The Elusive Chevy Silverado Trike’s Owner Tells Us the Whole Story
Everyone had questions about this automotive cryptid, so we talked to the owner.
For years now, photos of a green, three-wheeled Chevrolet Silverado have circulated the internet, eliciting confusion from Facebook to Reddit and beyond. Why the truck exists, much less whether it's safe and how it drives, remained a mystery until I followed a trail starting at the first 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, he says that—against probably everyone's expectations—the thing actually drives pretty good.
This trike truck is owned by 70-year-old former carpenter Dave Sullens, a licensed minister and an ex-biker known to his friends as the "Professional Hugger." The way Sullens tells it, he was "not a nice person" in his youth, hinting at having been involved in biker gangs. He was introduced to an alternative, however, through a woman who became his wife, and instead led him down a path of piety. He stuck with bikes though, using them to spread his faith, until a fall from some scaffolding while working as a carpenter left him with life-changing injuries. The incident claimed both a leg and his equilibrium, leaving him unable to ride. Rather than withdraw from the biker community, though, Sullens enlisted his son—a qualified engineer—to help him onto three wheels. Not by adding one to a bike, but by subtracting one from a truck.
Sullens' son, who has built a car that ended up in Jay Leno's collection, engineered him a three-wheeler out of a Chevrolet S10 that became his rally truck (that'd be bike rallies) in 2012. He used the yellow-and-green, John Deere-themed pickup to haul around a trailer containing a canopy, golf cart, and supplies to distribute coffee and ice water to all passersby, regardless of whether they were interested in Christianity. As Sullens continued to age, though, the S10 became trickier to get into and out of, so in 2019 his son engineered him a replacement from a 2005 Silverado that has since become a simmering internet sensation.
He explained that despite his truck's sketchy appearance, it's actually a carefully engineered vehicle, having been designed by his son in AutoCAD and Solidworks. A custom A-frame suspended on a pair of hidden coil springs extends through the front bumper to a spindle from a Silverado 2500 HD, on which is mounted a wheel with a 10-ply tire. It's gotta support 2,800 pounds on its own, after all. Its stock 4.8-liter V8 and automatic transmission power a rear end also pulled from a three-quarter-ton, albeit one with a 3.73:1-geared limited-slip differential. It's sprung on a one-ton torsion bar, so it rides a little firm, but Sullens says it handles and stops fine—that's three-wheel disc brakes in action for you.
"I've seen some of the comments that the people had, that it was dangerous. Well, it's not dangerous," Sullens told me. "If a curve says 40 miles an 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 became few and far between. He has replaced them with car shows, which have if anything made proselytizing easier. The sight of a three-wheeled Silverado in John Deere colors is just too much for people to ignore.
"I have found that, since my truck is so different, I can sit in a chair, lawn chair, up in the bed of it, and I can talk to just as many people as I do at a motorcycle rally and tell them about Jesus. And that's the only reason that truck exists," Sullens said. "I don't know if you could see on the back quarter panel, in the yellow stripe, it doesn't say John Deere. It says John 3:16."
When you get down to it, Sullens is just trying to offer to other people the same opportunity for new meaning in life that someone else offered him so many years ago. Fail that, at least some cold water and an earnest hug. Those of us not in a position to encounter Sullens on his circuit of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana car shows and rallies stand to learn a lesson from him, too. It's that while trikes aren't most people's first choice for a vehicle, they can be someone's only option for remaining a part of a community that means the world to them—something many of us will only come to understand as we age. Belonging is a fundamental human need, and beyond us be it to judge the way others seek it.
Or, as Sullens might put it, judge not lest ye be judged.
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