F89 and G89

Truck drivers have always appreciated having a great amount of horsepower under the bonnet (or under the cab). It is always good to be able to boast about it to fellow truck drivers, but in fact ample power is a safety feature which facilitates the truck driver's ability to hold the same average speed as car drivers, an important part of overall road safety.

A minimum number of horsepower
While the overall Gross Train Weights of truck combinations had grown after WW II, some trucks still had relatively small and weak engines (it was primarily the Swedish truck manufacturers, and in particular Volvo, that played a major role in the introduction of powerful turbocharged engines).

For this reason, the imposition of a minimum number of horsepower per tonne GTW was discussed in legal circles in a number of European countries.

The Germans pave the way
Germany has always been a leading country when it comes to automobile and truck design, and a major proportion of its transportation is performed by trucks. As a result of this, German legislators decided to introduce a minimum horsepower per tonne train weight in the late 1960s. Since a number of European manufacturers of heavy trucks wanted to sell trucks in Germany, this influenced to a great extent the growth of extra powerful engines, a trend which has been present ever since.

There were two different ways available when designing stronger engines; extremely large (and heavy) naturally aspirated engines with up to ten cylinders and volumes of up to 18 litres, and smaller (12 to 14 litres) efficient and fairly light turbocharged engines. German manufacturers were among those who chose the first alternative, while the second was chosen by the Swedish manufacturers.

Introducing the F89 and G89
Volvo was the only manufacturer to choose an in-line-six engine with turbocharging to comply with the German requirements. The result was the F89 (and G89, with forward-placed front axle) which would achieve a leading position in the exclusive segment of high-output modern trucks of the 1970s. Apart from the new 12-litre engine, the choice of components was made from the 'menu' of proven Volvo components.

Naturally, Volvo wanted to use exclusively Volvo components, so apart from the Volvo TD120A engine (of 330 horsepower, to cope with the 8 horsepower demand for 38 tonnes train weight) the Volvo SR61 all-synchronized 16-speed range-change gearbox and the NR2 rear axle with hub reduction was chosen for the new Volvo 'Supertruck'.

Standard on long-distances
The F89/G89 soon became a standard truck for fast European long-distance transport, as well as for Scandinavian timber transport with (legal) train weights of up to 52 tonnes (but it is rumoured that sometimes even greater loads could be handled) and the G89 was used even for Australian Roadtrains with GTWs of about 100 tonnes.