Windsor man sells farm, builds dream sand car company
May 25, 2017
Colorado Sand Cars
Where: 6333 Weld County Road 60 in Windsor
Call: (970) 674-9967
For more information, go to http://www.coloradosandcars.com
Tom Frank was a farmer. As a hobby, he built dune buggies and helped friends put together rigs of their own. He decided to expand that hobby into a winter business when the farming season was slow.
That hobby became his business.
Frank, of Windsor, sold his farm after a couple years of drought and opened Colorado Sand Cars with his son, Matt.
"We're not a huge business," Frank said. "But we're lucky to be able to work at our passion."
“It’s like being on a different planet. There’s sand for miles and miles. When you get up on a hill it’s like looking at the ocean.”
— MATT Frank
Dune buggies have large wheels and wide tires and are often equipped with safety harnesses rather than seat belts. They're built to romp on sand and uneven terrain. They're built to catch air and absorb the impact of the landing too.
A couple of 70-year-old seniors were Frank's first customers back in 2000. In the shop, there's a picture of the man doing a wheelie. They're still in touch, Frank said, and the couple still drives together.
The Franks build custom sand cars. They're most known for building trucks. When they first started up the business, the market was full of regular buggies, so they offered something different.
The cars, depending on the style, can sell for $40,000-$140,000. They've sold trucks to folks in Dubai, California, Michigan and beyond. They also sell parts to people looking to modify or fix up their own sand cars. The sand cars can take anywhere from 2-3 months to build, depending on the complexity and style.
Colorado Sand Cars only sells vehicles. They don't rent them, Frank said. People who want to give sand cars a try can easily find rental shops in adventure destinations such as Moab, he said.
The cars and trucks can handle all sorts of rough terrain, though generally they're intended to drive in sand and dirt. The Franks have a grassy track complete with a jump at their own shop.
Many local customers head out to Great Sand Dunes National Park for Colorado rides, Frank said.
"You've got to be a bit of a desert person," Frank said. "And you can't mind getting a little dirty. You'll get sand everywhere."
Killpecker Sand Dunes near Rock Springs, Wyoming and Moab, Utah also offer space for sand cars fairly close by.
It adds another level to the outdoors, Matt said.
"It's like being on a different planet," Matt said. "There's sand for miles and miles. When you get up on a hill it's like looking at the ocean."
JD, another of Frank's sons, also loves sand cars. He helps out with the business when things get busy. He likes the adrenaline rush.
"We typically go 100 miles an hour," JD said. "It's however fast you feel comfortable going."
— Kelly Ragan writes features and covers health for The Greeley Tribune. Have a tip? Want to share your story? Call (970) 392-4424, email email@example.com or connect on Twitter @kelly_raygun.