Working Iron Blog

O Ye of the Cabover Faith

It’s funny in a way that the cabover commercial vehicle platform (a shorthand way to say “cab-over-engine” design) is the dominant truck model in almost every corner of the world … except for North America. Thus while cabover aficionados here in the U.S. may seem a small and strange breed, they’d be far and away in the mainstream almost anywhere else on the planet.

Still, the cabover design more than has a place at the truck table in America, both in the medium- and heavy-duty segments.

Take medium-duty trucks: Kenworth Truck Co. and its brother Peterbilt Motors Co. both brought cabovers back into the Class 4-5 segment three years ago, with the long-dominant Japanese OEMs in this market such as Hino Trucks, Mitsubishi Fuso, and Isuzu, continuing to roll out new cabover products as well since that time.

Even UD Trucks – which left the U.S. market in 2012 due to low demand for its signature product – introduced a new heavy-duty cabover model two years ago for the global market.

It’s funny, too, that when “cabovers” get even a smidgen of attention, their fans tend to chime in.

Jessica Growden at AutoCar Truck, for one, sent me some classic photos of some of the company’s very first models (you can see a 1947-era pic at right) – all of them cabovers – built almost a century ago; models whose later-day progeny see service primarily in the waste industry.

[The “big dog” in the vocational segment, of course, remains Mack Trucks; another century-old truck maker getting all sorts of tough work done with its later-day cabover descendant, the TerraPro.]

Just goes to show that cabover faithful remain a forceful presence in the North American truck market.

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