Brown Sugar – Retro-Cool Camping in an ’83 Chevy from River City
When you consider the countless hot rods, custom cars, and modified trucks built through the decades, it’s easy to wonder if all the cool rides have been done and there’s nothing new left to tackle. Then along comes a wild creation like this C30 Coachman camper from River City Rods & Fabrication and the hot rod world collectively responds, “Wow! I never would have thought of that!”
In fact, that’s the River City motto – “building the things you didn’t think of.” The River City team has turned out many creative and innovative rides in the past few years, and frequently debuts an attention-grabbing new creation each autumn at the SEMA Show.
“Brown Sugar,” the name bestowed on this tasty ’83 Chevy, is the latest attention-grabber to roll out of the shop. It debuted at last and drew SEMA Show crowds not only for its on-the-deck stance and incredible build quality, but also the retro ’80s design elements blended with modern components and construction. It’s a mouth-watering combination.
We’ll start at the bottom, where an air-spring GSI front suspension works in conjunction with a custom rear four-bar setup, air springs, and a Watt’s link to support the truck and drop it right down on the pavement when parked. The 5.3-liter LS engine is dressed in classic Chevy orange paint, fed by a Holley EFI system, and breathes through Hooker cast iron manifolds. Backed by a 4L80E overdrive automatic transmission, the drivetrain has no problem getting the custom paint-matched billet wheels rolling.
It’s the body that really gets people talking, though. The River City crew built custom bed sides that seem to stretch for days and serve as a foundation for the scratch-built camper unit. Besides the one-off box, the team also fine-tuned the cab and front sheet metal before adding one of the truck’s defining characteristics – a wild multi-hued paint job inspired by the ’80s-era Desert Fox option. It uses a sparkling PPG Brown Sugar base color with striking striping in various shades of orange, gold, and red. Satin finishes under the hood and on the camper skin help set it off.
The ’80s themes continue inside, with gold-and-orange plaid cloth inserts on the brown bucket seats and a stock-style dash augmented with custom gauges, Vintage Air, and a Billet Specialties wheel. Wood finishes and countless fun details are incorporated into the camper, which has a sleeping platform above the cab that flips up to display a flat-screen TV. A leather-covered bench, bar area, refrigerator, sink, and full hookups make it a legit camper as well as an ideal tailgate hangout. We especially like the sound system that incorporates Kicker subs mounted in old whisky barrels.
Even if you’re not an “outdoor” person, a retro-cool camper as slick as Brown Sugar is sure to get you dreaming about a weekend by the river. It’s one of those “things you didn’t think of” that River City Rods is so good at building.
Photos by John Jackson