F10 and F12
The F10 and F12 trucks introduced in 1977 soon became the biggest success that Volvo had ever experienced (up to the mid 1990s, more than 200,000 trucks of this range had been produced in total) so it was obvious that the lead which had been obtained with the F10/F12 had to be defended with continuous improvements and modernisation.
An ultra-modern chassis concept
When the F10/F12 had been introduced, a large part of the truck components including the chassis had been carried over from the N trucks of 1973. Now it was decided to complement the unique cab and novel philosophy of the F10/F12 with an ultra-modern chassis concept, which was to be introduced in 1983.
It is seldom mentioned how great the differences were between the three generations (introduced 1977, 1983 and 1987, respectively) which formed three distinct models of the F10/F12 (including the F16 of 1987). The improvements and product features of 1983 were nearly as important in scope as the creation of the concept of the truck family as a whole in 1977.
Better transport economy
The exterior of the new trucks was distinctively different due to the larger windscreen and the heightened roof which was present on both the day cab and the sleeper cab (the Globetrotter cab was of course offered also from 1983 on, with a bigger windscreen). With the new cab shape the truck got a more modern appearance compared with the first, slightly 'boxy', cab model with its flat roof.
But the cab was, despite it being the most obvious change, not the major innovation in the F10/F12 of 1983. This lay instead in the decreased weight of the chassis components, which combined with new, more efficient fuel tanks contributed to better transport economy.
Particular development efforts had been directed towards the suspension, where the new 'parabolic' springs added to driver comfort and goods protection while decreasing the chassis weight.
Other improvements were a new generation of both 10 and 12-litre engines, where improved design added to the expected service life and reliability of the engines. The performance of the engines, however, was more or less unchanged, like the gearbox options, while the hub-reduction axles (which had already been introduced the year before) were more efficient than the previous generation of hub-reduction rear axles.
Electric temperature control
When it came to the safety and the comfort of the driver, these features were more or less unchanged with one exception: the integrated air conditioning was now supplemented by automatic electronic temperature control, which meant that a driver in long-distance transport could drive from northern Sweden to southern Europe without ever changing his heater controls, he just adjusted the heater/air conditioning control knob to a certain number of degrees in the cab, and then he could drive in perfect climate, relaxed and happy.
As added comfort while resting he had also, of course, the option of a fuel-driven heater which could be used while standing still so that he could sleep in a perfect climate, and be completely relaxed after a good nights sleep when another day was dawning, an important aspect of traffic safety!