Just like when you are at the counter of the ice cream parlor picking your flavors (and deciding to go for that extra scoop yes/no/yes/no) a custom ice cream truck can offer overwhelming and almost paralyzing choice. Nearly anything on wheels can turn its life around for the better and become an ice cream truck and that does not make the decision easier. Karpatia provides you with four options on this page – although there are of course many more possibilities for show on request.
With popping wrapping and a service window a regular van – not even converted to a box truck – makes an a-okay ice cream truck. We start from there as it is by far the most easy and popular option. A normal van has big advantages in mileage, operating efficiency and outright purchase costs over a step van with the somewhat common look as the only major downside to consider.
Then there’s step two – the classic American Step Van converted to an ice cream truck. Great for selling either bars, scoops, soft serve or shaved – any ice will do. At the lower range of budgets the base van used for conversion will be older and you’ll have to weigh the looks and familiarity of the step van to the more practical and definitely less sexy normal van’s reliability and economics.
Our specialty is the custom vintage ice cream truck – using an iconic European oldtimer or classic American van as the base for our tailor made conversion, we try to seduce you with this unique high end taste as a third option and showcase some great past conversions.
To top if off we sprinkle our popular eTuk Vendo GT Ice Cream offering on – a very modern, 100% electric and eco friendly highly mobile way to sell ice cream at many locations normal trucks would struggle to go.
Quickest and most budget friendly easy-freezy way to get out there and start selling ice ceam.
Customizations range from simply giving the old step van a good service and a new wrapping to on-board industrial size churners and more.
Standing out from the crowd is much easier if you spend a little more on your food truck and get an eyecatching vintage ice cream truck.
The ONLY 100% road legal – DOT approved in 32 states and counting – electric tuk tuk for sale in the USA.
Cute, mobile and green.
As practical as it gets – simply cut and mount the service window, place a chest freezer and you’re almost good to go. Of course you’ll want (and get) food truck quality flooring, wall insulation, a raised roof so you can stand upright and A/C but that’s about it.
Cabinetry for dry goods like your cups and cones and other worksurfaces are provided on request but are entirely optional – it is a custom ice cream truck after all.
Greatly practical in an old shuttle bus is that they often have efficient A/C pre installed from their passenger carrying days that can run on the engine.
Coupled with the relatively limited power consumption of all your freezer needs (limited vs. a truck that has deep fryers or ovens) you can run pretty autonomous routes with an ice cream truck using only the engine and the smallest of generators. If routes are short it is even possible to keep everything frozen without turning on the power of the freezer.
The all familiar all-American ice cream truck is a converted step van – usually Chevy or Utilimaster and if we go brand new top-of-the-line high end a Morgan Olson Foundation Food Truck.
Exactly how custom your truck needs to be is your decision – all a custom ice cream truck really needs is cabinetry, freezers and refrigerators and maybe a generator on occasion.
Meaning you are not shelling out the big bucks for equipment – the price of a custom ice cream truck using a base step van is influenced mostly by the base truck used and how much work we decide together we should do on that. If you are not moving the truck all the time and your city has no laws on allowed emissions an older 80’s or 70’s step van with a little TLC service to the engine and a brand new vinyl wrapping might be just what you need.
Are you going for a blaringly loud kid friendly design, or aiming at a wider clientele and putting more emphasis on your flavors, sourcing and production? Your branding will have to reflect that and be more subtle too.
Let us know what that custom ice cream truck you’re dreaming of looks like and we’ll get a quote ready for you as soon as possible.
Ice cream can be a pretty uniform product – especially if you are selling shaved, soft serve or bars. You differentiate yourself through the branding, look and feel of your business and ice cream truck. There are few betters ways to do that than going for a high class vintage food truck.
Every single classic truck or van out there can have an epiphany and be born again as a vintage ice cream truck. We frequently stock Citroen Type H vans, Volkswagen T1/T2 kombi’s, Peugeot J7’s and Mercedes Benz Vario but there are many more vintage options out there. You just need to go out there and look on Craiglist and classic car sites and tell us all about that beauty you found and we can sketch up a conversion for you.
Alternatively we are happy to go hunting for you if you brief us on a style or era of vintage ice cream truck you want and we will present several choice options for conversion on a silver platter custom sourced just for you.
A great way to add to the unique and high end branding of a vintage ice cream truck is by carefully sourcing some premium quality farmers’ ice cream from a local supplier, or offer more than traditional ice cream such as trendy ice cream rolls.
It is not always sunny in vintage ice cream truck-land: space is more limited than in a more modern and practical box truck or step van, larger US metro areas often have restrictive food truck regulations automatically excluding some older models and transportation is best done on a trailer, not by driving the truck, adding some small extra hassle you would not have with a step van.
If you are going for unique, cute branding then a eTuk might just be the right vehicle for you.
Karpatia is the exclusive partner for upfitting and customizing all Vendo concepts of eTuk USA and E-Tuk Factory (for European customers) and customers are wowed across the board by the eTuk’s perfect-for-branding free press attention.
