The history of the Titan TIPTOP/F88/G88 is extremely exciting. The importance of these truck models to Volvo truck history cannot be overestimated.
This truck, which was to conquer practically all of the world with the exception of America, was originally intended for America, not for the rest of the world outside America!
The history of the Titan
To understand the history of the Titan TIPTOP/F88, we must return to the early history of Volvo and especially to the mid 50s marketing strategy of the Swedish Volvo marque. Sweden is a small country, and in order to survive and grow, export sales were necessary. This meant also, of course, that all Volvo products had to stand up to all kinds of severe conditions, this being one of the major reasons behind the overall quality of a Volvo truck in any part of the world, for any transport task.
Of course, the fact that Swedish transport conditions (with practically unlimited Gross Combination Weights and harsh climate conditions) were extremely severe also made a major contribution to the characteristics of Volvo trucks, especially in the heavy-duty class.
Success in the US
In the mid 1950s, Volvo cars met an immediate success in the most demanding car market of this period, the USA. The management of Volvo also considered that trucks should be introduced into North America, to earn valuable dollars for Volvo which was in need of a sounder economic base for future international growth.
Volvo trucks, of conventional N type configuration, were introduced in 1958-59. After a short time, it was clear to Volvo market strategists that the trend in the USA in this period was towards cab-over-engine F trucks. In a relatively short time, a few specimens of a prototype model were developed, of which at least one had a short day cab and was used for tests in Sweden, while at least one specimen had a sleeper cab and was put into 'field-test operations' in North America.
Soon, however, it was clear to Volvo that the specific market requirements of North America could not be met by Volvo trucks of that period. The introduction was halted and the design of future Volvo trucks also took North American requirements into consideration.
How could the new F configuration Titan truck be utilised? As a prototype for future long-distance European trucks of course! Intense development work took place to prepare the new 'Titan TIPTOP' for the severe competition of Europe's increasingly truck-oriented transport industry.
From N bonnets to F trucks
Parallel to this development in America, a move away from bonneted N trucks to F trucks was taking place in Europe, forced to a great extent by legislation in Germany, in which the government tried to protect the position of the train by obstructing efficient truck transportation. One of the steps taken was to restrict vehicle combination length and permitted axle loads.