Looking for info on legality of changing cargo box on cutaway van to a composite box

Athansinis

Member
Inspired by Burleydirtyhippy’s E-350, I started looking for an E-350 cutaway a month or so back. Like Burleydirtyhippy, I eventually found a great deal on a new van (under 15 miles) that had been sitting on a lot for a few years, but unlike his, the one I found did not have a box…meaning it was an incomplete vehicle and couldn’t be legally driven until it was upfitted by a qualified business who would complete the build. This was disappointing as I was thinking that I could find a cutaway van and then build my own box. This was even more disappointing when I priced out a Spartan Cargo box like I would want and it came to over $10k before tax (plus another $1500ish for shipping to Supreme). I was hoping around $7k, but at $10k+, I'd rather put what the Spartan box would cost to a box made with composite panels to my specs. Anyway....

The van I found went to someone else, but I’m still looking for a cutaway. If I want a new cutaway I either need to buy one with a box already on or have one put on, so I'm instead trying to figure out the legalities of a used cutaway. So far, I have been unable to find much info about buying a cutaway that either has the box removed already or has one that I can change out. To be clear, I want to make sure I’m legal and able to insure the vehicle for the full value of the build (or close to), so I’m not interested in what I can get away with, but instead with what is the proper way of doing it.

So, can anyone help me with the legalities of buying a cutaway van with a box (of any kind) on it (or no box on it at all), removing the box, and putting on a box made with composite panels are? Is it always considered a complete vehicle once the first upfitter finishes it, so I can put a custom box on it and still be fully legal?

I’d really appreciate any insight anyone has to offer on the topic. Thanks a bunch.
 

Craig_C

Member
Curious how you found the van in the lot. I’ve been looking. Let me start by saying I’m not an expert. I’ve just read a lot and talked to some people. If you want to be fully legal then you will need a final stage upfitter to attach your box. Don’t be surprised if you get a composite kit and some place charges $7k just to build and mount the box. So now you are around $27k for the box mounted. It really makes those $10k Spartan boxes a lot more attractive.
Now, if you buy used the sticker has enough info that whatever you attach won’t be legal, but I think you could get away with it, meaning register and insure. Then when you insure the vehicle find a way to insure it for what it is worth and get it in writing with depreciation. I feel like the price keeps going up and up every time I look at a different piece. Good luck.
 
Shopping for a commercial vehicle is a pain. Truckpaper.com, commercialtrucktrader.com. Adds are usually not current but can then find specific dealers and then go to their websites and search inventory. In North Carolina after you finish the conversion you apply for a title rebrand, a state officer will come out and inspect the vehicle, and then issue a RV title. On a used truck with an existing title/registration it is no problem to modify, you can swap out whatever. Unsure about a new unfinished cab/chassis....
 

Athansinis

Member
Curious how you found the van in the lot.
I check Autotrader, SearchTempest, and several dealers that have a lot of commercial vehicles daily (usually several times daily). Just luck and timing. If it had had a box with the main options I wanted already on it and had been priced at 10k more, I'd probably be driving it back already.

Don’t be surprised if you get a composite kit and some place charges $7k just to build and mount the box. So now you are around $27k for the box mounted. It really makes those $10k Spartan boxes a lot more attractive.
I agree on the box price... I definitely don't want to pay someone to build and install a composite box, hence my disappointment that there was no way I could do it myself on a new cutaway.

Now, if you buy used the sticker has enough info that whatever you attach won’t be legal, but I think you could get away with it, meaning register and insure. Then when you insure the vehicle find a way to insure it for what it is worth and get it in writing with depreciation. I feel like the price keeps going up and up every time I look at a different piece. Good luck.
In North Carolina after you finish the conversion you apply for a title rebrand, a state officer will come out and inspect the vehicle, and then issue a RV title. On a used truck with an existing title/registration it is no problem to modify, you can swap out whatever.
Thank you both for the information. It sounds like buying a used cutaway is promising, but might take awhile for the right one to come up (great shape, low miles, reasonable price, etc.).

About the box, did you ever have issues with condensation? I feel like I can insulate well enough that heating/cooling wouldn't be a problem, but I'm not sure about thermal bridging. Since I'm now living in the Pacific Northwest and plan to do most of my traveling between here and Alaska (with a fair amount of time in rain and cold), I'm looking for a solution that won't involve condensation. This is the main reason why I want to replace my Four Wheel Camper and go with composite panels on my upcoming build.
 
About the box, did you ever have issues with condensation? I feel like I can insulate well enough that heating/cooling wouldn't be a problem, but I'm not sure about thermal bridging. Since I'm now living in the Pacific Northwest and plan to do most of my traveling between here and Alaska (with a fair amount of time in rain and cold), I'm looking for a solution that won't involve condensation. This is the main reason why I want to replace my Four Wheel Camper and go with composite panels on my upcoming build.
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No, we didn’t have any issues. But we have always traveled south. The floor and walls are easy enough to insulate without worry of thermal bridging. The ceiling would be the only concern with the crossmembers being steel. Definitely leaps above FWC.
 

The Artisan

Adventurer
Inspired by Burleydirtyhippy’s E-350, I started looking for an E-350 cutaway a month or so back. Like Burleydirtyhippy, I eventually found a great deal on a new van (under 15 miles) that had been sitting on a lot for a few years, but unlike his, the one I found did not have a box…meaning it was an incomplete vehicle and couldn’t be legally driven until it was upfitted by a qualified business who would complete the build. This was disappointing as I was thinking that I could find a cutaway van and then build my own box. This was even more disappointing when I priced out a Spartan Cargo box like I would want and it came to over $10k before tax (plus another $1500ish for shipping to Supreme). I was hoping around $7k, but at $10k+, I'd rather put what the Spartan box would cost to a box made with composite panels to my specs. Anyway....

The van I found went to someone else, but I’m still looking for a cutaway. If I want a new cutaway I either need to buy one with a box already on or have one put on, so I'm instead trying to figure out the legalities of a used cutaway. So far, I have been unable to find much info about buying a cutaway that either has the box removed already or has one that I can change out. To be clear, I want to make sure I’m legal and able to insure the vehicle for the full value of the build (or close to), so I’m not interested in what I can get away with, but instead with what is the proper way of doing it.

So, can anyone help me with the legalities of buying a cutaway van with a box (of any kind) on it (or no box on it at all), removing the box, and putting on a box made with composite panels are? Is it always considered a complete vehicle once the first upfitter finishes it, so I can put a custom box on it and still be fully legal?

I’d really appreciate any insight anyone has to offer on the topic. Thanks a bunch.
I have a cutaway my parter co can turn it to 4x4 and I can build a frp composite pod for you. What is your budget?It is an 01 but has a 60kmi 5.4.
Kevin
 
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Athansinis

Member
No, we didn’t have any issues. But we have always traveled south. The floor and walls are easy enough to insulate without worry of thermal bridging. The ceiling would be the only concern with the crossmembers being steel. Definitely leaps above FWC.
Awesome, thanks a lot for the info! Sounds like a composite box would not be worth the time/money over the Spartan Cargo...well, maybe if I had unlimited funds it'd be worth making a slightly bigger box that adds a few extra inches this way and that, but I'm on a budget!

I have a cutaway my parter co can turn it to 4x4 and I can build a frp composite pod for you. What is your budget?It is an 01 but has a 60kmi 5.4.
Kevin
Thanks for the offer. Sounds like a composite box is probably overkill for what I need and I think I'd want to build it myself anyway since I have shop space nowadays.
 
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