect for concealing expensive video equipment.
Maybe the perfect vehicle would be one which has no "sex appeal" and which doesn't appear on those popular stolen car lists. Which vehicles would that be?
Toyota's new gas-electric Highlander Hybrid SUV doesn't qualify to drive "solo" on CA's HOV lanes since it gets far less than the required 45-MPG minimum. But it's still an awesome vehicle (althogh like all SUVs it doesn't have a real trunk for concealing valuables, just a fabric cover.) Even the smaller Ford Escort Hybrid doesn't get high enough mileage to qualify to drive solo in CA's HOV lanes.
BTW, in Japan Toyota sells a beautiful 8-passenger hybrid gas-electric _4WD_ minivan which gets around 40 MPG. I think they also sell a small hybrid delivery truck in Japan (only), too.
All the best,
[Peter DeCrescenzo] "Even the smaller Ford Escort Hybrid doesn't get high enough mileage to qualify to drive solo in CA's HOV lanes."
Err, sorry, that should read "Ford _Escape_ Hybrid SUV.