For years, photos of a three-wheeled green Chevrolet Silverado have been circulating the internet, confusing Facebook to Reddit and beyond. Why the truck exists, let alone whether it is safe and how it drives, remained a mystery until I followed a trail beginning with the earliest known close-ups of the truck’s front wheel and ending with the owner himself. Not only did he tell me the how and why of his Silverado trike, but he says that, against everyone’s expectations, the thing rides pretty well.
This trike is owned by Dave Sullens, a 70-year-old former carpenter, licensed minister, and former biker known to his friends as the “Professional Hugger.” According to Sullens, he was “not a good person” in his youth, implying that he had been involved in motorcycle gangs. He was introduced to an alternative, however, by a woman who became his wife, and instead led him down a path of godliness. He stuck with bikes, using them to spread his faith, until a fall from scaffolding while working as a carpenter left him with life-changing injuries. The incident claimed both a leg and his balance, leaving him unable to roll. Rather than retire from the biker community, however, Sullens enlisted his son – a skilled engineer – to help him on three wheels. Not by adding one to a bike, but by subtracting one from a truck.
Sullens’ son, who built a car that ended up in Jay Leno’s collection, designed him a three-wheeler from a Chevrolet S10 that became his rally truck (it would be bike rallies ) in 2012. He used the yellow-and-green John Deere-themed pickup truck to haul around a trailer containing an awning, golf cart and supplies to distribute coffee and ice water to all passers-by, whether or not they are interested in Christianity. As Sullens got older, however, the S10 became harder to get in and out of, so in 2019 his son designed him a replacement for a 2005 Silverado that has since become a simmering internet sensation.
He explained that despite the sketchy appearance of his truck, it is actually a carefully crafted vehicle, having been designed by his son in AutoCAD and Solidworks. A custom A-frame suspended from a pair of hidden coil springs extends through the front bumper to an axle of a Silverado 2500 HD, on which is mounted a wheel with a 10-ply tire. It has to support 2,800 pounds on its own, after all. Its standard 4.8-liter V8 and automatic transmission power an equally pulled three-quarter-ton rear end, albeit one with a 3.73:1 limited-slip differential. It hangs on a bar a ton of twist, so it rides a little stiff, but Sullens says it handles and stops well—that’s the three-wheel disc brakes in action for you.
“I saw some of the comments people had that it was dangerous. Well, it’s not dangerous,” Sullens told me. “If a curve shows 40 miles per hour, I can run 55 because of the weight.”
Sullens visited countless bike rallies in his three-wheeled trucks before COVID-19 hit, and bike rallies have become rare. He replaced them with car shows, which somehow made it easier to proselytize. The sight of a three-wheeled Silverado in John Deere livery is too hard to ignore.
“I found that because my truck is so different, I can sit in a chair, a lawn chair, in the bed of it, and I can talk to as many people as I can in a rally motorcycle and tell them about Jesus. And that’s the only reason this truck exists,” Sullens said. “I don’t know if you could see on the back panel, in the yellow stripe, it doesn’t say John Deere. It is written John 3:16.”
In the end, Sullens is just trying to give others the same opportunity to find new meaning in life that someone else gave him so many years ago. Failing that, at least some cold water and a serious hug. Those of us who aren’t able to meet Sullens on his auto show and rally circuit in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana can also take a lesson from him. It’s that even though trikes aren’t most people’s first choice for a vehicle, they may be someone’s only option for staying in a community that means the world to them – something many people love. between us will only understand as we get older. Belonging is a basic human need, and it is not for us to judge how others seek it.
Or, as Sullens might put it, do not judge for fear of being judged.
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