Volvo unleashed the F16 truck in the mid-1980s, and it proved to be a beast of a machine, as Pip Dunn explains.
Big power was the preserve of the Swedes in the 1970s, who developed larger engines to produce more horsepower and torque than anything seen in the UK.
Scania had a 14-litre V8 and Volvo had the 12-litre straight six in the F89. These were aimed at operators in its Scandinavian homeland that needed more power as their gross weights were far higher than the 32 tonnes UK operators could max out at.
The 350hp Scania 140, and then its replacement, the 375hp 141, were still sold across the globe and became very popular in the UK especially among those hauliers doing long continental and Middle East runs.
Throughout the 1970s, Volvo, however, had only had a 12-litre engine as its biggest and most powerful engine. It first appeared with the inception of the F89 in 1970 and continued through to the development of the F12 in 1977 and beyond.
But in 1987, it launched an all-new engine – a massive 16-litre straight six rated at 465hp and 2,015Nm of torque. By the time the F16 appeared, Scania’s biggest engine was still its 14-litre V8, but now intercooled and developing 420hp in the R142. In one launch, Volvo effectively launched a ‘power race’ with its Swedish rival which would continue to have many changes of the baton over the next 35 years.
More power than you need
Back in 1987, 38 tonnes was the maximum GVW in the UK, having risen from 32 tons at the end of 1983. Today, 450-500hp is the ‘norm’ for an ‘entry level’ 44 tonner. A similar power to weight ratio would be 540hp, which, again, is nothing too unusual in this day and age.
But in 1987, the F16 was the ultimate driver’s truck, the most aspirational vehicle on the road. Admittedly it had more power than you could really ever need for 38 tonnes. You could have it with a standard sleeper, but most operators understandably went for the Globetrotter cab.
The truck was launched at the same time Volvo unveiled a facelifted Version 3 of the F10/12 cab that had appeared ten years earlier. It had new rectangular headlight set up and grey trim inside. The F16 was noticeable by having a silver border on the front grille.
To handle the torque, the F16’s TD162F engine had the new SR2000 gearbox and the new RAEV91 single reduction axle. Black was and still is the most popular colour for an F16 and this was reflected in the promotional brochure of the day.
There were two tweaks to the F16’s driveline; in 1990 it was offered with the TD162FL engine at 485hp, and 2,160Nm of torque while in 1993, just before it was replaced by the FH16, it came with the TD163ES engine with EDC and rated at 500hp with the same torque output. The latter were very rare as not many were sold before the model was phased out.
In their short six-year life before being replaced by the FH16, not too many F16s were sold, although some Scottish hauliers doing long distances from the hilly Highlands to right across Europe found having that extra power – which gave better acceleration – did amount to noticeable savings in journey times on long hauls.
The F16 was never especially good when it came to fuel consumption, but then, it was often said, if you could afford an F16, you probably were not overly bothered about fuel returns!
For most operators, the F16 was all about image. It was proof you’d made it if you had one. But they were, nevertheless, still one hell of a truck!
This feature is from the latest issue of Heritage Commercials magazine, and you can take advantage of a great, money-saving subscription simply by clicking HERE
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