Next year Volvo Group is going to celebrate its anniversary. Needless to say, the history of the remarkable company abounds in noteworthy events. It has been many years since Volvo produced its first heavy-duty diesel truck. So, let’s trace the evolution of long-haul offers from the world’s second largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer.
Early 1940’s – The turning point for Volvo engines
1946 was a milestone year in the history of Volvo heavy-duty trucks. Until that time, the company had been concentrating on Hesselman engines (though the diesel motor was already far superior). The reason was that one of the co-founders of Volvo, Gustaf Larson, was a fellow engineering student of Jonas Hesselman, whose creation required lower development costs. But, eventually, the call of the market and the drive for progressive change did its part and Volvo started to implement diesel engines of the pre-combustion type in the new L29 C (‘Civilian’) and the L29 V (‘Road Administration vehicle’).
Volvo Vikings’ era
One of the most remarkable triumphs for Volvo Trucks was gained by the Viking series. The company explains the success of the series by its symbolic character. Firstly, it’s about ‘V’ letter that initiates both the brand and the model name. Secondly, it reflects the genuine ‘Scandinavian’ origin that is so typical for both the ancient Vikings and Volvo vehicles.
The Viking L38 and the upgraded L48 models were significant for the 7-litre direct-injection engine and the choice between 2 or 3 axle versions (frequently featuring all-wheel-drive system).
The Titan’s fame
The Titan is another emphatic name in truck history. Its designers were among the pioneers to make a breakthrough in engine technology. Later on they presented the L39 (followed by L49) with a turbodiesel that boosted the engine output from 150 to 185 bhp. In the following decade the truck also received such outstanding features as the air-operated brake system, the power steering and the Volvo Safety Cab. Up to now, these units have been part and parcel of Volvo trucks.
The story about the Titan range would be incomplete without praising the Titan TIPTOP/F88 that became the first Volvo F-type (forward control/cab-over) truck to have unprecedented success worldwide.
New Era – Truly global Volvo trucks
Despite the overseas attention to some of the F-trucks, American and Australian markets have always given top priority to the N-type (conventional) trucks. For such areas Volvo offered the N10/12 and NL10/12 series. And these offers were met with enthusiasm, especially in Brazil. The wide acceptance was gained due to extremely good adhesion to the ground, which provided impressive cross-country mobility. Besides, in case of the toughest off-road conditions, the N family included all-wheel-drive versions.
The Present – One great family, thousands of versions
The most popular Volvo trucks at the present belong to the FH family. Taking into account the supreme international recognition of Volvo FH12/16, it could be fairly right to understand the abbreviation ‘FH’ as ‘Fantastic History’. However, the genuine meaning is ‘Forward control High entry’ (the numbers after the letters stand for engine capacity in litres).
The FH was preceded by the F-series, prominent for being equipped with either of two new automatic transmission systems: the Powertronic and the Geartronic, designed by Volvo in 80s. This heritage was intensified by such FH innovations as the patented Volvo Engine Brake (VEB), a driver airbag in a truck (for the first used in 1995) and, for sure, the powerful engine with the output from 420 and 540 hp (the FH12) to 750 hp (the FH16).
No wonder, that by this time, FH series already received three ‘Truck of the Year’ awards for the whole time. And there is a strong belief that the best conclusion to this story should be something like “best achievements are still to come”