If you have enough money, you can buy a large, 45-foot motorhome that costs more than a house and will make you feel like royalty. For some people, those coaches just aren’t good enough. Maybe the quality isn’t there or the layouts are too boring. Or, maybe, you just want to be the king of the open road with a semi-tractor turned into a giant pink palace. If that’s you, a Kingsley Coach might be the ticket. This one is for sale and it’s a gloriously pink wood-filled Peterbilt made to go a million miles.
Of all of the vehicles I’ve driven, ridden, flown, and sailed, the semi-tractor remains elusive. As many of you know, I love the giant and graceful work vehicles that keep America running. The world just wouldn’t be the same without trains, buses, planes, and semi-tractors. But these vehicles don’t always have to be for work and you don’t always need to be a trucker to enjoy a fine rig. Some people choose to drive motorhomes built on the backs of Class 8 semis and there are companies out there who cater to those big rig dreams.
Kingsley Coach was one of them, and the company specialized in making incredible coaches out of common semi-tractors. Regardless if you wanted a mobile racecar garage, a command center, or a pink palace, you could get it. This 1999 Kingsley Coach rocks a Peterbilt 379 up front, a 150-gallon fuel tank for well over 1,000 miles of range, and a house on the back with so much wood and steel for 45 feet of epic mobile home.
For many, the semi-tractor-based RV, also known as the Super C, is the king of motorhomes. Super C motorhomes look similar to Class C coaches, but instead of being based on a van chassis, they’re built on top of a long-wheelbase semi-tractor chassis. Some people love Super Cs because they drive like trucks, instead of the bus-like feel of a Class A RV. Super C owners also like the idea that in the event of a crash, they have an engine and truck frame ahead of them to take some of the impact. Some like the Super C concept because, unlike a Class A, you’re not sitting directly above an axle, which can mean a smoother ride.
Super C coaches are also often far easier to work with when it comes to maintenance and repairs. Because the engine is up front and under a large hood, access is easier than dealing with a rear-engine rig. Finally, some people love Super Cs just for the fact that because they’re often based on Class 8 trucks, they have high towing capacities and are built to run hundreds of thousands, if not over a million miles.
There’s a lot of choice out there for a Super C. If you don’t have specific needs, companies like REV Group’s Renegade RV will sell you a Freightliner Cascadia-based motorhome with a set of different floorplans and options. There are lots of companies who will build you a custom Super C as well. Kingsley is no longer around today, but when it was, it pitched itself as “The Most Extraordinary Home on the Road.”
And Kingsley’s builds were probably best described as homes on the road. You got a loaded house on the back of a semi, plus a 500,000-mile warranty, and the company was so confident in the build quality that it advertised “1 million miles of trouble-free driving.”
Kingsley Coach is the brainchild of Ralph H. Dickenson. Born in 1940, buses and trucks were in his blood. In Dickenson’s early career, he provided school bus service to multiple counties around Minnesota. Then, he graduated to buying, refurbishing, and then reselling coach buses. Later, he would create wiring harnesses for HMMWVs used in Desert Storm.
In the mid-1990s, Dickenson had an idea rattling around his brain for how to improve the motorhome experience. Reportedly, he felt that most motorhomes were underpowered and flimsy. His solution to this problem was to mate a motorhome to a Class 8 truck. Allegedly, the very first Kingsley Coach was built out of a Peterbilt 379 with the body of an MCI coach bus grafted onto the back. This truck was taken around to RV shows, where it gained interest from investors. By 1996, Kingsley Coach was launched and one of its first customers was singer LeAnn Rimes.
From that point forward, Kingsley Coach slotted itself into its own niche in the RV world. You could take a new or used Freightliner, Volvo, Kenworth, Peterbilt, or really any Class 7 or Class 8 truck to Kingsley Coach and have it turned into the mobile home of your dreams. Kingsley said you’d go with one of its coaches because you wanted a powerful motorhome that’s stronger and more durable than the typical coach.
Kingsley’s first coaches were built in 1996 before the company went public in 1998. Some of the first motorhomes resembled an MCI or Prevost coach but with a semi-tractor for a front end. Later, Kingsley would partner up with Thor Industries. Kingsley sent long-wheelbase semis to Thor Industries in Indiana, where custom RV bodies would be constructed. This partnership lasted until 2005, when the company switched from Thor to E.B.S. of Elkhart, Indiana.
