It was a model 39S with the “Stone” paint job, “Stonehenge” textiles and “Plantation Cherry” woodwork. It had 3 slides with 2 opposing in the main living area which creates a very spacious feel.
The chassis on which the Discovery is built is made by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) in Gaffney, SC. (Freightliner’s parent is Diamler-Benz). The chassis model is XC-S with a 330HP Caterpillar C7 turbocharged engine and Allison 3000MH 6 speed automatic transmission. It has a gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 31,000 pounds.
At first it was a little intimidating to drive this beast as we had no prior experience with a large vehicle, plus the truck like systems were all foreign – air brakes, exhaust brake (jake brake), air suspension, driving position forward of front axle, etc. In fact though, once you get over the differences and get a feel for the size, it is actually quite easy and comfortable to drive. The excellent wheel cut makes for tighter turns than you would think were possible (assuming you have the room of course) and the ride is stable, smooth and quiet thanks to the engine being 35′ or so behind the cockpit.
Also, we found that after a while you develop a new driving strategy and attitude that is totally different from the one you have when driving a car. I won’t get into all the details here, but once you come to this realization it takes away a great deal of any apprehension that might remain and makes cruising the road a mostly pleasant experience.
Last year we both took a driving certification/safety course which helped speed up the familiarity process. At this point the only deficiencies in our expertise are gaining more confidence in backing into tight spaces (it’s hard to judge the clearances on the right side without a helper) and judging the swing clearance in the front.
We added side view cameras this year which will help with the backing down and we use a backup “system” taught to us in the driving course that works quite well. In regard to the front swing, it’s interesting to note that the first bit of pavement I can see from the driver position is 22′ from the front of the coach – we still have a bit of trouble judging tight clearance turns so we need to work on a solution for that.