You will stand out from the crowd like no other vendor and have the versatility of operating a regular concession, doing park pop-ups, being invited to weddings and corporate events and placing yourself at farmers markets.
eTuks allow for vending indoors, outdoors and autonomously with their 7kw drive train giving plenty of juice to run your freezers and fridges. If you’re running low you can charge the eTuk on any regular socket.
Fully customizable – doors, colors and the box superstructure have a very high degree of customizability. Download the brochure, check it out and get back to us with your wild desires.
It costs just under $2 of electricity to ‘fill up’ the eTuk – say goodbye to gas expenses. And together with eTuk USA and/or E-Tuk Factory we provide a great warranty programme for both the vendor superstructure and the tuk tuk itself.
The 100% electric eTuk is a very cost effective and low maintenance way to build a unique custom ice cream truck with full DOT approval in 32 states. Sadly California is one of the big states you – and we – have to miss out on, but we’re working on it.
Spoilage is not a huge issue with ice cream trucks and neither is “flow”, industry lingo for the efficient assembly line of products in a food truck. What is unique to ice cream trucks is that you are a traffic hazard that will be held responsible for accidents with kids and bystanders even if you are acting responsibly and it is just the drivers passing without triple checking that you are not.
Create a standard procedure for what you do when you stop – make sure to have big loud stop signs and indications on the truck that you will make frequent and irregular stops like a delivery van. Never sell with the concession window to the streetside, always face the curb.
Greatly take the seasonality of sales in to account if financing your truck! Make sure the financier accomodates this. The overly large part of all your revenue for ice cream truck operators outside of the Sun Belt happens in 4-5 months of the year so it makes sense to pay off more of the financing in those months than around Christmas when you’re not able to sell a single cone.
Order ON TIME – so we can fit it in to production. Karpatia has an almost perfect record of finishing food truck builds on time and when we are late it’s measured in days and weeks, not months. But we are ice cream truck manufacturers and not wizards – a truck ordered in May has a slim chance of being out on the streets in June especially as you will not be the only vendor considering to sell ice cream as the temperature picks up.
If your business plan depends on vending in parks, beaches and other locations thoroughly check the regulations of each location you include in your plan before committing to the truck. These regulations can and will vary wildly not only between cities but even between parks and beaches in the same county.
By assessing your dreams we come to a shared understanding of who we are building for and why
Exploring multiple design options lets us find the solution that best suits your business goals
We refine the concept and provide you with a detailed design that meets your needs
Close monitoring during production ensures we meet your standards. You can always fly- or drive in and take a look!
We offer a range of extra services to support your operation, so you can keep your focus.
If you said yes to the “kid friendly” approach earlier you’ll be wanting to play some music while doing the rounds. But what?
As it turns out the jingle is a regional thing – most places in the southeastern US play Turkey in the Straw, a modern American version (adopted by American-Irish immigrants) from “The Old Rose Tree”.
Up north you will more commonly hear Yankee Doodle and some trucks in California swear by La Cucaracha and overseas in the UK Greensleeves or the BBC’s Match of the Day tune make for popular jingles.
Whatever you do – make sure it is one of those catchy earworms of a tune, get used to hearing it in your sleep and in the shower when it’s not even being played, and ensure you have the license to play it.
There are literally dozens of ice cream truck builders.
SO Why KARPATIA?
We also provide additional services to help you get started – from financing to food truck websites
Yes, we ship to Hawaii. Extra rates apply.
Yes, we ship to Alaska. Extra rates apply. NB and this is the salespage for selling ice cream trucks – are you sure you want one in AK? 😉
We will gladly export your vehicle to Canada but need a little more cooperation with you to get it up to local code than we would for US customers. There is also a joke in here on why you would want to sell ice cream if it snows all year but that is your decision eh.
Yes. And we even offer free shipping on many units made in the EU.
Note that many US step vans and vintage conversions are not available as a right hand drive version though and you will have to learn to live with that or pay for the privilege of converting it.
Yes, although shipping is more expensive and we need to work together a little more closely to get it up to code for you.
Note also that many US step vans and European vintage conversions are not available as a right hand drive version. It is not just harder to find – it does not exist.
You will have to learn to live with that or pay upwards of AUD 8k for the privilege of converting it.
Containers go everywhere, and all units can always be shipped to the nearest port. We might not have a local forwarder in your country (yet) though, in which case we will find one together with you.
Karpatia has no showroom – but of course, we are always happy to show the workshop. You can make an appointment through our contact form and try before you buy.
If you do it right – yes. Food trucks and concession trailers are some of the most profitable small businesses you can operate without very specialized skills. And ice cream requires very limited “cooking” skills.
In the end it all depends on your product and the effort you put in to the business. Go out there and grind every day and you’ll be selling like hot cakes, even if it is ice cold ice cream.
A good quality new, custom ice cream truck starts at $45k. We can work with that budget a bit if you are willing to use an older base model for the conversion or for instance compromise by just giving the engine some TLC during conversion and not a full revision.
You can often find used trucks for $20k or less on UsedVending or Ebay and Craigslist but keep in mind you have to attract kids to the van not scare them off so you need to add the cost of conversion and refurbishment to that price tag.
Quotes are 100% free no strings attached
You'll have a perfect floor plan, artist sketches of your truck or trailer, accurate 3D render and full inventory list at zero cost and nothing signed.