Volvo truck, F4 and F6 - 1970

F4 and F6

Despite the fact that Volvo was in the early 1960s a very successful international truck manufacturer, the number of medium-duty trucks produced annually by Volvo was far to small to enable the development of a first-class medium-duty truck alone. Since Volvo had the ambition to grow in this segment as well, the solution was to seek development partners among other relatively small European manufacturers in this segment.

The Club of Four
The result was the 'Club of Four' which was formed in the early 1970s and which had a design office in Paris, France. This 'club' was formed by Volvo, DAF, Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz ('Magirus') and Saviem (a French make which later merged with Berliet to form 'Renault Vehicules Industriels'). All these four manufacturers shared the ambition to develop a modern ergonomic high-quality medium-duty distribution truck.

The 'Club of Four' was a fairly successful joint project. Despite the fact that the trucks resulting from these various manufacturers looked very similar there were distinct differences between the Volvo trucks and the other trucks.

Unique, in terms of safety and engine
The 'Light-duty F' trucks (the most common nickname for the Volvo trucks of this family) was presented by Volvo in 1975, in a number of models for various transport tasks. It was clear that the Volvo 'Light-duty F' trucks were unique in some areas, particularly in terms of safety and the engine.

In the mid 70s, not all truck manufacturers were concerned with safety. For that reason, three out of the four manufacturers were not interested in strengthening the cabs for their trucks in order to withstand the severe Swedish cab crash-safety tests. For Volvo, of course, it was necessary to reinforce all 'Light-duty F' trucks (not only those intended for the Swedish market, but for all markets).

The different philosophy of Volvo
The result was, of course, that the 'Light-duty F' trucks from Volvo were markedly more safe than the other three manufacturers´ trucks, even in markets where there was direct competition between all four makes and where the Swedish safety regulations were not mandatory.

Also when it came to the engines, Volvo had a slightly different philosophy from the other truck manufacturers. Volvo, being a pioneer in the area of turbocharging, chose to offer turbocharged engines in all of the heavier 'Light-duty F' trucks (from 13 tonnes GVW), and in the early 1980s even the lightest types of this range received turbocharged engines, making Volvo the first truck manufacturer in the world to exclusively produce ONLY turbocharged trucks.

Introducing the new F range
When Volvo introduced this range in 1975, the heavier 'F6' model featured a direct-injection 6-litre Volvo engine, while the lightest version 'F4' featured a Perkins engine, which was replaced by the in-line-six TD40 engine (produced in Volvo's engine plant in Vara, Sweden) which thanks to its pre-combustion-chamber design and turbocharging featured clean emissions. The new 'F4' version of 1978 with the Volvo TD40 engine was easily identified by a diagonal bar in the grille, a design feature which has since become an integrated feature of all Volvo trucks.

The F4 and F6 trucks became very popular and greatly expanded the Volvo market-share in the medium-duty segment. The F6 played a major role in establishing Volvo trucks in the USA (the USA soon became the major market for the F6 trucks).

Working in an international environment
The F4/F6 trucks were important in establishing Volvo as an international producer of trucks, since the design process took place in an international environment. As previously mentioned, the design of the basic cab took place in Paris. The design of the Volvo F4/F6 trucks themselves took place in the Volvo Oostakker facility near Ghent, Belgium.

In Oostakker a completely new modern truck factory was erected for the production of the F4/F6 truck, a factory which later also started producing heavy-duty Volvo trucks. This factory is today the main European Volvo truck factory, and the second largest Volvo truck assembly plant in the world.