Volvo truck, F10, F12 and F16 - 1980

F10, F12 and F16

When the F10 and F12 trucks celebrated their 10-year-anniversary they were still among the most modern available, despite the fact that they had also become the most copied trucks on the market. There were, however, reasons to improve some aspects of this truck family.

A completely new model
The most dramatic of the new features/models of 1987 was the F16, a completely new truck model with the most powerful engine of any truck on the market intended for long-distance goods transport.The F16 was based on the chassis configuration of the F10/F12. In the plans for the '7000'-generation of trucks (this had been the original project designation for the F7/F10/F12/F16 truck models), the F16 had played an important part.

For various reasons, the most obvious being the good performance of the F12 Intercooler model introduced in 1979, the F16 had not been judged necessary for transport tasks until the late 1980s, when Gross Combination Weights and average speeds increased.

Creating extreme power
The F16 truck had an advanced six-cylinder, straight-in-line engine with four valves per cylinder and a high-placed camshaft. This engine featured brand-new-design, but was slightly traditional when it came to basic principles (it would last until 1993 when Volvo took the lead as 'high-tech engine champion', with the 'D12' engine for the FH12). To transfer the extreme power of the F16 to the drive wheels an improved version of the 12-speed all-synchronized range-change gearbox with integrated splitter section was utilized.

The appearance of the F16 (and of the improved version of the F10 and the F12, which were introduced at the same time as the F16) was changed slightly, mainly in order to offer reduced air resistance in favour of better fuel efficiency of the trucks as a whole.

For demanding long-distance transports
The Volvo F16 was well received and was soon accepted as a standard truck both for extreme train weights and demanding special operations such as timber hauling in Scandinavia (with train weights of up to 60 tonnes), as a Roadtrain in Australia (with train weights of up to 115 tonnes), for extremely fast European long-distance transport in hilly conditions or for prestige customers wanting to offer extra-strong trucks to drivers in order to reduce to the minimum the need to use the gearbox.

The F10/F12/F16 family of trucks (third generation, introduced in 1987) was used to introduce a number of very advanced high-tech features. The most important of these was perhaps the use of electronically-controlled fuel-injection for the engines, giving major benefits such as cleaner emissions and optimum-efficiency cruise-speed control.

The "Powertronic"
In order to make life easier for the driver automatic transmissions were introduced in the early 1990s, of two very different configurations. For extreme transport tasks the ´Powertronic' transmission (also used for heavy-duty off-road-vehicles produced by Volvo Construction Equipment) made manual gear changing unnecessary in demanding off-road operations and for special tasks such as fire fighting, where speed and safe driving is of utmost importance.

The Powertronic was (and is) designed by Volvo and produced in the Volvo Köping transmission plant and, thanks to its torque-converter design, offers traction during automatic gear-change operations, no matter how short they may be, creating maximum off-road-traction even under extremely muddy conditions.

The "Geartronic"
The electronic 'Geartronic' transmission, on the other hand, was not a completely new generation of gearboxes but an electronic version of proven range-change gearboxes with integrated computer-assisted gear-change. This trend setting transmission option soon became a popular choice in operations such as long-distance transport or heavy regional distribution transport.

In contrast to the Powertronic, the Geartronic was not of the torque-converter type, so power from the engine to the wheels was interrupted during automatic gear-changing operations, making the Powertronic unsuitable for some transport tasks such as construction site transport and timber trucks.

Automatic - but with manual control
Both the Powertronic and the Geartronic had two important novelties compared with 'old-fashioned' traditional automatic gearboxes: they preserved modest fuel consumption and also allowed the driver to manually override the system, because an automatic gearbox can never compare with the skill of an experienced truck driver.