Testing Trucks 50 Years Apart

testing trucks 50 years apart

The latest Volvo FM is a state-of-the-art 21st century truck versus a Volvo F86 similar to the first truck built by Volvo in Australia sees PowerTorque testing trucks 50 years apart.

Often when taking a truck out for a test drive, it is difficult to put all of the new features in context with where a truck has come from. The latest trucks are full of highly sophisticated electronics and make life easy for the driver, plus they are much safer. This was certainly not the case back in 1968 when the Volvo F 86 Tim Giles took for a test drive was built.

testing trucks 50 years apart

In 2021, Volvo launched its latest model the FM, a truck which comes through a long line of heritage over the years on the Australian market. This is not the flagship heavy duty prime mover, this is the workhorse, local distribution prime mover which does a lot of the heavy lifting in the food supply chain around the cities and intrastate applications.

The kind of jobs which are being done by this modern FM model were being handled by trucks like the Volvo F86 back in the 70s. When the Volvo assembly plant started production in Australia, the first truck down the line was an F86.

To get some perspective on just how far the modern trucks have come from those days, PowerTorque decided to drive one of the you beaut 2021 FM prime movers over the same route, up against an F 86. Unfortunately, that first truck down the production line in Australia for Volvo has been lost in time, but Volvo still own a 1968 F86 with which we can run a comparison.

When I started my truck driving career back in 1977, it was driving a Ford D Series and, at the time, what I would’ve given to be able to drive an F86 instead? Now, I finally have got my chance just to see how life has changed in those intervening years.

testing trucks 50 years apart

This new Volvo FM sees the redesign, which arrived a few years ago in the FH model, move down to the smaller prime mover. This new shape represents a major step up from a cabin which had not changed very much since the early 1990s. The change also gives Volvo the opportunity to include all of the latest sophisticated electronics and safety features. Something which is becoming the norm on heavy duty trucks in Australia today.

Back in the 1970s, Volvo offered two choices, the large heavy duty F 88 or G88 prime mover or the smaller F86, which could handle some heavy duty applications and was running around as a prime mover and as a large rigid heavy duty.

testing trucks 50 years apart

During this period the Volvo truck brand brand was expanding out of its original domestic market in Sweden and moving across Europe, plus arriving here in Australia to compete toe-to-toe with the more traditional trucks of that era. One of the strengths of the Volvo brand was the overall build quality of the truck, and tare weight performance with the lighter turbo charged engine up against normally aspirated heavier blocks.

The numbers around the F86 are hard to believe when looking at a truck from 2021. The seven litre engine put out 150 hp without and 210 hp with a turbo. A prime mover at the time would be expected to handle overloaded trailers on substandard roads for long hours. Operators found out where the limitations of these trucks were by simply pushing them until they broke. One of the indicators that the operator was running the truck beyond its capabilities would be when the driveshaft finally snapped or the differential blew up.

More details on the comparison between the two trucks will be appearing here in the next few weeks.

testing trucks 50 years apart

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