Volvo has been a major producer of cross-country vehicles since 1939/40 (more than 10 years earlier, in 1928, Volvo delivered the first standard vehicle for military use: trucks of the very first type that Volvo produced from 1928 onwards).
A purpose-built special vehicle
Normally, cross-country vehicles have been civilian truck types which have been converted to all-wheel-drive. On several occasions, however, purpose-built special vehicles in the light class have been developed. The ultimate example of this was the C3 generation of vehicles, perhaps the most efficient light-duty cross-country vehicle ever developed and series-produced.
The C3 was both a civilian and military vehicle, which was (apart from military use) used in areas like power production, fire fighting and road construction.
Great fame was won by the C3 vehicle when it participated in the Paris-Dakar rally, the toughest and most severe vehicle rally in the world. In January 1983, two 3.5-tonne C303 vehicles participated in the Paris-Dakar. One of them, driven by Hasse Henriksson, Ingemar Östeberg and John Granäng, won the light truck category after about 10,000 kilometres of cross-country and desert driving under severe conditions, for the most part in terrain without regular roads.
This event, which took place near the very end of the production period of the C3 vehicle generation, demonstrated the qualities of this latest generation of Volvo light-duty cross country mobility vehicles. The C3 generation of vehicles included a large number of versions for various purposes. With a GVW of between 3.5 and 5.5 tonnes, with two or three axles (all driven), versions were available for every military and civilian use.
Simple and advanced at the same time
The total number of C3 vehicles produced was limited, due particularly to the comparatively high price for this sophisticated vehicle. The technical specification was both simple and advanced, with a powerful straight-in-line six cylinder engine and special front- and rear axles where the wheels were situated lower than the centre of the axles, something which contributed to a very high-placed bottom floor of the vehicle, a major explanation behind the good off-road driving capability.
In duty with the Swedish defence force
Normally, the C3 light-duty truck was used for conveyance of personnel or goods, but the military applications also included other tasks like ambulance service, mobile base for intelligence staff and even as a base for anti-tank guns and robots. This was to some extent the same service as had been performed by the predecessor P2304/L3304/L3314/L3315, but new tasks were made possible by the capacity of this vehicle, which by far exceeded the figures of the predecessor a little more than a decade earlier.
The major customer for the C3 was the Swedish defence forces, which had originally requested the design of it. It was also, however, sold to military forces in other countries, often in versions adapted to the special needs of the terrain in their respective countries.