Volvo Truck, Laplander - 1950

The "Laplander"

The very famous designer, Nils-Magnus 'Måns' Hartelius, was the father of many successful cross-country vehicles designed and produced by Volvo. One design, which proved to be very efficient, was the 'Laplander' vehicle developed in the late 1950s.

A first-class successor
The Laplander was designed in response to a design competition created by the Swedish armed forces, who wanted a first-class successor to the 'GP' ('General Purpose') vehicle which had been purchased as surplus material after WW II and was now growing old and less efficient for new tasks.

The 'Laplander' was presented to the Swedish Army in 1959, when a number of pre-production units were produced for testing under the designation 'P2304'.

Forward-control type
The new vehicle was of the forward-control type, in order to decrease the total length, to increase the handling quality in terrain and to improve the weight distribution between the axles. This configuration also presented extremely good vision for the driver.

The final version 'L3314' was presented after very careful testing and was very similar to the early 'P2304' units. It now featured the more powerful 'B18' engine (at the end of the production period both the final version of the L3314/L3315 and the C202 were propelled by the slightly more powerful B20 engine with increased capacity).

Built from car components
The L3314 (as the final version's basic version was called) was an ingenious cross-country light-duty vehicle which was based to a fair extent upon components which were used also for Volvo cars like the 'PV544' and the 'Amazon'. Apart from the engine, the gearbox and the rear and front axle transmission units were also identical to the cars, even though an intermediate reduction transfer gearbox had been added to transfer the power to both axles and to reduce the speed at normal engine rpm in terrain.

One of the most important factors behind the extremely good terrain mobility was the large tyres, together with a generous ground clearance. A differential lock on the rear axle added traction under muddy conditions.
The basic version for military use was presented as an open vehicle with canvas roof. Somewhat later a 'Hardtop' version with steel superstructure and room for eight people was also introduced and produced in parallel with the canvas version.

A multi-purpose vehicle
The Hardtop version became the basic model when the civilian Laplander vehicle was introduced. A third version with pickup body, with room for two persons in the front seats and a small platform, was also available. This became popular for community service functions like snow-ploughing and for forest fire-fighting.

The Laplander was a genuine multi-purpose vehicle which was intended initially for transport of personnel and for intelligence scout duty by the Swedish 'Cavalry' troops (which did not use horses any longer...). Very soon a version for mobile radio-transmission was developed (on the basis of the Hardtop body) as well as ambulance models.

Qualified for combat duties
The Laplander, however, also proved its qualities on active combat duties, including its role as an anti-tank gun light-duty vehicle, in use in both Norway and Sweden. The Norwegian anti-tank vehicle was based on the normal forward-control version, while the Swedish special 'L3304' anti-tank vehicle had a unique body with a bonnet and a very strong roll-over-bar for improved safety for the crew.

A special version was also developed serving as a launch vehicle for very efficient anti-tank robots.
This generation of vehicles became very popular for both active military service and civilian service. The production of these vehicles stopped in 1970, since it was to be superseded by the more powerful (and much more expensive) 'C3' generation of high-mobility vehicles.

Production starts again
There was, however, a constant demand for the efficient and slightly less advanced 'Laplander' vehicle from various civilian customers. After constant requests for several years, production was re-started, this time in cooperation with a Hungarian manufacturer 'Csepel Auto' where production capacity was available (no suitable building was available for the production of these vehicles at the rapidly expanding Volvo factory in Gothenburg, Sweden).

The C202 was improved in several ways, in relation to the previous 'Laplander' version, including revised transmission components, new safer door-locks, etc).
In total, about 3,000 C202 vehicles were assembled before production finally stopped in 1981.