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I'm Buster Brown, I live in a shoe. This is my dog Tige, he lives there too.

Why a Volvo 770

Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Tige Over
Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Tige Over

Last Changed 5/8/2011


Once we learned of the benefits of a converted HDT Volvo, we evaluated the Volvo models with the features that has made the Crew Chief interesting.

For more Volvo information, see the HHRV Resource Guide - Volvo Models

Volvo Styles

Why a Volvo 770 There are basically three models of Volvo integrated sleeper HDT trucks; the VN 610 (now VN 630), the VN 660 (now VN 670) and the VN 770 (now the VN 780).

You will also see the models listed as VNM nnn and VNL nnn which refers to hood length (VNL = long hood, VNM = medium hood).
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Update - Volvo has expanded the product offering.  The VN 780 is now available as the VT 880 with polished exposed fuel tanks and other trim to give a more macho look.  Also there is now a VT 830 and VN 730 which have the longer sleeper like the VN 780 at the lower height of the VN 630

Why a Volvo 770 Why a Volvo 770
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Why a Volvo 770

VN 610 (VN630, VN 730, VN 830)

The VN 610 is called a mid-rise sleeper cab.  Just the cab roof is about 10’ 4” high.  Often you will see a VNL 610 with a fiberglass fairing that takes the height to about 13’ 3” which is the normal height of a semi- trailer.  This provides for smooth air flow up and over the trailer.
The sleeper part of the VN 610 cab is about 60” behind the driver’s seat.  There is one berth across the back of the sleeper with storage below it.  There may be cabinets behind the driver’s and passenger’s seats.

A VN 610 Volvo has clean lines and a raised roof integral air ride sleeper which rises up to just below the roofline of most 5ers.  This makes for good air flow over the top of the truck and trailer as compared to a flat roof sleeper, or a tall sleeper which extends about 13’ 3” high. Tall sleepers on any unit are guaranteed to cause overhead obstacle problems at some time or another. There are bridges, signs, eves, overhangs, wires, and tree limbs to worry about.

Why a Volvo 770 Why a Volvo 770 Why a Volvo 770
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VN 660 (VN 670)

The VN 660 is called a high-rise or condo sleeper.  Instead of a fairing taking the height of the cab to 13’ 3”, the cab has the vertical space available inside the sleeper.  This means that a VN 660 usually has a second berth mounted over the first berth in bunk bed fashion.  The upper berth is hinged so that it can be stored out of the way.
There are storage cabinets that make use of the extra vertical space.  The VN 660 cab is the same 60” as the VN 610, just with an extra 3’ feet of height.

There are side windows for the upper berth that can be opened and have integrated screens.

Why a Volvo 770 Why a Volvo 770
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Why a Volvo 770

VN 770 (VN 780, VN 880)

The VN 770 is a high-rise sleeper like the VN 660.  The VN 770 cab is 77” long and is wider than the VN 660.  The lower bunk of a VN 770 is usually set up like a fold-down dinette in an RV.

There is a table with a bench seat on each side.  The table can be lowered and the seat cushions unfolded to make the lower berth.
There is storage under the seats similar to the VN 610 and VN 660, only larger.

The upper berth is like the VN 660.  Both bunks are 76" long.  The extra cab width of the VN 770 shows up as a storage compartment behind the curbside seatback of the workstation lower bunk.

The cabinets behind the driver’s and passenger’s seats are wider and deeper than those on the VN 660.  Many VN 770s have a refrigerator mounted in the cabinet behind the driver.  There is an option for a drawer above the refrigerator that can hold a sink with a water pump faucet.  A microwave can be installed in a cabinet above that drawer.

The cabinet behind the passenger provides for hanging clothes storage.  Above the hanging storage, there is room for a TV.

Like the VN 660, the VN 770 has windows for the upper berth.  The VN 770 also has windows with built in screens for the lower berth.  Many VN 770s have a skylight window in the forward cab roof.

The Height Issue

The VN 610, with the top fairing removed, is the shortest of the three Volvo models.  At 10’ 4”, there are not many places where you can’t go with VN 610 with the exception of in-building parking.  The height is close to the height of RV fifth-wheel trailers.

With the VN 660 and VN 770, at 13’ 3” height, you have to be much more cognizant of bridges and overpasses.  All bridges and overpasses in the Federal Interstate Highway System are high enough for the VN 660/770.  This cannot be said for all state bridges.

Cities are the most likely place where you will find bridges and overpasses where the height is less than 13’ 3”.  This is due to older structures built before the current generation of trucks.  But you have to remember, commercial trucks need to make deliveries to business all around a city, so there is usually a way for you to get there also.

Also, you must not forget that many RV fifth-wheel trailers are 13' 3" high.

Overall Height
Alfa Leisure 12' 7' Here is a table of the types of fifth-wheel trailers that we are considering.  You will notice that when pulling the trailer, there are not too many places that a VN 610 could go that a VN 660/770 could not go.
Carriage 12' 11'
Everest 12' 8"
King of the Road 12' 9"
Newmar Kountry Aire 13' 3"
Nu Wa Hitchhiker 12' 9"
Teton 13'
Travel Supreme 12'


Crew Chief Aero-Condo

Early in the process of planning for full-timing,  we saw the Crew Chief Aero-Condo at the Baltimore RV Show.  We liked the idea that the truck could be used to do short overnight trips away from the trailer.
Why a Volvo 770
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We liked the concept of the Crew Chief Aero-Condo but we wanted to buy used due to the issue of the 12% Federal Excise Tax.  There are not many used Crew Chiefs available.  We found only one and it had a manual shift.

The Crew Chief Aero-Condo is considered a MDT since it is available on the Freightliner FL60 (Class 6) or FL70 (Class 7) chassis.

Why the VN 770?

When running errands without the trailer, the VN 610 might be more versatile because it is shorter.  As we don't plan on driving big cities once we are full-timing, we do not feel this will be a problem.

The VN 660 has the height issues of the VN 770 but not the cab space and therefore not considered.

Since we liked the Crew Chief idea of a mini-motorhome and the Volvo VN 770 with its 72” sleeper which includes a dinette-like work table, double bunks, and room for a refrigerator, microwave, Porta-potty and other storage, is similar to a Crew Chief.  Larry Zeigler felt the height of the VN 770 is a problem.  We checked the heights of the fifth-wheel trailers we are considering and they run almost the same height as the VN 770.  Our rationale is that if there is not enough height for a VN 770, there also would not be enough for our FW trailer.  The VN 770 has almost the same utility as the Crew Chief.  We can see using (have used) the VN 770 for a couple of nights going to places where we don’t or can’t take the trailer.  This is why we chose a VN 770.

Auto-Shift Availability

We had to have an auto-shift transmission.  In a perfect world, a full automatic would be the choice but the availability in HDTs is extremely limited.

In our search, we found more VN 770s with auto-shift in a reasonable mileage range than VN 610s.  That was a secondary reason for going with a VN 770.

Disclaimer: The information in this site is a collection of data we derived from the vendors and from our personal experiences.  This information is meant as a learning guide for you to  make your own decisions  Best practices and code should always be followed.  The recommendations we make are from our personal experiences and we do not receive any compensation for those recommendations.