Volvo truck, N86 and N88 - 1960

N86 and N88

The heavy-duty N trucks introduced in 1965 within the 'System 8' family of trucks were not very exciting to the casual spectator. They looked, in fact, almost identical to the predecessors ('Viking' and 'Titan', respectively) but were completely redesigned under the skin/the bonnet.

When Volvo had introduced their trucks in the USA in the late 1950s, the experiences from this very demanding market had great impact on future Volvo trucks. It is, in fact, very much due to the lessons learned during the 1950s and the 1960s, that Volvo trucks of today are among the best trucks in the world.

Targets behind the engine design
With the exception of the bonnet and the cab, the N86 and the N88 were completely new trucks. A most ambitious renewal had taken place under the bonnet, where new engines of 7 and 10 litre capacity had taken the place of older engines of the same nominal capacity but were now designed with greater safety margins and increased output in mind.

The two new engine sizes had been designed for very high outputs and efficient turbocharging. Five targets had had top priority; total reliability, long service life, low fuel consumption, low weight and potential for future development. In addition to these five targets, the engines would also show in the future that they had great potential to prove unique environmental characteristics like low noise level and clean exhaust emissions.

Fully synchronised gearboxes
Even more radical than the engine design was the basic design of the new 'R50' and 'R60' gearboxes, being fully-synchronised and of the range-change type. Gearbox handling was greatly facilitated due to its utmost reliability and the minimum of force needed when changing gear (for the time); it also had the advantage of only four positions for the eight speeds (each position was utilised for two speeds). These gearboxes were to become famous and would be copied by Volvo's competitors.

Together with new design of important components such as the frame rails, the steering system and the brake system, the N86 and the N88 were truly brand-new trucks under the skin.