Sweet 16

| January 01, 2007

Short turning radius has always been a standout feature of Volvo products, and the N12 was no exception. At the time, popularly available North American front axles had a maximum wheelcut available of only 35 degrees, and many could only use 29-32 degrees of that. The N12 featured 50 degrees of wheelcut even in its axle-forward model. It could turn on the proverbial dime. This was due to a proprietary Volvo front axle and a unique geometry that placed the steering gear farther back to avoid tire-steering gear conflict.

Sharp front axle turning capability, stagnant for three or more decades, became a common American truck design feature thanks in part to influence from the Volvo N12, says the company.

In the rear, the N12′s available Volvo T-Ride suspensions introduced a new level of traction, owing to a high degree of flexibility that allowed articulation without introducing forces into the suspension that unloaded some of the wheels, causing wheelspin. T-Ride also had a much improved ride compared to the popular vocational suspensions that employed huge, rigid, cast iron walking beams. American makers began to produce competitive suspensions, says the company.

International R Series
A replacement for the L Model of the 1940s, the R series was a strong conventional truck produced from 1953 to 1965.

“It was really geared to maximizing the length you could haul,” says International’s Dealer Marketing Director Bill Dougherty. “They called it the Roadliner mainly, and it was really very versatile; you could set it with different wheelbases, single axle, tandem axles. And you could get gasoline or diesel engines for it into the 60s. To me it was a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

“This truck hung around for a long while because it served customers really well, and it got freight from A to B without trouble.”

International DCO-405 Cabover
Built from 1956 to 1965, about 33,000 of these trucks plied our roads.

“I think most people would call it the first really styled cab,” Dougherty says. “It had smooth, curved sides; it was handsome. And it was about efficiency. This was also a very solid work truck. It came with a HRB 600 Cummins, and it gave a lot of value. I think you can see it’s evolution into the Transtar.”

International Transtar CO 4070 Cabover
“This truck was a true industry leader,” Dougherty says. “I mean, hands down it was the best cabover product of its time, and at that time we had upward of half the cabover market. It had the ability to haul a lot of freight with a small footprint. This truck really did the job. It had excellent visibility and maneuverability, and it was fuel efficient.

“If there is a true International built in the past 50 years that is truly representative of the trucking industry at the time it was on the road, it would be this cabover. It was everywhere. ”

White Integral Sleeper
Volvo White says this classic tractor, introduced in 1981, was designed to maximize the benefits of both the conventional and COE tractors. Not an “after-thought” or a “tack-on,” the cab tooling incorporated common parts from the conventional 84-inch wide cab/cowl with the 36-inch bunk of the high COE model. This made the tractor much more aerodynamic than narrow cab conventionals with add-on sleepers or the flat-windshield cabovers, and eliminated air and water leaks.

Historical Perspective
To ask “What do you consider a classic truck?” is like asking someone “What is the best ice cream?” Everyone that answers has their personal opinion based on different criteria. However, I’ll list some trucks that I feel should be considered “classics.”

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