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.
The 'Roundnose' trucks, which were introduced as '1940' models in late 1939 were to be perhaps the most successful Volvo trucks until the F trucks of the 1970s onwards.
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.