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Workhorse RV Chassis: Brief History of an RV Workhorse

Workhorse RV Chassis: Brief History of an RV Workhorse

Whatever happened to the Workhorse RV chassis? Once upon a time, the Workhorse chassis replaced the P-30 truck/step van chassis used by Chevrolet. It then became the popular Chevy Workhorse Chassis for RV use.

The durability of the Workhorse chassis earned major respect and quickly became a favorite among RV manufacturers. But what happened to them? Is the Workhorse RV chassis out of business? And if so, what’s an RVer to do if they need Workhorse RV chassis parts?

A Brief History of Workhorse RV Chassis

Back in 1999, Chevrolet moved away from the RV chassis business. Workhorse Custom Chassis stepped in and eventually converted the old Chevy P30 Stepvan chassis to their own version known as the P32. (They continued the P30 to fulfill Chevy contracts in 12,500-pound commercial vans until the spring of 2000.)

Workhorse widened the stance of the chassis by 13 1/4″ and added new rear springs, new front suspension & braking systems, a new fuel tank, and a whole new frame.

Note: If you’ve got an older truck/van (or RV) with a Chevy/Workhorse chassis and you want to know if you’ve got a P30 chassis from 1999, check your VIN number. If the 7th digit on the VIN is a 1 or a 2, then you’ve got the old P30 chassis.

Success inspired Workhorse to design a motorhome-exclusive chassis, and the Workhorse W Series was born.

Around 2003, Workhorse introduced their W16, W18, W20, and W22 chassis. The number equated with the rated GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) in thousands of pounds. The W series had leaf springs on all four corners, like most medium-duty trucks.

The W20 gas chassis and later the W22, W24, and W25.5 chassis took the RV industry by storm due to their excellent durability.

A Workhorse W Series chassis

This Workhorse W-Series chassis was available in 20,700-lb. and 22,000-lb. options. (Photo credit: Workhorse)

The 8.1-liter GM Vortec V8 combined with an Allison transmission was a powerful combo later used in every Workhorse gas-powered chassis. Also popular was the Workhorse R Series with diesel engines and the rear-engine UFO Series chassis. Workhorse later entered the Class C market with a Chevy-based chassis.

But no Workhorse RV Chassis has been as popular as the W Series, long considered one of the finest motorhome chassis made. The W Series was the first platform for gasoline-powered motorhomes that was engineered from the ground up.

The marriage of the Allison 1000 Series automatic transmission with the General Motors Vortec 8100 8.1L engine gave it the largest displacement, the highest HP, and the most torque of any gas motorhome chassis. All of this, plus the Stabil-Ride suspension, resulted in a powerful combination that made the W Series extremely popular.

Workhorse later produced the UFO chassis. “UFO” stood for “Universal Fuel Option” or “Universal Footprint Option”.

UFO represented the fact that the Workhorse platform was a rear-engine design that gave RVers the choice of a gas or diesel engine in the same chassis location for the first time.

A Workhorse UFO chassis

“UFO” stood for “Universal Fuel Option” or “Universal Footprint Option”. (Photo credit: Workhorse)

Is Workhorse Still in Business?

Workhorse is still in business, but not as a manufacturer of motorhome chassis, which was discontinued when GM stopped producing the 8.1-liter engine. Production was suspended entirely during an economic downturn around 2009-2012.

Today, Workhorse is owned by Navistar. And while the company remains in business, they no longer manufacture the Workhorse RV chassis.

Workhorse produced their first-ever 100% electric-powered delivery van in 2012 and continued to press forward in the all-electric world. They currently produce trucks, drones, infrastructure, and software.

What Are Some Motorhomes With a Workhorse Chassis?

Here are ten brands/models that used a Workhorse chassis during various time periods:

  • Winnebago Adventurer
  • Coachmen Sportscoach
  • Fleetwood Southward
  • Itasca Latitude
  • Safari Trek
  • Thor Motor Coach
  • Winnebago Brave
  • Itasca Suncruiser
  • Newmar Kountry Star
  • Damon Avanti

There are also other motorhomes, some still on the road today, that used a Workhorse chassis.

Did the Workhorse RV Chassis Suffer a Major Recall?

The one negative we’ve read about where the Workhorse RV chassis is concerned was a problem with Bosch disc brakes. Some apparently had sticky calipers that caused overheating and damage to the rotors. That precipitated a major recall when Workhorse was still in the business of manufacturing RV chassis.

For advice about Workhorse parts and service today, there’s an RV forum with both users and experts who have a wide range of experience with RVs that use Workhorse chassis.

You can find the iRV2 Workhorse and Chevrolet Chassis Motorhome Forum here.

Anybody Out There With a Workhorse Chassis?

Do you have a motorhome with a Workhorse RV Chassis, or have you owned one in the past? What brand and model, is/was it, and how would you rate it overall? Leave a comment below to share your experience.

While we’re on the subject of RV chassis, don’t forget the importance of exercising them!

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Bob J

Saturday 23rd of December 2023

I just purchased a 2003 National Dolphin 36 ft on a W22 chassis. Put new tires on it and discovered both rear rotors have a crack all the way through and both front rotors have spider heat cracks. Is this part of the brake recall problems?


Monday 25th of December 2023

Oh no, Bob! So sorry to hear about that. It certainly sounds like this COULD be related to that recall. Unfortunately, with Workhorse no longer in business, you're not going to be able to follow up with anyone.

K. Simpson

Thursday 14th of September 2023

I have owned a 2007 Workhorse W-22 Chassis on a Tiffin motorhome for the last 10 years. It has been a good, strong chassis. It was not without its set of issues, but after market accessories (especially in ride & steering) worked out most of the issues. This is understandable, since it is a truck chassis on leaf springs. All and all, it has been a good chassis. Strong engine, very strong Allision 1000 transmission.


Saturday 2nd of September 2023

I own a 2003 Iasca Suncruiser 35U 72000 miles.It sets on a W22 workhores Chassie Ive owned 4 rv in my lifetime this has been the best. So far I've had no problems getting parts for it. the refrigerator went out. I did not put a gas electric back in I put an invertor in an a new still domestic house refrige rater freezer. the new units use so little power the house batteries last for ever .

Craig Caldwell

Friday 25th of August 2023

Speaking of chassis, (I've been waiting for this opening) do you have any friends or followers that have a liquid spring suspension conversion? I know you don't have one yourselves, but have you ever tested one? I'd be interested in any first or even second hand experience with this system. I have a 2015 F-53 26,000 GVWR chassis that I'm considering converting to Liquid Spring but its a pretty big add-on.


Tuesday 29th of August 2023

Hi Craig... unfortunately, we don't know of anyone who has considered, or installed, the Liquid Spring system. It's definitely an interesting option... but we just don't have any experience/knowledge that would help determine if it's a worthwhile upgrade.

Cat Thompson

Monday 21st of August 2023

I live full-time in a 2003 Damon Daybreak 3270 (35'-one slide) on a Workhorse Chassis 8.1 Vortec GM. I absolutely love it! I bought it off a guy that didn't go far with it, but he still kept it maintained and in the garage. It's like a new motorhome. My mechanic was impressed with how great this ol' girl looks and runs at her age.

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