The 1930s had been a very expansive period in the history of Volvo trucks. From a very modest beginning with old-fashioned trucks, the product programme grew into modern vehicles with highly efficient engines and huge payloads, sometimes with more than two axles.
Similar look - different transport applications
These 'Roundnose' consisted of a wide range of trucks that looked similar but covered a large number of transport applications. At a glance, they looked much the same, but in fact they were different. The front, for instance, was available in at least three distinctly different lengths, of which two were available in early models with petrol (or Hesselman or producer gas) engines.
The visual appearance seems unique nowadays. The fact is, however, that the appearance of the 'Roundnose' trucks was very much influenced by both American, British and German truck styling of the era. This is not very strange, since the 1930s was a decade when design was a prominent part of product design and when trends spread from country to country, influencing the design of nearly all makes of trucks from almost every manufacturer.
The main choice of the army - and others
The advent of this range of trucks was not a very promising one. The introduction of the first version took place in late 1939, at the same time as the beginning of World War II. This meant that sales of civilian trucks soon went very slowly. Fortunately, military customers turned up and Volvo became a main supplier to the Swedish armed forces. During WW II, thousands of 'Roundnose' trucks were delivered, in a standard model, with simplified design, and also in an all-wheel-drive model.
After WW II, this family of trucks became very successful. More than 10,000 units of the most successful range, the 'LV125 series', was sold, an enormous number at a time when the truck was accepted but was far from the main means of transport (the railway still playing a major role).
A wide variety of power and strength
Despite a rather similar appearance, the power and the strength of the 'Roundnose' trucks was very varied. The basic engine was a modest side valve engine of up to 90 hp, while petrol engines with overhead valves offered up to 105 bhp. Normally, there were Hesselman options which used the less expensive oil fuel, while producer-gas engines were used during WWII, giving very limited performance but being able to run even in times when petrol was available only for the most needed (military) use.
Overall, this range of trucks was produced from 1939 to 1954, i.e. for 15 years, with more or less no mechanical changes apart from detail modifications. More than 40,000 'Roundnose' trucks were produced and sold, an enormous number considering the limited use of trucks in that era (compared with today).