Volvo Truck, L38 and L48 Viking - 1950

L38 and L48 Viking

The most famous Volvo truck ever was undoubtedly the 'Viking', probably for two reasons: firstly due to the two 'V' letters forming the first letter in both the make and the model name, secondly because of the genuine 'Scandinavian' origin of both the ancient Vikings and Volvo vehicles.

A very Scandinavian truck
The Viking was originally a slightly updated model of the L24 diesel 'Roundnose' truck with a new bonnet and new fenders, but was constantly updated with new, stronger engines and modernised chassis components. Since the GVWs needed for most transport in the 1950s were modest, there was no need for the brutal power of the 10-litre engine, L39 Titan truck for the majority of tasks in areas where a single truck was a natural transport tool.

Technically, the Viking was a relatively simple and straightforward truck, which was probably the reason behind the popularity of the Viking truck, making it famous over large parts of the world.

Reliable direct-injection engine
The heart of the Viking truck, in both early and late models, was the 7-litre direct-injection engine (initially of just over 6 litres) with fairly modest output but total reliability. In the first year of the L38 truck production this engine had an output of only 100 bhp, but this was gradually increased with the help of turbocharging to 125 bhp.

This family of trucks was always called the 'Viking', but in fact this designation did not come about until the 7-litre engine arrived in 1954, along with wider fenders (identical to the fenders used on the L39 Titan).

Powerful upgrades and design
Initially presented as a very basic truck without a standard cab, with a naturally aspirated engine of 100 bhp and without power steering, it was continuously upgraded with turbocharging and power steering together with a fairly comfortable Volvo safety cab. The 'L38' designation was changed in 1959 to 'L48' and included instrumentation in front of the driver (the instruments had initially been placed in the middle of the cab to facilitate the production of both left-hand-drive and right-hand-drive Viking trucks).

The Viking was produced in both 2 and 3 axle versions (the 2-axle being by far the most popular). Unlike most other Volvo trucks of the era, the Viking also featured quite frequently in an all-wheel-drive version, being popular for military duties as well as occasional use as a timber or construction truck with (for its time) extremely good terrain mobility.

Additional models
Between 1954 and 1962, a forward control truck was also produced (without a standard cab) under the designations L382/L3851. This truck was not only produced with the 7-litre diesel engine from Volvo but also with a 5-litre petrol engine. This F truck (with a fixed cab) was produced in limited numbers, mainly for use as a tipper truck but also sometimes for other transport missions.

The L38 (1953-1962) and the L48 (1959-1965) was succeeded by the N86 truck. This had a similar appearance, but had been further developed in numerous areas, and was never known under the famous 'Viking' name.