So you are looking for a step van to begin your food truck business with, where do you start? Well most people go to Craigslist, Ebay, Commercial Truck Trader, and Truck Paper, But there are more options than you could even imagine. Trucks from $1,000.00 -$80,000.00 and that is not even including the commercial kitchen. So lets take a look at the 3 main reasons that determine these crazy pricing, Engine, Age, Mileage.
The first thing to look for is what type of engine is in it. There are a few different style, Cummins, 6.5 Turbo Diesel, 7.3 International, Chevrolet 5.7 350, Ford V8 and Ford V10 are some of the most popular. My advice as stated before is go with a diesel, however if you choose to use a gas engine, the 5.7 350 is the way to go, normally will be more expensive than the ford motors, but most experts rate this engine as the best ever made in a mid-size V8. As for the diesel engines, most 6.5 diesels will be similar in pricing to the gas engines…. STAY AWAY FROM THIS MOTOR, this engine does not have enough power to haul a food truck around, and with its decades of fuel issues this is one I would let rot in the junk yard. As for the 7.3 International and 5.9 Cummins you really cant go wrong here, both have great towing capabilities, both are very good on fuel, and both hold up for a long time in these food trucks.
Truck age is a huge deal when shopping for that perfect family truck to have for years and years. In the food truck world age is but a number if built after 1995. The age of a body and chassis in southern states is nothing what matters is how many owners these trucks have had. Most of these trucks you see with high price tags have 0-1 owners and were fleet maintained, meaning these trucks have been taken care of. The price will lower with each owner but don’t be fooled by age, like David Ortiz these trucks are always clutch, and always have a lot of life left in them.
The final thing that determines cost is going to me the mileage. We have all heard that diesel engines run to a million miles with proper care all day. HOWEVER, make sure you pull a Carfax, make sure you pull the Carfax, make sure you pull the Carfax, did I say that enough? A ton of people are switching out odometers and not reporting it, but Carfax knows. If it says FedEx or Cintas on it and its from 2001 and only has 70,000 miles someone is lying so please pull the Carfax. Mileage is huge with the price but once again these things can last forever, so don’t be afraid of a truck with 220,000 miles on.
So if looking for a truck my recommendation to you would be, 1996-2017 Cummins Diesel w/ an Allison Transmission under 250,000 miles. That is the best bang for your buck and expect the truck price for an 18 foot cargo to be $15,000- $30,000. Now you know what you are looking for so go check out the pages above and find your perfect food truck shell, and then call the guys at Ultimate Food Trucks to build it out.