Sometimes it’s not enough just to stand out in a crowd. Sometimes you need to make a statement. And for David Fischer, building a truck for the SEMA show in Las Vegas was as much about making an impression as it was about building something that could enhance his winter passion—snowmobiling.
So the idea was to take a 2016 Chevy HD Duramax with the LML engine and turn it into something that would not only amaze showgoers in Las Vegas, but could also bust through deep snowdrifts in the spring to provide access to the higher elevation snow.
“Basically, it was built obviously for SEMA,” Fisher explained. “And obviously, everybody knows that if you have a truck at SEMA, you want it to be a showstopper, something people want to look at it.”
There are a lot of impressive trucks at SEMA. But Fischer banked on the idea that there wouldn’t be any sitting on top of tracks rather than tires. So with his snowmobiling background, Fischer designed a truck with tracks and a sled deck boasting a couple of snowmobiles. That’s not something you see every day in the desert.
With the help and support of Kelderman, who sponsored his truck in its SEMA booth, Fischer put a team of builders and sponsors together to create his unique tracked truck. However, this wasn’t just a single-purpose “specialty” build. It was designed to allow the track to be swapped out with tire and wheels. During most of the year it is designed to be a daily driver … with a little attitude.
The challenge of the design was to make the truck look the same, whether it had the tracks or the tires on. So a lot of custom engineering went into the build to make things not only compatible, depending on the use, but to make them visually equivalent.
Fischer chose the 2016 Duramax because he wanted to have a tunable engine. “Duramax had just come out with the new L5P motor in 2017,” he said. “But nobody has gotten into the L5P yet; nobody has really unlocked it. I went with the LML because it already had everything for tuning and turbos.”
Putting tracks on a truck may be something that happens in the snow country; this project wasn’t relying on off-the-shelf tracks.
“Designing and building the tracks were crazy,” Fischer explained. “I had two guys at Overkill Racing And Chassis—Joel and Andrew (who are really good welders)—fly out from Utah and help weld the track. For an entire weekend all they did was weld.”
Being a prototype design, it’s hard to put a price on the actual cost of the track. But it isn’t cheap. And the result isn’t what you find from over-the-counter product. This was quality workmanship and a team effort.
Like any project, certain things had to be done in certain order … although sometimes the timing of when parts arrive, or the availability of the right people, don’t quite match the time frame. So Fischer said a lot of things had to come together at the last minute to make everything work out. It took a lot of individuals and several diesel shops to make everything come together.
Most of the build was happening at Wold Fabrication in Darwin, MN. “We were building it at Wold Fab, that’s where the whole build was done,” he explained. “They were the ones who designed and built the tracks. They also built the turbo. That's how I got hooked up with them originally; they build Duramax Turbos. So they're the ones who designed and manufactured those tracks.”
“A lot of things had to come together to make this work,” Fischer explained. “A lot of individuals were involved in the build.”
Looking at the logos on the truck, it’s quick to see a lot of companies that came together to help on this build. A quick rundown includes: 2nd Street Customs, Rigid, WeatherTech, Chucky Courly Wrap Install, Merit Chevrolet, Wehrli Custom, Madsen Machine & Design, Kelderman, Fury Off Road, ECDWraps.com, American Force, Line-X Jamestown, Krueger Diesel, Amsoil, www.Woldfab.com, Shifted Industries, Warn, KPMF, Fox, Shader Image and MBRP Powersports.
Fischer pointed out that even with all the great products that were included in the build, there were plenty of elbow grease and workmanship put into every aspect of the build.
The frame had to be stripped down and powdercoated. “It wasn't like it was like ‘Hey, let's grab a couple cans of spray paint and let's color the frame brown on the front,’” he explained. It had to be baked in the oven. And the grill on the front that says “Kelderman” is a new prototype grill.
Fischer said that Kelderman was great to work with.
“Because of what we were trying to accomplish, Kelderman knew the magnitude of the build. They wanted to be a part of it and wanted it to be in their booth,” Fischer said. It impressed him that Kelderman was willing to “share some of the spotlight with other aftermarket manufacturers within their booth.”
Kelderman makes a great suspension, along with all the other products to market. “They put all of that aside and didn't even care about the other company's front end, which is pretty cool,” he said. “Jeff Kelderman … he's a snowmobiler as well. He loves to ride so I’ll take him west to the mountains this winter. He’s excited to go.”
So the truck features a Kelderman rear suspension and air ride, Kelderman bumpers and grill, Cognito front suspension and Fox Shocks. Rigid Industries did all the lighting and Line-X of Jamestown covered the bed and custom retrofitted sled deck.
The truck also had MBRP Exhaust combined with P1 delete and stainless steel brakes from SSBC. All-In Truck Performance provided the tune. “These guys make it happen,” Fischer said. “We ran it in Vegas without the tracks—that thing is fast.”
Fischer said the entire truck has a custom wrapped by ECD Customs. Everything under the hood was done by Wehrli Custom Fab.
Working As You Go
Fischer said when he pulled out of St. Paul, MN, to head to SEMA, there was still a lot of work to be done. With his SEMA truck sitting on the trailer, he scheduled his trip so along the way he could stop at selected shops and get a little more done as he worked his way west.
“We were putting parts on the thing basically all the way to Vegas,” he said. One of the stops was at Diesel Brothers so he could attach a bumper. “We had parts being shipped next-day-air to meet us along the way.”
Often it was late nights of working on the truck … or as Fischer described it “late mornings.” He said the crew would work through the night, take a short nap in the morning, and do it again. At any given time Fischer would have four or five guys helping out on the project—often just buddies who would swing by the shop and lend a hand.
“If it wasn't for support from other people, you know, it's pretty hard to make something that cool come together,” Fisher said.
It wasn’t until Monday morning of the SEMA Show, when the truck was sitting inside the booth upstairs in the Las Vegas Convention Center before Fischer deemed the project complete.
Fischer has built five trucks for SEMA over the past six years. And with this one complete, everyone is asking: What’s next? What are you going to do to top this one?
“I've already got people hitting me up to do a 2020 Ram or a 2020 Ford,” he said. “I'm just like ‘oh jeez now we're, now we're just starting it all over again?’”
After such a complicated build, are there plans to get a little farther out there in design?
“My first build was probably, to be honest with you, the second most complicated one,” he said. “Then I scaled it back for the next three years, basically building the average guy type trucks until this year.”
His first truck was all white—everything powder coated white—with a big 12-inch lift. “It was a huge white Duramax,” he said. “Everything was painted white, from drive shaft to rear axle to you name it. It was white. Only thing that wasn't white was the frame.”
Fischer said he always has a snow theme in his truck builds. “That's kind of what I'm known for out there,” he said. “I always have snowmobiles because of my racing and background with Polaris.”
What’s It Worth
Fischer said it’s difficult to put a price tag on this year’s truck. Just from the dealer you have over $70,000 in the vehicle. Then when you start adding parts, the price adds up quickly.
“The cost to design and build the tracks would be like a $100,000 just in tracks … but you could never sell it for that,” he said.
But if you look at the workmanship on the tracks, the bogie wheels were cut to match the 28-inch American Force Wheels with 42-inch Fury Tires that go on the truck during the summer.
There was nothing cheap about this truck. But when you’re looking for the “wow” factor at SEMA, you either go big or go home.