Volvo began operations in late 1926, preparing for the production of cars which started in April 1927. It was soon clear that there was only modest demand in Sweden for a Swedish car.
As early as December 1926, design of a medium-duty truck (named 'Series 1') had started, and, in February 1928, the very first Volvo truck left the factory in Gothenburg, Sweden (at this early stage the production of cars and trucks took place on the same assembly line).
The first truck - an unexpected success
In contrast to the modest demand for Volvo cars, the first Volvo truck was an immediate success. The original plan was to produce 500 four-cylinder 'Series 1' trucks, and later introduce the more powerful six-cylinder truck. The first 500 trucks were, however, sold out in very short time. A second series of 500 trucks - 'Series 2' - was planned and manufactured.
The Volvo 'Series 1' truck was not a powerful truck, having a modest four-cylinder petrol engine delivering only 28 bhp. The official payload was limited to 1,500 kg (half of the GVW) but the basic design of this early truck was very sound, so people frequently used it to carry loads up to double that of the legal figure.
Three-speed gearbox and ergonomics
The speed of the Series 1 Truck was always limited to 40 or 50 km/h (less with payload, especially in hilly surroundings). Driving was, however, facilitated by the three-speed gearbox and the reasonable ergonomics, including a fairly low level of sound for the driver.
In this truck, like in other trucks up to the mid 30s, heating was limited to the engine heat, which entered the cab through the metal sheet that separated the engine from the cab.
Complete design by Volvo
The Series 1 Truck was a modest attempt which succeeded well above expectations thanks to rugged and simple design. In contrast to many other trucks from this era, it was completely designed by Volvo, including the engine and the gearbox. It was delivered without a cab, but a standard cab produced by the independent body manufacturer, 'Åtvidaberg' (who also produced the car bodies) could be ordered and fitted in the Volvo factory before delivery.
Most trucks of this type, however, were delivered without cab to the customer who then ordered a cab to his own specifications from any of the many local cab manufacturers. Surprisingly many Truck Type 1 have been preserved to this very day, proof as good as any of its high quality.
The second truck - built on high demand...
After the slow sales of the four-cylinder Volvo cars during the initial years, it was certainly a very pleasant surprise that the first Volvo truck became a success. The first 500 Series 1 trucks (stocks of which were originally expected to last for up to two years) had found customers within 6 months. Another batch of 500 four-cylinder trucks had to be produced due to the demand.