In an interview with the New York Times, Dickenson indicated that an entry-level Kingsley, which got a camper body not unlike the typical travel trailer, ran $150,000. However, if you wanted more, such as a steel reinforced body, a garage for your vehicle, or other custom work, the sky was the limit. In the interview, Dickenson suggested that the buyer of a Kingsley might be a trucker who has spent a decade on the road and now wants to retire in a motorhome that reminds them of their work truck. The former trucker in this case has about $400,000 to spend and perhaps has a spouse who wants a new house. The Kingsley was supposed to blend those desires into one truck.
Production of Kingsley units continued well into the 2000s, with the company even advertising a hybrid model in 2008. Kingsley indicated that until 2004, every unit was custom-built. Afterward, it offered two models, the custom Camelot series and the standardized, assembly line-built Kruiser. Kingsley said its customers included over a half-dozen sports teams and it even made a mobile command center for the Department of State Police of the State of Maryland as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
However, it would appear that things weren’t so healthy at Kingsley Coach. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission administrative proceeding in 2011, Kingsley stopped reporting to the SEC back in 2006, when it reported a $1,169,219 loss over nine months. The company seemed to have folded around this time with owners encountering dead websites, disconnected phone numbers, and no way to contact Kingsley representatives.
It’s not known how many Kingsley Coaches were built, but it’s estimated that the number is under 100. Dickenson passed in 2018 at the age of 78.
This Very Pink Kingsley
That leaves us with the coach before us today. The seller says it was built in 1999 and belonged to a musician at some point in its life. This musician’s name isn’t revealed, but Kingsley Coaches were popular with a few artists. Along with LeAnn Rimes, Chubby Checker was also a huge fan of Kingsley Coach RVs. Chubby called his rig the The Checkerlicious Express.
Sadly, we don’t know who ordered this Kingsley Camelot coach, but they were definitely a fan of pink. The RV body of the coach is made out of a metal and plywood sandwich. The walls and roof have a layer of plywood on the inside, boxed aluminum framing in the middle, another layer of plywood, and then fiberglass finishing for the exterior. The sandwich is approximately 2.5 inches thick and Kingsley claimed to add extra reinforcement. Sadly, this does mean that water leaks and damage from them are still possible, but it should still last longer than the typical RV. I mean, this example is 25 years old and it still looks great!
This coach measures 45 feet long and it’s capped off in the front with a Peterbilt 379 with a long wheelbase.
Launched in 1987, the Peterbilt Model 379 replaced the 359 as the flagship Peterbilt Class 8 truck. The Model 379, with its classic styling and dependable power, is known today as the most popular owner-operated truck of all time. Truckers love these rigs and the 379 was such an icon that it was immortalized in popular culture for its role as Optimus Prime in Transformers. You’ll find plenty of Model 379s on the road today and semi-tractor modders love using them as platforms for their ideas.
This particular Model 379 has a Detroit Diesel Series 60 under its long hood. It’s fitting for the most popular Peterbilt to come with Detroit Diesel’s most successful engine. This mighty straight-six diesel displaces 12.7 liters and makes a healthy 430 HP and about 1,550 lb-ft of torque. For easy driving, the engine is bolted to a five-speed automatic transmission. The Peterbilt platform is supported by an air ride suspension, a 10 KW Onan diesel generator, and two 150-gallon fuel tanks. Assuming 8 mpg fuel economy, which should be possible, this rig has a cruising range of 1,200 miles on just one tank of diesel.
As I noted before, the exterior is painted in a bright pink with pinstripes. An older archived listing for this motorhome indicated that a fire started behind the refrigerator, damaging the roof and an exterior wall of the coach. This damage appears to have been repaired and the coach looks like the fire never happened.
Inside of the coach is a dated, but lovely home filled with ceiling mirrors and oak wood finishings. There are two slides, three air-conditioners, a safe, and 60-gallon holding tanks. Honestly, this rig has more off-grid kit than many of the travel trailers I write about. However, this Kingsley Coach rides low, don’t try taking it off-road.
The coach also doesn’t really have any of the other special parts offered by Kingsley. There’s no storage space for motorcycles or a garage for your car. It’s more or less just a semi-tractor motorhome with loads of towing capacity. I don’t care, because I’d just love to drive this extremely pink motorhome with a matching outfit.
If the pink isn’t too much for you and you don’t mind owning a custom and orphaned coach, $175,000 and a trip to Arab, Alabama will score you this rig. If you do buy it, send it my way so I can achieve my dream of driving a big pink truck.